[CT Post] Reviving the Spirit of Stamford Entrepreneurship

Photo: Alexander Soule

Two years after the launch of the Stamford Innovation Center, managing partner Barry Schwimmer reflects on how deeply the entrepreneurial spirit has rooted in Stamford and how much deeper it could go. Photo: Alexander Soule

December 12th 2014

In attempting to rekindle startup formation in Connecticut in 2012, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made the fledgling Stamford Innovation Center a Fairfield County hub for entrepreneurs to seek out mentors and grow their companies. Two years later, managing partner Barry Schwimmer takes the pulse of Stamford’s startup vitality with Advocate business writer Alexander Soule.

Q: How would you describe entrepreneurial spirit in Stamford on the doorstep of 2015?

A: In 2012, it was very hard to find entrepreneurial spirit in the city of Stamford. People were doing stuff — there were companies that were doing creative stuff — but it was very much in the shadows. We’ve had dozens of companies come through this building. We’ve been very fortunate that we got some money from the state, and we’ve had great (support) from big companies and some services firms. That has really helped us to move this forward, but I don’t think there is anywhere near enough money focused on this community at the early stages. You can get the pre-seed, formative stage, `I have an idea’ kind of funding — friends and family, state grants, what have you. The problem really is, in this environment, going from that to something that is investable. You can put together a model and you can do lean methodology and all this stuff, but it’s getting from that to the point where you can prove you can scale — that’s really hard. It’s easier to get the first customer than to get the 50th, because the resources and skill sets to get that … to get noticed and start scaling it are really, really different. And one of the things that’s important as we go through the next steps of SIC is to either have those resources here ourselves, or make sure that we provide really effective conduits to those resources. The reality is going to be some combination of both…. central hub

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