The Blog


 As usual, a huge thank you to our supporters:
UVM, Vermont Technology Council, Middlebury College, Vermont Agency of Commerce, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, VT EPSCoR, Fairpoint Communications, and GBIC.

Member Spotlight:

Shannon Mitchell unnamed
GameTheory
School: Champlain College

Office: VCET@BTV

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are your interests?

I’m originally from Cranston, RI. Luckily we have the lake here in Burlington, so I don’t miss the ocean too much. Before coming to VT for school, I spent a lot of time working in Boston. I just graduated from Champlain College with a degree in management of creative media. Champlain is one of the top ten schools for game design majors, which is why I chose it. I’ve always been interested in making games, and especially gamification, which is the application of games to everyday problems. GameTheory is one of the few companies involved in that, which is why I wanted to remain in Vermont after I graduated. I love the BTV vibe and the fact that it is becoming a tech hub. There are lots of industries converging in VT right now which makes it a perfect location for companies like GameTheory that are involved in gamification.unnamed

How did you end up here at VCET? What do you enjoy about being in the space and what do you do for GameTheory?

I came to VCET when I was hired by GameTheory. I’m now GameTheory’s Project Manager, so I oversee all of our projects. My background is in art and design as well as tech, so I help our development team understand the clients’ needs and goals. I help to show our clients how their non-game related goals can be translated into game format. We also do consulting, but I’m not as involved in that side of the business.

The VCET space is so exciting and energetic. It has a really cool vibe. Where else could we grab a bunch of random people to go play laser tag in the middle of the week? It’s a great think tank environment. When I was in school, a lot of people didn’t understand what I was working on, and I was constantly having to explain game design. Here at VCET most everyone understands what I do.

You graduated recently, what have you found is the biggest adjustment now that you’re no longer in school?

I think the biggest adjustment is the mental shift. When you’re a student, the stakes are not particularly high. If you mess up it might impact your grades, but there aren’t really any consequences. Now I have a lot more responsibility and my actions actually have an impact on the world around me. Adapting to the shift in communities has also been a big adjustment. Before I was always surrounded by other students, but now I’m mostly around professionals in my field.

What do you think are the challenges facing recent college graduates here in Vermont? How do you think Vermont can do a better job of retaining young professionals?

The biggest challenge is expense. It’s not cheap to live here, so you have to find a job that pays you enough to be able to stay. A lot of my friends moved home after graduation. It’s important to make sure that there are enough resources for people who are just starting their careers. Having communities like VCET really helps since they provide networks all over VT. I’m a big fan of community events as well. I want to see Burlington be like Boston, where there were always more events than I could possibly attend. I believe that we can create a vibrant community like that here too.

News

Some changes for the month of July! I hope everyone has noticed our snazzy new logo by now. We went through the branding redesign to highlight VCET’s central tenet of People, Places, Capital, and are very excited about our new look! VCET is now also located online at www.vcet.co. Thanks to VCET member Travis Bragg for the incredible work. Check him out at qwerkal.com.

Make sure to check out the recent VPR piece “Across Vermont, Co-Working Spaces Are Helping to Foster Homegrown Small Businesses,” by Steve Zind. The article features VCET members Gretchen Kruesi of Horse Network and Tony Brogna of Bluestone Life, as well as our own Sam Roach-Gerber and David Bradbury on VCET membership and co-working in Vermont.

Recommended Reading

He Cofounded Kayak, Sold It For $2 Billion, And Is Back With Lola, Which Uses Human Travel Agents

Forbes Trep Talks interview with serial entrepreneur Bill M. English, cofounder of Kayak and current founder of Lola

Hint Water’s A Hit: Drink Brand Born In Kitchen Will Do $90M Sales In 2016
A great product often solves an entrepreneur’s own problem, as in the case of Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Water.

Pokémon Go Brings Augmented Reality to a Mass Audience
No, we have not gone back in time, people really are playing Pokémon again. In case you’ve been living under a rock, this NYT article gives great coverage of the new Pokémon Go craze.

