The LaunchPad for Impact is an accelerator program for early-stage ventures that equips entrepreneurs with tools, resources, and guidance to test drive business assumptions and build a business model that delivers peak value and impact. The program, developed and operated in Hartford by reSET, the Social Enterprise Trust, has been selected to receive a cash prize of $50,000 from the U.S. Small Business Adminstration (SBA), one of only 80 organizations in the country to be designated to receive the funding. Selected in the SBA's Growth Accelerator Competition, LaunchPad for Impact is the only Connecticut accelerator to receive an award this year. President Obama made the announcement this week from the White House of awards totallying $4.4 million. The award includes a $50,000 cash prize to help fund the Hartford-based accelerator, and provides public recognition. Overall, the recipients represent 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The selected accelerators across the nation serve entrepreneurs in a broad set of industries and sectors – from manufacturing and tech start-ups, to farming and biotech – with many focused on creating a diverse and inclusive small business community. "The entrepreneurial ecosystem in America is incredibly exciting and very powerful,” said Javier Saade, Associate Administrator for the U.S. Office of Investment and Innovation. Elsewhere in New England, three Massachusetts programs were selected, as were two Maine initiatives, and one in both Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Through customer feedback, expert guidance, and a peer network, Launchpad for Impact helps transform a start-up business or concept in to a scaleable model by helping entrepreneurs learn quicker, pivot where necessary, and move forward with a better chance of success. Through peer to peer feedback from other entrepreneurs, expert coaching, and an innovative online platform that captures validation and measures investment readiness, participants “get the data, knowledge, and tools needed to pitch to clients, investors, and partners. In an environment where most start-up businesses fail, this program helps you get the validation and sound evidence you need to support your business model,” the program website indicates.
Thus far, the program has included 138 social entrepreneurs in Connecticut, helped launch or accelerate 54 impact ventures, and awarded over $75,000 in funding to early stage ventures in the past two years, according to the program website. Participants meet for nine scheduled, in person sessions and are offered supplemental workshops in multiple areas of business development.
In the SBA competition, applications were judged by more than 40 experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, capital formation and academic backgrounds from both the public and private sector. The first panel of judges reviewed over 400 applications and presentations and established a pool of 180 highly qualified finalists. The second panel evaluated the finalists’ presentations and pitch videos and selected the 80 winners.
“SBA is continuing to make advances in supporting unique organizations that help the start-up community grow, become commercially viable, and have a real and sustained economic impact,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “Through the wide-spread outreach of this competition, we are able to reach entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country. My commitment is to make our resources available to 21st century entrepreneurs where they are, and these accelerators, also known as incubators and innovation hubs, are the gathering place for today’s innovators and disruptors.”