Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Digital Surgeons Brings Branding Expertise to CT Startups

Accelerating your business through brand and marketing

“Should I really be worried about my brand?”

With so many things to focus on like product development and raising capital, have you ever found yourself asking that same question?

Chances are, if you’re an entrepreneur or in marketing, you’ve pondered the question at least a few times.

Ask Joe Pilcavage, Head of Creative at New Haven’s Digital Surgeons , a creative consultancy that specializes in positioning, branding, and launching visionary founders’ latest startups, and you’ll get an answer that might surprise you.

He’ll tell you that, “One of the single greatest reasons businesses fail is because of their branding. At some point in the journey, whether it’s their initial inception or their future marketing efforts, they fail to deeply understand their customers and deliver a consistent experience that answers their needs.”

That’s because a brand, as it turns out, is something people feel . Our ability to create a positive, lasting feeling is what ultimately gets investors and customers to buy in.

Wait a minute. Really?

Sounds like something worth exploring, right? Well, that’s exactly what Pilcavage and Pete Sena, CEO and co-founder of Digital Surgeons, did for a dozen Connecticut startups at the CCEI 2020 Summer Fellowship Program in late June as part of their thinkfwd initiative. Pilcavage and Sena, who together have over thirty years of experience in brand strategy, go-to-market innovation, and digital transformation, broke branding down bit-by-bit for the eager entrepreneurs. What follows are a few key takeaways of their presentation, one that was enthusiastically received by those in attendance and still being talked about here at the CCEI.

8 Key Takeaways From the Digital Surgeons Branding Presentation

  1. Branding works because of the emotional attachment we give to a product or a purpose.
  2. Brands are living organisms that must respond, adapt, and evolve over time.
  3. Positioning is all about deciding the space you want to occupy in the minds and lives of your audience.
  4. When you try to speak to everyone, you’re heard by no one.
  5. Humanizing your brand into what Digital Surgeons calls Brand DNA allows you to set a north star for how you want to communicate to and with your customers.
  6. Your brand’s tone of voice should be a driver of differentiation in your space.
  7. Your visual language is your voice without words. Choose your logo, colors, fonts, and images wisely. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
  8. Your brand should be regarded as sacred, but that doesn’t mean it’s untouchable. Testing, learning, and iterating often are vital in continuously providing a stellar brand experience.

Throughout the course of the program, Pilcavage and Sena also led exercises with the entrepreneurs to help them refine their own brands in real-time. Interested in doing them on your own? Click here to check them out. And if you want to learn more about Digital Surgeons, their work, and branding in general, hop over to the Digital Surgeons website.

Digital Surgeons

Announcing the 2020 cohort of the CCEI Summer Fellowship Program!

CCEI Summer Fellowship 2020 logo

The Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation is proud to announce the 10 startups participating in the 5th cohort of the CCEI Summer Fellowship Program.

The top ten startups from across the University are selected to participate in the Summer Fellowship experience. This program launches in June and throughout the 8 week program, startups develop the skills needed to bring new products, services, and technologies to market. Each startup team receives one-on-one coaching and mentorship from industry experts and experienced entrepreneurs. Teams are provided with pro-bono legal, accounting services, and marketing and branding support to help with initial business setup. Each of the 10 teams are provided with $15,000 of startup funding.

CCEI Summer Fellowship is UConn’s startup accelerator program and is in immersive entrepreneurial experience open to anyone affiliated with UConn (students, faculty, staff and alumni). This program has been CCEI’s flagship offering since 2016 and has prepared startups to launch their company, generate revenue, secure funding, and be accepted into internationally recognized incubators and accelerator programs.

At the conclusion of the program, 5 out of the 10 teams will be selected to move on to the Wolff New Venture Competition. Read more about Phoenix Tailings and the rest of the 2019 CCEI Summer Fellowship Program and the Wolff New Venture Competition cohorts.

CCEI Summer Fellowship 2020 Cohort:

Hintersight Studios, LLC- Developing and designing digital hybrid tabletop games and similar new game media.

Stefan Lopuszanski (Graduate Student), School of Fine Arts

Kona Brand- A mission driven company that makes Hawaiian flannel shirts while helping to find a home for every dog.

Zachary Will (Undergraduate Student), School of Business

Momentum- Gamified mobile/desktop platform that connect local high school students to local resources as it pertains to education, employment, and mentorship (“LinkedIn for Youth”).