Great Opportunities

unnamedApply now to present your startup at the 2016 New York Venture Summit on July 20th-21st at the Crowne Plaza NYC. “Whether you are an investor seeking access to new early stage deals, or a CEO or Founder of a new venture looking for funding, visibility and growth, New York Venture Summit is one event you won’t want to miss.”

Consider sponsoring the Vermont Technology Alliance. There are lots of benefits to be gained from sponsorship, as outlined by the vtTA. Contact Jeff Couture
Executive Director, jeff@vtta.org or 802-735-0840.

 As usual, a huge thank you to our supporters:
UVM, Vermont Technology Council, Middlebury College, Vermont Agency of Commerce, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, VT EPSCoR, Fairpoint Communications, and GBIC.

Member Spotlight:

Tommy Hyde
Documentary/Freelance Filmmakerunnamed

School: Middlebury
Office: VCET@BTV

Tell us a little about yourself. What are your interests?

I grew up spending summers in VT and graduated from Middlebury College in February of last year. I was an architecture major at Middlebury, but I got into filmmaking while I was still at school. After graduation, I moved out to Colorado for a year and got into the freelance film business. I moved back to Vermont this February to pursue my documentary, The Underdog, full time. When I was out in Colorado I also got into mountain biking, and I’m excited to dive back into that here in Vermont.

How did you end up here at VCET? What do you enjoy about being in the space and what do you do while you’re here?When I got to Burlington, I immediately connected with Ted Adler, a fellow Middlebury grad who is also a VCET alum, to find out about the entrepreneurship scene in Burlington. He suggested I check out VCET, which I did, and the rest is history. I’m a big fan of the public fridge!

I’m out filming my documentary a couple days a week. The Underdog follows a Middlebury dairy farmer who moonlights as a professional dogsled racer. When I’m not out filming, I’m here at VCET editing and doing administrative stuff. I also do freelance work for Higher Ground and some non-profits. I’m hoping to build my business, so if anyone at VCET needs some work done, I’m your man.
 

You graduated recently, what have you found is the biggest adjustment now that you’re no longer in school?

Not being on a semester schedule. I have to think about things in the long-term now. There’s not as much of a sense of things being temporary, this documentary will represent two years of filming. It’s also exciting though. I’m doing things for myself and my community now and not just for a grade.

 

What do you think are the challenges facing recent college graduates here in Vermont? How do you think Vermont can do a better job of retaining young professionals?

A lot of it comes down to the allure of the big city. Most of my friends have moved on to Boston, NYC, San Francisco, or DC. Everyone wishes they could stay here, but most people don’t think there are any jobs in Vermont. In reality though, I think there are more and more job opportunities, especially in solar work or tech. If these industries continue to grow here and actively seek out graduating seniors from Vermont colleges, more grads would stick around. There’s actually a good Midd community in Burlington, and a much better young professional community here than there was in Colorado. People don’t realize how much of a tech hub Burlington actually is. The city could use more PR about it.

News

In VCET news, this past week we played host to the New York Times @BTV. The NYT is doing a piece on “Burlington as a smart city,” and stopped by to check out the space and chat with Andy Rossmeissl of Faraday and our own Max Robbins and Peter Silverman of Beacon. We can’t wait to read the article! In addition, VPR also came by VCET@BTV this week to interview us.

Max and Peter, two of our student members @VCET have now successfully placed 5 students through Beacon and are moving to an automated platform to find student jobs. They also run a blog on their website where they interview entrepreneurs and write up local events. If anyone is interested in being included, they would love to chat!

Recommended Reading

Marketing Attribution-Creating a Growth Engine at Salesforce, Zendesk and Slack
Tips for applying marketing attribution to your startup from Slack CMO, Bill Macaitis

Should Your Driverless Car Hit a Pedestrian to Save Your Life?
An interesting take on the ethical dilemmas of advanced technologies like driverless cars from The New York Times

The Real Product Market Fit
“Michael Seibel, Y Combinator Partner, on knowing when you’ve found product market fit and when to keep looking.”

Great Opportunitiesunnamed (1)

Summer inventors day camp for middle school-aged girls at Norwich University. Students must be registered byFriday, July 15th in order to attend the August 1-5th camp. Learn more here.

