Programs


Announcing the 2020-2021 InsurTech Fellows

 

The InsurTech Fellows Program is a collaborative effort between UConn’s CT Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and the University of Hartford and is funded by CTNext. Thirteen graduate and undergraduate students have been invited to participate in the program during the 2020-2021 academic year. Designed to increase student’s understanding of the insurance industry and grow the next generation of innovators within the InsurTech space, students will work directly with new and innovative InsurTech startups, receive personal mentorship from insurance leaders, gain access to networks in the InsurTech ecosystem, connect to exciting job opportunities and internships and earn $4,000 in scholarship funding for their participation.

Expanding on the foundational knowledge gained in a previous InsurTech Venturing course taught by Ken Goldstein, Clinical Instructor of Risk Management and Insurance at the University of Hartford and Michael Kalen, CEO of Covr Financial Technologies, they will gain first-hand experience working with an InsurTech startup via the Nassau Re/Imagine incubator program. Each fellow will also receive mentors to provide professional guidance and support over the course of the spring semester.

Below is the list of the fellows that were selected to participate in the 2020-2021 InsurTech Fellows Program. We are proud to have accepted 9 UConn students and 4 UHart students, spanning across multiple academic programs and includes both graduate and undergraduate students. Join us in congratulating these newly initiated fellows for their participation in such an incredible opportunity.

Alok Bhatt –Master of Business Adminstration, University of Connecticut, School of Business

Andrew Tran -Management Information Systems, School of Business

Eleanor Umaya -LL.M in Insurance Law, University of Connecticut, School of Law

Ian Thomas -Accounting, University of Hartford, Barney School of Business

Jailynn Vidro -Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Kate Sargis -Risk Management, University of Hartford, Barney School of Business

Kevin Robert Fitzgerald -Master of Business Administration, University of Connecticut, School of Business

Meg North -Master of Business Administration, University of Connecticut, School of Business

Nicholas Bosio -Insurance and Risk Management, University of Hartford, Barney School of Business

Nishant Jain -Master of Business Administration, University of Connecticut, School of Business

Utkarsh Gupta -Master of Business Administration, University of Connecticut, School of Business

Yoanny Brito -Management, University of Hartford, Barney School of Business

Youngho Kwon -Management Information Systems, University of Connecticut, School of Business


Get Seeded Pitch Night #2 Winners

Monday night CCEI hosted their second Get Seeded Pitch Night of the school year. Five teams presented their ideas: Aqualytics, Flush Warranty, Immaculate The Brand, SchoolMe, and SortME. After a period of question and answer along with feedback and voting from the audience, the top three winners were awarded.

In third place awarded $500 was Nick Anderson with Flush Warranty.

In second place awarded $750 was Hritish Bhargava and Abhishek Bhargava with SchoolME.

In first place awarded $1,000 was Patricia Olivia and Djuly Fleurant with Immaculate The Brand.

Thank you to everyone who pitched and joined the event, we hope to see you at the next Pitch Night on January 26, 2021. If you have an idea and want to participate in the upcoming Pitch Night, please submit your application.


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


Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: onewith

 

onewith provides a smoothing, second-skin fit through a re-imagined method of creating swimwear that mimics the feel of seamless undergarments. In addition to feeling and fitting differently, onewith seeks to capture, in its aesthetics and detail, sun-soaked, nostalgic East Coast summers.

For as many swimwear companies as there are, they are all – even the brands that are ‘figure-flattering’ – constructionally very similar. I had this realization in the spring of 2019 when I was trying on roughly a dozen swimsuits in my living room, and was feeling frustrated (to say the least) with the way they were looking and feeling. I said, out loud, that I wanted to create a swimsuit that felt ‘one with’ my body, and upon saying that, the ethos and brand came to me immediately.

My background is in fashion, and more specifically, the bridal industry, so I was familiar with the pain points women had with garments and the way they fit, especially in categories as intimate as bridal, lingerie, and swim. I have also been a content creator for 12 years, making YouTube videos for an overwhelmingly female audience since 2008. With this experience, and now with the idea for a brand that I felt could help women feel more confident, I felt a responsibility – and unwavering passion – to bring onewith to life.
    As the daughter and sister of UConn alumni and a proud UConn alum myself, being accepted into Summer Fellowship was surreal. So many amazing businesses and UConntrepreneurs have come out of this University, so I knew I was going to take this opportunity and make the absolute most of it. The quality of curriculum, content, mentors, and speakers in Summer Fellowship is absolutely top-notch. I have absorbed and implemented so much of what I have learned already and look forward to continuing to do so. I also love networking – even virtually – with the other Fellows! It’s fun to bounce off of each other and feel so supported within the group.

    Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: Sourcery

    As a historian, Dr. Tom Scheinfeldt was no stranger to the challenge of gaining access to remote, non-digitized documents. In the past, he had brought to market software that aimed to solve other problems researchers had–so why not try to solve this one, too? Tom brought his idea of a remote document delivery tool to a team of developers, designers, archivists, and researchers at UConn’s Greenhouse Studios–and Sourcery was born. Sourcery is an open-source, community-based mobile application that expands access to non-digitized archival documents in this digital world. The researcher will make a document request from his or her mobile device by entering the document’s citation information, Sourcery will locate the document in the correct archive, and the archivist will have a simple platform to scan and share the document with the researcher quickly and efficiently. The Sourcery Team is excited to launch a custom enterprise version of Sourcery at the end of this summer to help researchers during a time when social distancing measures limit in-person access to collections and the ability to travel.


    Verge Consulting 2020 Highlight: Vagisha Ahlawat

    I am a graduate student enrolled in the UConn Business Analytics program with a background in engineering. I love solving business problems through efficient analysis of data. Using technology to analyze a problem while keeping it in the context of its business application is invaluable for navigating today’s ocean of information. I worked as a Data Analyst for a startup for two years and additionally have consulting experience with Mckinsey and Company. Having worked in varying firm structures – consulting, services, technology and startup, I have developed an understanding required to serve various types of clients. Problem solving capabilities merged with my data centered approaches, I am passionate about helping businesses make strategic decisions by assessing the strengths and risks using technology as the basis.

    Verge Consulting was the perfect endeavor for me to take up this summer as it provided the chance to work with several external client companies which would serve as an excellent learning opportunity for my future career aspirations. I was also excited about the opportunity to collaborate with other consultants having diverse business backgrounds and learning from their experience.

    With the program coming to an end, I can gladly say that it exceeded my expectations. I gained exposure to multiple industries in the US including energy, technology, e-commerce, marine and healthcare in just 10 weeks. I got the opportunity to work with clients facing multiple challenges at the different stages in the business life cycle. I was able to apply the business as well as technical concepts learned in the classroom to decipher client needs, conduct thorough research and develop actionable recommendations. The most rewarding aspect of the program was the exceptionally collaborative peer learning and remarkable mentorship by both CCEI and SDBC’s advisors who guided us at each step through their experience and knowledge while giving us the support to follow our own unique approach.


    Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: Pisces Atlantic

    I’m Peter Goggins, I’m a senior environmental science major in CAHNR, founder of Pisces Atlantic. My company produces a commercial fish feed made from alternative, novel, protein sources. These feeds are intended for use on big fish farms where most of the global supply of seafood is produced. I was inspired to create an alternative feed after I learned how environmentally destructive conventional feeds are as well as their increasing scarcity (and associated skyrocket of price), in recent years; I learned about this after reading a National Geographic article and decided that I was going to revolutionize the industry by making a more effective, greener feed that could be sold at a lower price than what’s on the market today. Pisces Atlantic feeds are a clean break from what is typical in the aquafeed industry by completely disregarding traditional nutrition sources and utilizing vegetable & insect proteins in their place to create a more effective, more sustainable, and more economical feed.

    I’ve enjoyed a decent amount of award recognition over the last few years: I’m a past GetSeeded winner, two-time Accelerate UConn program graduate, second-place finalist and award winner of the Innovation Quest program here at UConn as well as a summer InQbator graduate. More recently I’ve won an award from the city of Middletown’s Collision pitch event, been accepted to CCEI Summer Fellowship, and filed a patent application after having been accepted to the UConn IP Law Clinic. Finally, I was awarded a grant to facilitate the use of an intern team through UConn’s brand-new VentureWerx program. I’ve conducted extensive rounds of R&D, made a season-long exclusive-supply sale to a farming business, and have recently focused my efforts on constructing a manufacturing line at my facility in East Hartford.

    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. I’m particularly excited to keep making sales, my manufacturing should be live soon and I’m anxiously anticipating an influx of regular sales!

     


    Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: Unlimino

     

    MACRØ is the inaugural product of Unlimino LLC, a non-niche technology company comprised of five members. The company was started because we love technology and want to be a key factor and influence in how we develop the future of it, regardless of industry or niche. The five members are Harrison Burr (CEO), Pranav Thaker (CMO), Andrew Martino (CFO), Brandon Lebiszczak (CCO), and Christian Galain (COO). MACRØ as a product specifically is a niche solution to code and keyboard shortcut-intensive industries, such as computer programming, graphic design, video editing, music production, and web design. Shortcuts are too complicated (not to mention there are too many of them), code gets repetitive, and a lot of time is wasted in the aforementioned industries simply doing what should be instant. If only we had one-click keys that do the tedious/hard stuff for us. Well, MACRØ does just that: we make it easy to program and create one-click easy keys that can be used anywhere on your computer by removing the need to code and introducing a simple, drag-and-drop user interface. We create a virtual keypad that lives on your desktop, giving you access to these custom-made keys that adapt to how you work. Basically, MACRØ is a next generation computing productivity tool that adapts uniquely to how you work! So far, we’ve raised over $18,000 in seed funding between three entrepreneurial incubators (iQ, Accelerate UCONN, Get Seeded, Summer Fellowship), in addition to having developed an early beta version of the software. So far in Summer Fellowship we’ve received insights that have truly shaped the way we approach 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 the Unlimino team has gone through to present.

