After making major progress last year, southwestern Connecticut’s newest business accelerator is aiming to maintain its momentum in 2018.
Focused on enterprise-oriented startups, TechXel graduated last month its first group of businesses. Its founders say the early feedback from participants, mentors and speakers suggests that the initiative has established a promising model for helping entrepreneurs to develop the knowledge and networks they need to grow their firms.
“Something had to be done to give these young ventures a leg up in getting that vital early seed and angel (investor) funding,” co-founder Brenda Lewis said in a recent interview at the Workpoint co-working center at 290 Harbor Drive, where TechXel is based. “We are one of the very few entities in the state that is directly supporting early-stage ventures. Much of the focus in the state is on stage two ‘in revenue’ companies. We’re taking those development-stage companies and preparing them to get their first round of institutional funding.”
In the 12-week program, participants receive 25 hours each of mentoring from business experts on key skills including the development of business plans and presentations for investors. During their training, they are expected to produce a complete set of documents covering funding for their businesses.
“What Brenda is really doing is polishing and helping these entrepreneurs get to the point so they can go to angel-investing pitches and competitions,” said Leanna Lawter, TechXel’s other co-founder, who is also an associate professor in Sacred Heart University’s College of Business and an HR consultant. “If you’re not polished and able and ready to answer questions and be vetted, you’re not going to move forward. She provides the necessary and valuable expertise and assistance to get to that point.”