Finding and Funding Innovation in Connecticut

Small Business

So you have a great idea, have done your homework, researched extensively and met with key individuals who are willing to share knowledge and now you are ready to start a small business based on the concept or idea. And before you go any further you are now in need of financing to pay for start-up costs. Well, last week I had the pleasure of attending a program hosted by Connecticut Innovations and which brought entrepreneurs and funders together to encourage collaboration between investors and idea generators. has hosted over 180 sold-out venture events in 20 cities over the past 9 years. Last week in New Haven not only was there the matchmaking component but also an educational component. Topics covered included, how to meet investors, pitch them, and what it really takes to get them to write you a check!

The program also featured a panel of leading investment experts from Connecticut and the region that included Mike Downs, Partner, Fincham Downs; Peter Longo, President and Exec Director, Connecticut Innovations; Patricia A. Meagher, Venture Partner, Dakota Ventures; Neil Anderson, Angel Investor, ARC Angel Fund ; Mike Kane, Manager, Kestrel Asset Managemen; Victor Budnick, Managing Director, Ironwood Capital; and John Warburg, Co-Founder, Warbros Venture Partners.

Here are some of the really cool start-ups (in alphabetical order) that I leaned about that are based here in Connecticut.

Adam’s Solar Ale, LLC, David Weinberg

Industry: Cleantech / Alternative Energy

Seeking: $300,000Seeking capital to prototype and patent off-grid, solar-powered atmospheric water generator to provide pure, potable drinking water. Potential customers include private citizens, governments, and NGOs. Manufacturing facility will be established in a suburb of Hartford, CT.

Artbox LLC, Elizabeth Messina

Industry: Internet / e-Commerce

Seeking: $300,000 Collaborative leverages our unique software platform to enable a network of creative professionals with integrated online tools for marketing, collaboration and commerce. As full-time employment drops, the freelance workforce grows. Free agents need an efficient system to combine skills, talents and ideas, and produce things of value for clients and the mass market. The initial offering is a SaaS, B-to-B model with revenue from subscriptions, commissions and niched ads. Artbox’s multi-tenant platform is built to scale for other industries, and includes an “art-discovery” mobile app. Artbox is a woman-owned, CT-based business, and winner of Phase I, II and IIA SBIR grants from the NSF. We seek seed funding for product development and marketing. Matching grant available.

DirectedVision Inc, Matthew Cerullol

Industry: Internet / e-Commerce

Seeking: $550,000

DirectedVision is a cloud-based, high-security collaborative information acquisition, storage, management and distribution system based in the cloud, with a highly-scalable, multi-tier organization system and unique capabilities with respect to universal video. DirectedVision has developed unique market-disruptive video handling capabilities that lower the cost and complexity of producing, editing, storing, managing and sharing multi-hour video generated by non-technical users. This creates a radical expansion of the market. DirectedVision incorporates all of the collaboration tools that otherwise have to be assembled from different websites: document sharing, discussion groups, multi-hour video, SMS, a course/class organization, seminar organization. System is HIPAA compliant.

Encendia Biochar, Michael Sesko

Industry: Agricultural / Farming

Seeking: $1,000,000

Encendia Biochar produces soil amendments that lead to more efficient use of water and fertilizer for farmers and gardeners. The Company is paid to remove organic waste materials that it then converts into high-value biochar products. The Company is building a portfolio of custom-designed biochar mixes to treat specific soil types and root zones. The strategic combination of organic feedstocks, processes, and formulations enables Encendia to create unique and proprietary biochars to prescribe for amendment to specific soils. The Company complements its biochar customization profile with a decentralized development model.

Harpoon Digital

Industry: Advertising

Seeking: $2,000,000

Harpoon Digital is a start-up agency that seeks to specialize in harnessing the power of social media. We want to do this by using pay-for-performance methodologies. We seek seed investment so we can build out the platform we will need to plug into Facebook’s API, so we can run and optimize brand ad campaigns on Facebook and other social media sites. We will also need initial funds to make some key hires., Team JiaYJia

Industry: Internet / e-Commerce

Seeking: $3,000,000

JiaYJia is an online service platform for the Short-Term Vacation Rental (STR) market in China. Its goal is to create an STR marketplace that bridges the demand from travelers and supply of idle apartments and to manage the corresponding business flow transactions. JiaYJia is at its prototype stage. The founders have created a Web-based product concept. We have also formed the team with key members in New York and Beijing. We are looking to raise enough funds to put the prototype into production, start marketing and place the platform into operation.

Option Energy Technologies, LLC, Henry Jansen

Industry: Industrial / Energy

Seeking: $150,000

We design and build completely self-contained Mobile bio-diesel refineries that produce biodiesel, electricity and portable drinking water at a fraction of the cost. This system is design for field use, natural disasters, military and export to emerging countries in SE Asia and Africa. Our system does not need any water in the biodiesel processing cycle, it is easy to operate and can produce up to 1,000 gallons of high- quality biodiesel per day and up to 20KW of electricity. The Mobile-Electricity-Biodiesel-Water-Units (MEBWU) are all integrated. The company has received a reward certification from the Rhode Island Institute of Science for its technology. We have also received good response from potential overseas buyers for the MEBWU.

SoftTissue Regeneration, Inc.

Industry: Medical Devices and Equipment

Seeking: $3,000,000

Soft Tissue Regeneration, Inc., has demonstrated the complete regeneration of anterior cruciate ligamentous (ACL) tissue using a degradable synthetic polymeric construct. The Company has also developed a biodegradable rotator cuff augmentation device.

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