     

     


    Verge Consulting 2020 Highlight: Sai Ramaraju

    I’m a Business Analytics graduate candidate with a 3 year professional career at Deloitte in consulting US-based & European businesses. With a background in implementing data infrastructure  and building business intelligence platforms, I enjoy breaking complex problems into smaller, more manageable pieces. I’m passionate about using my core strength – data analytics, to pivot critical business decisions around marketing and sales strategy. I believe that versatility is my forte, with an ability to handle crises, I’m quick to adapt to changes. Consulting for businesses, large/medium/small, and helping them reach the next level is where I thrive the most.

    At Verge, I saw the potential to create tangible impact through my prior consulting experience and my learnings at the Business School. This was an opportunity to not only bridge the gap between my analytical and business skills but also work with a diverse peer group at CCEI & CT SBDC. To be able to help small businesses navigate through the pandemic and work on a different style of business problems drove me to choose the Verge program this summer.

    What I’m looking forward to most is to meet with business owners and discover areas that challenge my current skillset and potential projects that give me the chance to explore and hone new skills. In contrast to the larger organizations, I’m excited to learn about challenges that come with projects from local owned businesses. I’m also honoured to be associated with mentors and business advisors from both CCEI and CT SBDC and hope to gain valuable insights from them through my time at Verge.


    Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: VeraDermics

    The VeraDermics team is composed of several dermatologists who treat warts on a regular basis. Like many other physicians, we are unsatisfied with current treatment options for pediatric warts. Existing methods are either painful, ineffective, or both, which means many children leave the doctor without getting treated. 

    To solve the problems with current wart treatments, we invented the 1st ever kid-friendly and easy-to-use wart treatment. Our product, WartPatch, combines the most effective wart treatment with a kid-friendly drug delivery platform. WartPatch uses a dissolvable microneedle patch to deliver immunotherapy. Microneedle patches are established, patient-friendly technology that go onto the skin like a band-aid, and the microneedles dissolve into the skin which releases immune stimulating medication. Immunotherapy is a treatment that gets the body’s own immune system to fight off the wart virus. 

    It has proven especially effective in treating warts in children, but is typically too painful in its current injectable form. This process of administering immunotherapy in a microneedle patch would be virtually painless, and thus an excellent fit for the pediatric market. 

    Many people have validated the potential for WartPatch, as we have been selected grand prize winners of MIT Hacking Dermatology, The Blue Health KC Venture Creation Challenge, and Connecticut Business Plan Competition. We are also participating in UConn’s InQbator Program, and we have been accepted into the Pepper Hamilton Emerging Growth Program for intellectual property legal representation. Apart from Summer Fellowship, we have also received funding from UConn Get Seeded and the Texas A&M New Venture Competition. In total, we have raised $130,000 of non-dilutive funding. 

    Currently, we are partnered with the Southwest Research Institute to create a trial-ready prototype. We have also filed a provisional patent. In addition, we have partnered with dermatologists to perform an investigator initiated clinical trial once our prototype is completed. 

    Our core team is composed of several highly-skilled members with expertise in biotechnology, life sciences consulting, and corporate logistics. Dr. Reid Waldman is a dermatology resident at UConn is the company’s COO and expert on clinical trials. Dr. Timothy Durso is a dermatology resident in San Antonio and the team lead in preclinical design and execution. Dr. Madeline DeWane is a recent graduate of the UConn school of medicine, the company’s CSO, and is completing her internship at Yale New Haven Hospital. Dr. Ming Lee is a dermatology resident at Boston University and will be directing FDA regulatory compliance. Kyle Ryder is a life sciences consultant for early stage startups at Trinity Life Science partners and is the head of business development. Dr. Steven Waldman, a former hospital CEO, CFO and Board Chairman, is serving as the company’s CEO. Audrey Worth, an undergraduate molecular cell biology major at UConn, is an intern for VeraDermics and liaison to CCEI’s Summer Fellowship. 

    At Summer Fellowship, we have enjoyed learning about value propositions and customer personas and how critical it is to understand these areas before a startup even considers entering the market. We have also gained valuable insight from mentors such as Nicole Wagner, the CEO of LambdaVision. Nicole offered advice on grant writing from her own experience. We are most looking forward to learning more about marketing and brand development at Summer Fellowship. We currently have a company website (www.veradermics.com) and LinkedIn page, and we would love to explore ways to further develop these avenues and additional opportunities for marketing.