 

Interested in working with Canadian tech companies? The Vermont-Quebec Enterprise Initiative is working to establish stronger business ties between Vermont and Quebec. Those with connections or interest in building their network across the border should email jeff@vtta.org and sign-in to the B2B Networking Platform COREX Opportunities.

Bonnie is passionate about making important ideas a reality. She uses a background in Psychology, an MBA, and entrepreneurial experience to help teams figure out how to best engage with customers, develop proactive business processes, and successfully grow their businesses. In addition to her work at VCET, Bonnie is the CEO of Reese Consulting and a PhD candidate in Natural Resources at UVM researching the role of innovation in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

 As usual, a huge thank you to our supporters:
UVM, Vermont Technology Council, Middlebury College, Vermont Agency of Commerce, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, VT EPSCoR, Fairpoint Communications, and GBIC.

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Member Spotlight:

Olivia Steimke
Bluestone Life

School: UVM
Office: VCET@BTV

 
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are your interests? 
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I’ve been living in VT for over 20 years now. I grew up here and went to BHS. I never get sick of Vermont! I was a hardcore lacrosse player for a long time and when I graduated high school, I originally went to Central Connecticut State University to play lacrosse. After a year however, I decided that I wanted to focus more on my education and came home to UVM, where I was a double major in accounting and marketing with an applied design minor. I am passionate about fashion, especially sustainable fashion and shopping, and some of my previous work here in Burlington has been fashion-oriented. I enjoy yoga in my free time.
 
How did you end up here at VCET? What do you enjoy about being in the space and what do you do for Bluestone Life?
 

After I graduated from UVM, I was immediately attracted to Bluestone’s core mission. I felt that it was closely aligned with my own personal beliefs. Bluestone’s mission is “to be a catalyst for human progress; protecting families, communities, and the planet for the next 7 generations.” That really resonated with me because I think that financial companies should be focused on more than just making money.

My job is to help our CEO and some of our other employees with organization and scheduling, as well as the adoption of new software. Everyone here at VCET is so friendly and its such a diverse crowd. I enjoy being around a lot of people and making connections with people I might otherwise not have known. In addition, I really appreciate seeing so many familiar faces. When I recognize other VCET members around town, even if I don’t know them personally, it gives me a sense of community.

 
You graduated recently, what have you found is the biggest adjustment now that you’re no longer in school?
 
It was an abrupt transition. I graduated, moved into a new apartment and started a new job all in about two weeks. It really tested my time management abilities. I still don’t feel like I have it all together, but once I do and I can settle into a routine, I think it will be much easier. I’m excited about the future, and even though there are some aspects of school that I miss, like getting to sleep in, I’m very excited and passionate about this next phase of my life.
 
What do you think are the challenges facing recent college graduates here in Vermont? How do you think Vermont can do a better job of retaining young professionals?
 
Everyone I know would love to stay in VT, but unfortunately there aren’t enough jobs in the area. No one wants to leave, they just feel like they have to. Most people I went to school with applied to Dealer.com, but if they didn’t get jobs there they mostly gave up. Housing is expensive if you don’t have family living in the area to rely on. I believe that places like VCET are the key to this issue, since they provide the infrastructure for businesses to get off the ground and eventually be a source of jobs here in VT.

News

VCET ninja, Mark Brooks

VCET member THINKmd was recently named a winner of the DAI Global Award. THINKmd was one of 296 applications from around the world, one of 9 finalists, and one of 4 winners. As a winner, THINKmd receives $20k in seed funding and the opportunity for a field visit to a DAI project in-country to assess their product/market fit with partners in the field. THINKmd will likely head to Guatemala with DAI later this summer with a focus on the Zika outbreak. Check out the announcement here.

Congratulations also to member Mark Brooks who has become VCET resident Ninja, earning his 6th degree Black Belt.

If you’re from southern VT, or headed down that way, you should keep Coworking Plus on your radar. The Brattleboro-based coworking space is launching soon, following a successful interest meeting on June 14th that garnered 18 Founding Member pledges.

