Archive for December, 2011

Update on CT Innovation Ecosystem

December 27th, 2011

Wondering what was happening with the $5mil/yr funding for the State of Connecitcut (via DECD and CI) to fund building the startup ecosystem?  Matt NemersonKip Bergstrom held a couple of update meetings building on the earlier meetings.  The deck is below for those that weren’t able to make the meeting.

I did not notice any major changes to the plan – except the timeline is pushed later to fully operational in Q3 2012.  The level of detail has increased in particular, the specifics of the goals and the budget are included.  Interesting to see the goals include companies growing revenue in addition to jobs.  Nice to hear the expressed desire is to be more agile than the typical government program with continuous information and collaboration along the way.  (Along these lines, I suggested publishing a draft of the RFP for input before formal release.)

CT Innovation Ecosystem Update Dec 22 2011

Biggest question on my mind is if it is the right timing to start an accelerator or incubator if that is what is on TV and popular right now.

David Fischer continues to offer ideas for different approaches that might attract a lot more national attention.  Admittedly, this may be more difficult to get through a political process, but could have a real impact.  For example, what if New Haven or the state offered a home buyers program?  If you are an entrepreneur that has raised x money (or if we could identify/verify success in the past and desire to start another company – not easy I’m sure), then you get matching funds to buy a house.  It can be forgivable loan over 5 years if you make it your primary residence or similar. No way to build the ecosystem like stocking more of the type you want.  Definitely interesting.

What do you think of the plan?  Any suggestions for improvement?

Call it MakeHaven

December 23rd, 2011
Since I got excited and joined the effort to create a maker or hackerspace in New Haven, there has been a lot of activity.  Here’s a quick breakdown in case you are just tuning in:

  1. Lost of Discussion.  We’re up to 34 members on the listserv.  (Hope you’ll join, too.)  I think there have been 3 or 4 meetings and a growing number of people getting involved. There is definitely excitement about moving forward.
  2. Various Visions.  With the excitement comes various different visions for what this maker/hackerspace should be and do.  From “for the members by the members” vision of basically putting our garage projects into one clubhouse to a TechShop 10,000+ sq ft with heavy equipment.  And lots of debate if the goal should be to drive economic development directly (by say providing a place for startups to make prototypes) or indirectly by increasingly the cool factor of town, attracting interesting people and building a creative community.  More specifically Kam laid out a phased approach (start now and start small at 15 people paying $50/month each).  Alan put together a whitepaper with his BIG vision which includes shop, lap, conference room, classes and yes the kitchen sink.  Rob put together a budget for something that looks to be in between.
  3. Survey.  John has taken the approach of asking the community for input on what the vision should be.  Here’s a survey that asks what do you want and what would you actually use?  Preliminary results are posted online.  (If you haven’t taken the survey yet, please don’t read the results yet.)
  4. Locations. We’ve been taking about the right location.  Should it be downtown?  Large?  Small to start?  Some of us took a tour of potential locations and and JR took a bunch of photos along the way.  That was fun!Sunset from one of MakeHaven possible locations
  5. Picking a Name.  Once we have a name, it is easier to get the legal stuff squared away and start further promotion.  Incorporation or even accepting money or other donations will be easier with a name.  So, I’ve been promoting the idea of picking a name sooner rather than later.  There has been much brainstorming on the topic.  It has been argued that “hacker” is still a misunderstood term with only a negative connotation.  Others don’t like “make” as they feel it is limiting.  I personally like things that people know how to spell, can search for on the web and that explains something about the subject without unnecessarily limiting you.  (Read up on tips on naming startups if you’re interested in the subject.)  Therefore, I favor MakeHaven.  It’s clear you make things here, it is a safe place and related to New Haven.  Hits a lot of the checkboxes.

Please share your thoughts below or on the listserv.  And share your tools here.

(Photos by JR Logan.)

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