Janoye Williams (Graduate Student), School of Business; Astou Daillo (Undergraduate Student), School of Business; Chiziterem Uwaga, School of Engineering

NSH Solutions, LLC- Provides solutions to elderly, injured, or otherwise disabled to maintain their independence and privacy by providing a powered toilet lift that assists them on and off a standard toilet with minimal effort.

Timothy Kruspki (Graduate Student), School of Business & School of Engineering; Jeremy Bronen (Undergraduate Student), School of Engineering

Onewith- Millennial-geared swimwear brand that plays on a generation’s favorite undergarment: seamless underwear.

Hayley Segar (Alumni), College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Pisces Atlantic, LLC- An environmentally-friendly industrial aquaculture feed that helps fish farmers to reduce their feed expenses while also producing a higher-quality product.

Peter Goggins (Undergraduate Student), College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources

Sourcery- A document delivery app that gives researchers access to the documents they need – faster, cheaper and with less hassle.

Dr. Tom Scheinfeldt (Faculty), School of Fine Arts & Greenhouse Studios; Dr. Wes Hamrick (PostDoc), School of Fine Arts & Greenhouse Studios; Brooke Gemmell (Staff), School of Fine Arts & Greenhouse Studios; Sara Sikes (Staff) Greenhouse Studios; Greg Colati (Staff), UConn Library; Brian Daley (Staff), School of Fine Arts & Greenhouse Studios; Garrett McComas (Staff) School of Fine Arts & Greenhouse Studios; Allison Marsh (Undergraduate Student), School of Fine Arts

Unlimino- Developed the MacroPad, a touchscreen macro keypad that remembers keyboard operations defined by the user to reduce repetitive typing, memorize keyboard shortcuts, and expedite workflow.

Harrison Burr (Undergraduate Student), School of Fine Arts; Andrew Martino; Pranav Thaker; Brandon Lebiszczak; Christian Galain

VeraDermics, Inc.- Dermatology-focused startup developing kid-friendly treatments for common childhood skin conditions.

Dr. Reid Waldman (Fellow), UConn Health; Madeline DeWane (Medical Student), UConn Health; Audrey Worth (Undergraduate Student), College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; Dr. Tim Durso; Dr. Ming Lee; Kyle Ryder

WrapUp- Created environmentally friendly and sustainable packaging for food companies.

Kishan Patel (Alumni), College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

We welcome you to join us for the CCEI Summer Fellowship Finale event on August 6, 2020 at CCEI in Hartford (100 Constitution Plaza).

Why I spent my summer with Verge

Why the Verge Consulting Program?

Similar to many MBA students, I had a special interest in joining a consulting firm in the summer. I thought the chance and responsibility to work with external clients would serve as an excellent learning opportunity for my future career aspirations. I enjoy seeing how business work and wanted to utilize my analytical skills and business knowledge to solve complex business problems and generate significant impact on the client’s firms. In addition, I was keen to implement, in the real business environment, the most relevant business concepts I had learned in-class during the first year of my MBA. My expectations of the Verge Program were exceeded.  I was exposed to firms at different life cycle stages and from across industries provided the me and the team multiple challenges that not only expanded hands-on learning, but also improved our skillset.

Projects and Team Dynamics

Our team worked on multiple projects with clients ranging from early stage startups trying to find the most appropriate business model to established companies expanding their business. Their industries include healthcare, medical devices, consumer products, and construction. Accompanied by SBDC Advisors, the first step of a project included meeting with the client to gain better understanding of their objectives and challenges. Then we would come up with a scope of work describing what deliverables we would later provide to the client. Next, the team would extensively discuss potential approaches to overcome business problems and drive business growth (as we had done many times in classroom during the first year of the MBA program). During the project execution phase, we relied on multiple business research database to gather and analyze information. The deliverable included a final presentation to the client, which was my favorite part of this experience. Many times, the relationship with the client transcends the scope of work itself. Noticing the entrepreneur’s passion for the business is contagious and inspiring.  Knowing that we actually have the chance to contribute to their success is priceless.

Skillset development

Overall, I was mostly engaged in activities involving creating strategies for customer acquisition and customer conversion, which requires extensive market research and analysis. In addition, I learned startup valuation and finance modeling, both of which were new to me. However, the most valuable skill I learned as a Verge Consultant was to validate business hypotheses using a data-driven approach. The resources available at Verge Consulting paired with the solid business foundation gained through the first year of the MBA Program allowed me and the team to effectively make insight-driven recommendations to drive business decisions.

This post was written by:

Murillo Silva
MBA, Class of 2019

UConn School of Business