Startup Companies Go Through Their Paces For Stanley's Hartford 'Demo Day' | Connecticut Public Radio
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Startup Companies Go Through Their Paces For Stanley's Hartford 'Demo Day'

Oct 6, 2019

The latest class of start-up companies being fostered by Stanley Black & Decker at its Hartford accelerator will show off their innovations Monday, in an event the company calls Demo Day

Business accelerators - which provide mentoring and investment for nascent companies - are all the rage these days, and it’s becoming increasingly common to see big corporations like New Britain’s Stanley Black & Decker taking startup companies under their wing.

The toolmaker opened its Hartford facility last year in partnership with Techstars, which operates some 50 accelerators around the world. Many of Techstars' sites are in major cities, and are what the organization calls "subject-matter agnostic;" in other words, companies that participate can be working on any type of product or service.

But increasingly Techstars is also working with big corporations including Stanley, Amazon and Barclays, on accelerators that focus on just one or two business types. Stanley's first class of companies which graduated from the accelerator last year were all focused on additive manufacturing -- otherwise known as 3D printing. This new class has some still in that subject area, but others looking at sustainable packaging, and ways to cut down on plastic waste.

Techstars’ Claudia Reuter says a program like this can radically improve the chances of success for a new business.

“Traditionally in the venture community about 1 out of 10 startups succeeds," she told Connecticut Public Radio. "Whereas we now have about an 87% success rate in long-term health of companies.”

One of the ways they get to that number is by being very selective; of the hundreds of companies that apply to the accelerator, just 10 a year make it in. Reuter said she's particularly proud that of this year's crop at Stanley's accelerator, half have a female CEO or founder. 

"In venture investing, typically only 3% of funding goes to female-led businesses," she said.

Once accepted into the program, the businesses get 13 weeks of hothousing -- the advice of business experts, investors and academics -- to refine their ideas, and plan how to get their product to market.

According to Stanley’s Marty Guay, there’s a big pay off for his company too.

“For us it’s a way to really understand what problems entrepreneurs and startups are trying to solve in this area, to really leverage the knowledge being created in the world outside our four walls,” he said.

For Demo Day, the culmination of the program, the public is invited to the Bushnell Theater in Hartford to hear each of the companies pitch their ideas.

Last year, 4 of the 10 companies chose to stay in Connecticut and establish their business in the state.