15th Anniversary Countdown: 15 CCEI Program Participant Quotes

We are thrilled to announce the celebration of our 15 years as the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. This is a special occasion to acknowledge the ideas that turned into businesses, the entrepreneurs and mentors who turned into family, and the support system who made it all possible. As a member of the CCEI community, we hope you can join us for our celebratory, all-day event on Friday, December 2, 2022, as we acknowledge the past, present, and future of CCEI. Please note: RSVP spots are still open!

As a countdown to the actual day of the event, weekly blog posts will go out each Friday. These blogs will focus on something (or someone!) important to CCEI and to our history and community.

For our last week before the event, we’d like to acknowledge 15 quotes from past CCEI program participants, and how they felt about certain programs, activities, and/or opportunities. Receiving feedback, no matter how critical or complimentary, is instrumental in our program success, and we take all feedback seriously! If you're interested in any of these featured programs, please feel free to visit our website for more information and to contact us about applications!

1. “The Verge Consulting Program provided me with an excellent opportunity to interact and collaborate with different entrepreneurs, understand their business problems, and apply my business sense and technical abilities to unravel these problems.”

- Sowmya Sevoor Vaitheeswaran, 2022 Verge Consulting Cohort

2. "Personally, the Wolff New Venture Competition was the first opportunity for me to publicly present our dream, and was one of the first validation points encouraging us to continue on our mission to bring about a Zero Waste World. Despite the incredible breadth of our dream, the near insurmountable tasks ahead of us, and all the challenges we face, the Wolff Competition gave us our first nudge of courage to never give up.”

- Nick Myers, Co-founder, Phoenix Tailings

3. "CCEI’s Summer Fellowship was the best experience. Everyone was so helpful and supportive. I quickly realized how connected the entrepreneurial ecosystem is and how willing other entrepreneurs and experts are to help. Without those resources, we’d have taken much longer to get to the next stage of our company."

- Brian Peng, Co-founder, ShadeSnap

4. “The camaraderie of the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp For Veterans is second to none. I can’t over-emphasize the importance of the program. I got so much out of it and I try to pay it forward.”

- Lawrence “Larry” R. Dapo, Founder, Jackson Ryan Construction Services

5. "From my initial interaction with Joe, the State Director at the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, I knew that being a Verge Consultant would be a challenging and rewarding experience. This drove me to apply, and I have been privileged to work closely with industry founders and experts and was grateful to use my expertise to leverage their products. Managing 14 companies within a team of four consultants was challenging, as we are given complete freedom on how we chose to approach the clients at hand. We organized, planned, and brainstormed as a team. Learning the nuances of bringing a product to market is a gratifying experience that I will cherish and take away from this internship."

- Sai Jahnavi Gamalapat, 2022 Verge Consulting Cohort

6. "The quality of the curriculum, content, mentors, and speakers in CCEI Summer Fellowship was absolutely top-notch. I absorbed and implemented so much of what I have learned and look forward to continuing to do so. This 8 week intensive accelerator truly shaped my business and me, personally."

- Hayley Segar, Founder, onewith

7.  “I’m incredibly grateful to have been able to attend the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp For Veterans course. The program itself dips your toes into the water in every area of business, ensuring that we all have a solid foundation in which to start, and to reference back to as needed. From patents, basic accounting, bookkeeping, how to present our businesses, mental health, sales, marketing and IT; the course is comprehensive, well-choreographed and well-executed. In a matter of a week, we were all confident that we had gained the solid footing that every budding entrepreneur is desperately searching for.’’

- Tony Audette, Founder, Audette Motorcycles

8. “Summer Fellowship has been fantastic and eye-opening. If I had to boil it down to one critical aspect I’d highlight the interactions with industry experts and mentors: I cannot overstate how helpful it has been to continually have meetings with the program guests and allow them to vet my ideas, evaluate my pitch, and help me build out my business."

- Peter Goggins, Founder, Pisces Atlantic

9. “This has been a one-of-a-kind experience to immerse myself in the space and culture of InsurTech. Between working on a uniquely impactful project and being surrounded by a network of inspiring peers and professionals, my fellowship has been a deeply fulfilling experiential learning experience. I'm truly grateful to be a part of CCEI's InsurTech Fellowship program.”

- Lee Ding, 2022 InsurTech Cohort

10. “We are incredibly thankful for the opportunity the Wolff New Venture Competition provided us. The resources were used to overcome the critical area of risk for our business prior to being able to obtain private financing. Beyond the funding, which we used to validate our technology and create our first products, the competition gave us our first market exposure enabling us to start discussions with customers as well as some of our first investors, including Techstars.”

- Nick Myers, Co-founder, Phoenix Tailings

11. "We received insights that shaped the way we approached the development and execution of a purely software, SaaS solution in the business and entrepreneurial realm. Marketing strategies, IP nuances, financing, revenue modeling; all-in Summer Fellowship has been one of the most educational accelerators we've gone through."

- Harrison Burr, Founder, Unliminno

12. “CCEI has provided support week-in and week-out that has allowed me to progress as a businessman and take my company to new heights.”

- Elijah Taitel, Founder, ProVelocity Bat

13. “The funds provided by the Wolff New Venture Competition prize allowed us to hire a consultant to help us with our research and development and commercialization plan. For LambdaVision, one of the biggest benefits was putting together a commercialization plan and slide deck that we could use for grant applications and to approach investors. While the layout and style may have changed, the work that we did in 2016 on our slide deck formed the foundation for all the presentations we have given since participating in the cohort.’’

- Nicole Wagner, Co-founder, LambdaVision

14. “To gain the advice of expert mentors who are in the consumer products industry this summer was incredible. Some of the best advice I received is that people connect with people, not things. Although a product should be great, people are largely influenced by the story behind it as well. I am still working on incorporating storytelling into the brand, but I’ve realized the importance of this through Summer Fellowship.”

- Raina Jain, Founder, Queen Bee & Hive Guard

15.  “CCEI’s InsurTech Venturing course has been one of my most valuable experiences at UConn! Through this course, I was able to learn about the InsurTech industry, connect with industry professionals, and even innovate and pitch my own start-up idea for a telematics device. The most impactful part of the course was the fellowship. I was able to intern at an InsurTech start-up in Hartford during my spring semester. This experience provided me with real world experience in the InsurTech industry where I was able to learn directly from experienced professionals.”

- Hannah Resnick, 2022 InsurTech Cohort