In other news, VCET continues to grow to over 140 members across the UVM, Middlebury and FairPoint Technology Hub locations!


Recommended Reading

Jessica Livingston’s Pretty Complete List on How Not to Fail
Jessica Livingston, co-founder of Y Combinator, gives an insightful examination of how startups can set themselves up to succeed in her keynote address to the third annual Female Founders Conference.

How to Preempt Team Conflict
Working on a team can be great, but it can also be challenging. The Harvard Business Review provides some great strategies for navigating team struggles.

38 Startup Pitch Decks From Companies That Changed The World
“As an entrepreneur you need to be a rockstar at storytelling if you want to land capital from investors during your financing rounds.”

What Your Opportunity Slide is Missing – Make Investors Believe
Including an opportunity slide as part of your investor pitch is an often overlooked key to creating a great pitch and attracting VC partners.


Great Opportunities

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Vermont Technical College is offering certificates in web development and beginner and advanced software development. Learn how to apply here.

Consider taking advantage of the networking and professional development opportunities offered by the Burlington Young Professionals. Get your membership here.

Plan ahead for the third annual FreshTracks Road Pitch taking place August 1st-5th, 2016. If you’re an entrepreneur seeking advice or capital, this is a great opportunity. Contact your local organizer for a slot and learn more here.

 As usual, a huge thank you to our supporters:
UVM, Vermont Technology Council, Middlebury College, Vermont Agency of Commerce, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, VT EPSCoR, Fairpoint Communications, and GBIC.

Member Spotlight:

Chris Jones3c636ddf-702c-4e97-bbef-b3162ab72813
trUStrd90e517d-8ea0-44bd-96b9-c723517cbbdf
Office: VCET @BTV

 
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, how did you get involved with VCET? 
 
I was born in DC, but grew up in New Hampshire. I ended up in Vermont as a lifestyle choice. My previous company, ForMyOdds, was also incubated at VCET. We built the first IVF predictive app, the first multiple sclerosis predictive app, and another one for breast cancer pathways. A number of pharma companies have asked us to customize these apps towards the wearables space, and to capture data from the Internet of Things (IoT), so that’s where these apps are heading. We enhanced these greatly with help from Marguerite Dibble and the GameTheory team. We built many relationships through FMO that have been extremely valuable in building trUStr. We also had Uwe Heiss design our awesome logo and slides.
 
What is trUStr?
 
trUStr is all about rewards for best practices. We’ve cracked a nut in that we’re able to reward any behavioral change that will resonate over time in the best possible way. As we apply behavioral economic theory to what we’re doing, we’ve been able to make getting rewarded fun and beneficial. This is really a purpose-driven company. The environment we’ve created is extremely secure, which is very important to users, and we have a super smart and creative team. We’ve tested different markets, (like the insurance markets), but we have some secret sauce that we believe will be disruptive.
 
What makes trUStr unique? What makes Vermont unique?
 
trUStr rewards excellence in unexpected ways that work. As it gets rolled out, we expect to learn a lot more about what motivates change. I have been able to work with local universities and non-profit entities that bring real competitive advantage to the market. Vermont offers a rich intellectual environment, but with a lack of business infrastructure and relatively low cost of living, which is actually a big advantage for us. The extremely knowledgeable and creative people available in Vermont would have been quickly snatched up on the west coast.
 
How did you come up with trUStr?
 
UVM’s Dr. John Evans suggested that I create something in Vermont that leverages incentives; originally I said no. But shortly after that conversation, believe it or not, trUStr came to me in a dream. Existing rewards programs provide overly standardized options. It is the people who run marathons that are winning the corporate wellness contests, yet the bottom 10% are the ones costing companies the most resources. I envisioned a better solution and put together the right team to make it happen.
 
What’s your biggest challenge right now?
 

