When CTNext, described as state’s leading resource for entrepreneurial support, distributed $54,000 to five Connecticut-based businesses at the annual CTNext Entrepreneur Innovation Awards, they instantly became five to watch. The fledgling businesses are among a growing number of start-ups that are being encouraged by state and private funding sources as Connecticut seeks to become a place where innovation, often driven by millennials, can thrive. Such financial support aims to increase the odds of a business succeeding, while at the same time making it more likely that the company founders would stay in the state, at a time when many millennials are heading elsewhere.
The companies, selected from 10 that sought the CTNext funding of $10,000 per company, were:
- FallCall Solutions (Stratford): Creating a telemonitoring system for Apple Watch and other mobile systems for elders and caregivers
- Rumble Helmet (Bridgeport): Developing a smart bicycle helmet that has embedded features designed to communicate the cyclist’s intentions to other road users
- Sitrep (Cheshire): Creating a system for better communication of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) problems
- Deo2Go (Norwalk): Creating a topical delivery device that can be filled with a variety of products, such as deodorant, lip balm and sunscreen
- EZ ICE: Manufacturing a kit for a custom and portable backyard ice rink that can be assembled in under an hour, with no tools and on any surface
For the second consecutive EIA, Deo2Go took home the $2,000 Crowd Favorite award. Rumble Helmet won an additional $2,000 as Judges’ Favorite, at the awards ceremony held in Hamden.
Rumble Helmet, founded in January 2017, is a smart bicycle helmet that has an embedded adaptive light system consisting of front flash light, back light, turn signals, and uniquely designed sidelights to communicate the cyclists' intentions to other road users, according to a GoFundMe page, now seeking financial support. The light system can be activated using hand signals. The smart helmet can detect vehicle presence in the cyclist's blind spot. Moreover, it can be paired with a mobile navigation application. This invention has a utility patent and design paten granted. CEO Reem AlAttas, a University of Bridgeport Ph.D. candidate, is a co-founder.
Sitrep, based in Cheshire, was founded in 2014 to “develop monitoring systems that are intuitively usable.” Principals are Harland Christofferson, Gary Martin and Michael Byrne.
The mission of Stratford-based FallCall Solutions, LLC is “to become the premier innovator in simplified communication solutions for the geriatric population and their caregivers.” The company website explains that the company aims to maximize elder independence and caregiver peace of mind by “building software based solely on the needs of the consumer rather than the trying to create and introduce new ecosystems into our customers’ lives.”
EZ ICE began in 2010 as a small Rhode Island company constructing ice skating rinks in families’ backyards in the Providence and Boston Suburbs, according to the company’s website.
Since launching the Entrepreneur Innovation Awards in 2014, CTNext has now held 13 total events in the state, awarding a total of $642,000 to 58 unique companies. All companies – including the most recent selections - must be registered with the Secretary of the State’s Office in Connecticut before receiving any grant dollars from CTNext.
“It’s exciting to see the innovative ideas moving toward commercialization by our state’s entrepreneurs, and we are so pleased to be able to provide support to help progress those ideas to the next level,” said Glendowlyn Thames, Executive Director of CTNext.