reSET, the Hartford-based Social Enterprise Trust, whose mission is advancing the social enterprise sector and supporting entrepreneurs of all stripes, has announced the winners of its 2018 Venture Showcase, and three Connecticut-grown businesses took the top awards.
The annual event recognizes the talented entrepreneurs and innovative businesses that have just graduated from reSET’s nationally recognized accelerator. This year, 18 early stage enterprises graduated from the most recent cohort, and eight finalists competed for $20,000 in unrestricted funding. reSET’s goal is to meet entrepreneurs wherever they are in their trajectory and to help them take their businesses to the next level.
The entrepreneurs pitched their business models to an audience of founders, investors, and community and corporate stakeholders. The panel of judges included Claire Leonardi, former CEO of Connecticut Innovations; Alan Mattamana, Partner at Fairview Capital Partners; and Lalitha Shivaswamy, President of Helios Management Corporation.
Winning the top $10,000 award was Loki, which was created in a “group independent study” through UConn’s Digital Media and Design program by Andrew Ginzberg and co-founders Jeffrey Santi, Brian Kelleher, and Case Polen. Described as “a new kind of media company” – a video sharing platform exclusively for smartphones – Loki is “a place where you can watch events through collections of many perspectives, live-streamed through the eyes of people actually there.” The company’s website is welcoming people who would like to learn more to leave an email address.
Taking the second-place $6,000 award was Florapothecarie, a line of 100% natural + vegan skincare products, “lovingly handmade in Connecticut” by Sami Jo Jensen. The line of products is certified vegan and cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and PETA.
The third-place entrepreneurial business was Bare Life, launching a line of crave-worthy food products with the world’s first Organic, Vegan, Paleo, Non-GMO, Dairy Free, Gluten Free and Refined Sugar Free Hot Chocolate Powder. Founded by local resident Ali Lazowski, who was put on a very restricted diet due to numerous medical conditions and learned first-hand how scarce allergen and irritant-free foods are. So, she set out to create them. Bare Life’s mission is to make these allergen and irritant friendly foods and recipes convenient for everyone, especially the chronically ill.
The event was held last week at the YG Club at Dunkin’ Donuts Park to a sellout crowd of 225. Before selecting the 18 ventures that would participate in the Accelerator class, officials had reSET had to sift through an applicant pool that was the most competitive yet, with 110+ submissions from all over the world. Since 2013, reSET has graduated 105 companies from its accelerator program and has awarded more than a quarter of a million dollars to scaling ventures.
The Superlative Award for “Most Improved Pitch” was won by FieldOwler, a new business that provides auditing and risk management software and solutions to help businesses, organizations, and agencies. Other finalists were CNG Fit, LLC / Fit Party Me, Lioness Magazine, Noteworthy Chocolates, RecordME, and SKYWIREme .
The Accelerator program and Venture Showcase was made possible by reSET’s partners and sponsors, including CTNext, The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Travelers, The Walker Group, Bank of America, The Hartford, GoodWorks Insurance, and People’s United Community Foundation. SnapSeat Photo Booths also provided in-kind services.
reSET, the Social Enterprise Trust is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the social enterprise sector. reSET serves all entrepreneurs, but specializes in social enterprise ― impact driven business with a double and sometimes triple bottom line. In addition to providing co-working space and accelerator and mentoring programs, reSET aims to inspire innovation and community collaboration, and to support entrepreneurs in creating market-based solutions to community challenges.