Finding the right talent for our team and choosing smart money that will give us an 18 month runway. We want to stay in VT, and the venture firms have so far been very supportive of that. Another challenge has been grabbing market share, while keeping things simple and staying true to ourselves. We have so many great ideas which we bookmark, but we need to stay focused. Cyber-hygiene presented an ideal  to leverage our contacts who have renowned expertise in cybersecurity. David Bradbury helped to put us together with Norwich University and it is looking very promising. We are really excited about rewarding good cyber practices such as changing passwords and logging off. This is HUGE.

What has been your largest success?

My daughters (ages 1 and 4). They’re constantly inspiring me. Being dad has also made me much more efficient with my time. I know that I have to get everything done during the day so that I can spend time with my daughters when I’m at home.

What are you looking forward to most on a personal level?

Taking the stigma out of making yourself a better you. And I want to see more people connecting and getting along through disruptive innovations. I also want to help the innovators of tomorrow. I’m done inventing, I want to enhance other people’s ideas.

Anything else you want us to know about you or trUStr?

It’s free to the user. We hope that we’ll encourage people by nudging them towards a more fabulous self. It’s a win-win to the employer and the person using trUStr, not to mention the advertiser and the whole trUStr team. I’d like to say that trUStr will ride shotgun with company wellness initiatives, but that expression may be dated to 2016!

Also, I recently rode in the first 3D printed super car (as seen above), called Blade! Check it out here.


News

VCET@BTV welcomes three new groups: Ogee, ThinkMD, and the UVM Medical Center Innovation Program, as well as several new individuals.


Dave’s Pick of the Week:

The Bill Simmons Podcast
Ep. 95: Billionaire Investor Chris Sacca


Recommended Reading

The One Step Everyone Misses In Marketing (And How To Fix It)
Andy Karuza, founder at brandbuddee.com and co-founder at Fensens, reminds entrepreneurs not to market backwards.

No Venture Capital Needed, or Wanted
A great New York Times article on the difference between start-ups that are self-financed and those that seek investors to raise money.

The Harvard Innovation Labs: The story behind the numbers
A great account of how Harvard has bridged the gap between different fields to foster entrepreneurial innovation through their Innovation Labs

What does it take to raise capital, in SaaS, in 2016?
Christoph Janz, Managing Partner at Point Nine Capital and SaaS investor, gives his thoughts on raising capital in the SaaS industry.


Great Opportunities

Got Kids? Check out the VT Summer Tech Camps for ages 6-14 run by the Young Hacks Academy. They are being held in locations all over VT this summer, including Burlington and Middlebury.

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Liberty Dupuis is a student at Smith College working as a VCET summer associate. She is a double major in economics and medieval studies and serves as Conduct Board Outreach Chair. While at school, Liberty enjoys playing polo and works as an intern for the Smith College Horse Memoirs Project. As a VCET associate, Liberty assists with social media, research, and VCET portfolio companies, as well as working on a number of other current and upcoming projects.

Please find attached the FY15 Vermont Seed Capital Fund (VSCF) Annual Report for public stakeholders.  Included in the report is Subsequent Event information as of December 31, 2015. Some company transactions in process simply took longer to close than expected this year.So far, the Vermont Seed Capital Fund, which is managed by the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET)  has now invested into 20 diverse early stage companies since May 2010, seen its portfolio attract cumulatively over $66M in capital, support nearly $30M in payroll, and generate revenues of over $36M, so far …  However, there remains much to do, it is always dynamic and risky given this sector of investment, but the Fund’s challenges ahead pale in comparison to the incredible efforts, ambition, innovation and risks undertaken by these entrepreneurs, employees, co-investors and partners.

Thank you for your continued support for the Fund, VCET and for Vermont’s entrepreneurs and start-ups. Please direct any questions to David Bradbury at david@Vermonttechnologies.com.

Click here for the report: VSCF FY15 Annual Public Report

Samantha “Sam” Roach-Gerber is a 2013 graduate of Northeastern University where she studied Organizational Communication and Environmental Studies. Prior to joining VCET, Sam spent three years managing Customer Service and Sales at Vermont Farm Table. Before moving to Vermont, Sam interned for WeSpire and EnerNOC, two companies she greatly admires. As Director of Innovation at VCET, Sam oversees programming and partnerships, membership, events, communications and marketing. She also co-hosts VCET’s podcast, Start Here.

