By Joshua Cyr, director of education and acceleration
With 2019 well underway I have been thinking about the New Hampshire startup ecosystem, what it offers startups and their founders and what we might learn from some of the recent events.
But before we begin, it should be noted that there are many great support organizations for entrepreneurs in NH. The NH Tech Alliance and its Alpha Loft and Live Free and Start initiatives, the NH Small Business Development Center, Center for Women and Enterprise, regional incubators and regional SCORE offices to name a few. All of these organizations have been working together in making referrals, championing complimentary programs and promoting events that we think will help entrepreneurs.
Complimentary to the support organizations and their role in the state are multiple business competitions providing founders with focus, promotion and funding. TechOut is the largest of the bunch, but the Marandos Entrepreneurial Challenge by SNHU, Social Venture Innovation Challenge and Holloway Competition by UNH, and the all new REDC Granite State Growth Competition all offer many benefits.
Internally, we have created a NH Tech Alliance Startup Committee to help us prioritize and take advantage of ways to further enhance our startup work. The committee is co-chaired by Emily Penascovic from Cook Little Rosenblatt and Manson and Michelle Kuegler of PeKu Publications and includes membership from different regions of the state that represent various industries and includes investors, entrepreneurs and founders and business leaders and advisors.
Late last year we ran the second annual Speed Venture Summit – essentially speed dating for investors and startups. The event is still a topic of conversation among startups and investors, creating deal-flow and building networks. Those important connections are creating lifting winds for 2019 and we plan to run the event again in late September.
I have seen all of this build to a positive impact already this year. We recently had a record number of applications for the 2019 Accelerate NH program. Now in its 5th year, the momentum is real. Not only was the quantity of applications impressive, more importantly the quality of startups applying to the program was beyond my own expectations. Our cohort plans changed somewhat simply to make room for the many inspiring startups making their mark right here in New Hampshire. The 2019 cohort is sure to impress during their demo day and Startup Shindig event on May 30.
During my conversations with the many startup founders we inevitably come to talking about New Hampshire. Why start your business here instead of one of the larger startup ecosystems? Interestingly there isn’t a hesitation when asked. People love New Hampshire. They love living here. Startup founders know they can build a business anywhere. Gone are the requirements to move to one of the major hubs. Why not build where they really want to be? Additionally, the breadth of experience here is staggering. Not only are we near many top universities, but we have become a state that experienced and educated people want to live in. That experience supports not just creating new entrepreneurs but mentoring our talent as well.
Mentors throughout the state volunteer their time to help entrepreneurs at all stages. Most of the time this is a natural process from building personal networks and inspiring others. Other times a program, such as our accelerator, creates mentor networks intended to fast track the connections and engagement. Many successful entrepreneurs and their businesses owe their success in part to those that have gone before them and who lend a hand.
These are strong foundations to continue building our ecosystem. Thank you for being a part of the journey and please let us know how we can help.