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Sentry Commercial’s Curt Gemme on Hartford’s Upstart Ecosystem

Twenty years ago I would describe the vibe in Hartford as non existent. Nobody lived downtown to speak of and at the end of the day it was like a ghost town.

Now getting back involved in Hartford over the past 5 months has been an amazing experience. I was excited to dig in and see just what was going on in Hartford today. I had dozens of lunches with Hartford’s business leaders and participated in a multitude of networking events through the BOMA and REFA organizations. I was asked by Devra Sisitsky, Executive Director, MakerspaceCT to be part of their Legacy Committee.

I attended some the best Christmas parties and talked with hundreds of people. The result I can tell you is that there is an ecosystem which exists. It’s about culture, community, collaboration and innovation. Businesses partnering with each other to effect change in how their industries, including Insurance, Healthcare, Commercial Real Estate, etc will work in the future.

What’s even more amazing is Hartford is culturally rich with companies and entrepreneurs coming into the city from over 50 countries. In fact, Hartford, for many of these entrepreneurs it is their first ever entry point into the United States. Grey Flynn, Director of Upward Hartford Labs and I were at an event at the Stanley Innovation Center in downtown and we were trying to determine just how many startups are coming through Hartford each year. We think it could now be close to 100 startups a year. Wow!

Hartford has become one of the top 10 markets for technology jobs and one of the top markets for college grads looking to find a job. University of Connecticut’s downtown campus is at maximum capacity with 1650 undergrads and 1650 graduate students. There are now over 2,500 downtown residents, with more coming to work in our City from all over the place. Not to mention new renovation apartment construction on Pearl Street, 101 units all leased in under 6 months.

So what is Hartford’s upstart ecosystem? Digital Health CT, Rainmaking, Startubootcamp, Nassau-Re, Re-set, Stanley Innovation Center, InsurTec, Medtec, Launch Hartford, MakerspaceCT. All organizations driving innovation through programs, mentoring, funding and leadership to give these entrepreneurs a better chance of success.

Just this week Digital Health CT held its Velocity Demo Day 2020 at the Bushnell and we had the opportunity to hear from 10 different medtec companies. With close to 600 people in attendance, this was an amazing event. Also, this week we’re humbled to be part of Upward Hartford Labs partner week where we meet with 5 CEO’s of PropTec companies that are looking to launch their businesses over the next year. So yes, Hartford has created a vibe and it’s unique and culturally diverse. Very exciting times for Hartford today and ahead…


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