Julia Wood is a student at the University of Vermont working as a VCET associate. At UVM, she is majoring in economics with a double minor in environmental studies and business administration. She is also part of the Honors College and serves as the Vice President of Finance of TriDelta, Chief Administrative Officer of the Economics Club, and a member of the Honors College Student Advisory Group. At VCET, Julia aids with social media, interpreting data, and works on  a variety of other projects.

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October 20, 2015 (Burlington, VT): The Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) and Hotel Vermont hosted the InnovateHER VT Challenge, a new business pitch event in Burlington, VT on Monday, October 19th to a packed house of area entrepreneurs, students, and innovation ecosystem participants.  Mamava, a company who delivers design solutions for nursing mamas on the go, was named the contest’s $10,000 prize winner.

“We were incredibly inspired by our co-presenters last night and are deeply humbled to receive this award. We’re very hopeful and excited to represent our brand and Vermont on the larger SBA stage, showcasing how successful business is not only about doing well, but about doing the right thing” said Sascha Mayer of Mamava.

VCET received 37 different applications for the competition but had to narrow it down to 6 companies for this pitch event. Wheelpad, JoyRyde, Recontext Solutions, ThinkMD, BioFlag and Mamava shared 5 minute pitches of how their company makes an impact on the lives of women or families. Over 100 people filled Hotel Vermont’s Juniper Hall to hear these stories.

“The vibrancy, strength and diversity among Vermont’s entrepreneurs was clear to all,” said VCET President David Bradbury.  “Teams came from Hardwick, Wilmington, Burlington and Middlebury and showed real solutions for genuine market problems ranging from cancer drug discovery, data science tools for education outcomes and anti-texting while driving apps.”

” Each presenter did an outstanding job and the ideas and concepts presented were in some cases life changing and in all cases disruptive of the current (which is what we want). Hotel Vermont was honored to be a co-host of this event and looks forward to an active winter with more activities together with VCET,” said Hans Van Wees, General Manager of Hotel Vermont.

Thanks to Kelly Scannell from Reading Plus, co-founder of Dealer.com Rick Gibbs and Mary Evslin founder of NG Advantage who were on the judges panel and had the difficult task of selecting just one comapny to receive the $10,000 cash prize.

Vermont EPSCoR and VCET underwrote this year’s cash prize.  Mamava also receives a nomination to participate in the national US Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER contest in spring 2016.
“Our team was really impressed with the quality of the ideas, execution, and pitches from little ol’ Vermont- every single pitch was very compelling.” — Lyn Olignaro, founder of BioFlag

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About Hotel Vermont: Locally developed, designed and owned/operated, the rustic and modern Hotel Vermont is the first independent hotel to join the quaint town of Burlington. The 125-room, LEED-certified hotel features an array of Vermont-made amenities from local partners. www.hotelvt.com.

About VT EPSCoR:  The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is a program designed to fulfill the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide.  Through this program, the NSF establishes partnerships with government, higher education and industry that are designed to effect lasting improvements in a state’s or region’s research infrastructure, R&D capacity and hence, its national R&D competitiveness.  Dr. Judith Van Houten serves as Vermont State EPSCoR Director and is currently leading the Research on Adaptation to Climate Change in the Lake Champlain Basin (RACC) initiative.  In 1992, the SBIR Phase (0) program for small businesses was launched in Vermont by Dr. Van Houten with Dr. Josh Van Houten, Professor Emeritus, Saint Michael’s College.  It now serves as a national model for small business development across EPSCoR jurisdictions. Visit us at www.uvm.edu/EPSCoR

About Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET): Since 2008, VCET has worked with  over 1,300 start-ups and entrepreneurs, now operates 3 coworking facilities, curates an expert mentor network and makes direct investments from a $5M revolving seed capital fund.  VCET was co-founded by US Senator Patrick Leahy, the University of Vermont’s Dr. John Evans and the Vermont Technology Council. In 2013, VCET was named #11 globally and #5 in the US by the UBI Index.Visit at www.VermontTechnologies.com and follow @VCET