With a focus on advising startups, Tech Tour stops in Groton

Groton – Traveling in an Airstream Classic, investor and entrepreneur Paul Singh took his North American Tech Tour to Groton this week for three days of roundtables, one-on-one consultations and fireside chats, all aimed at helping startup businesses.

His visit May 8-10 followed a one-day visit in the fall.

Ignite, an entrepreneur-supporting organization through Thames River Innovation Place, partnered with Crossroads Venture Group to bring Singh to Groton. Most of the events were held at the Innovation Commons, a lab and co-working space.

"This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to sit and to talk to a lawyer, to an accounting firm," said Mary Anne Rooke, executive director of Crossroads Venture Group. She added that the goal is getting people connected to a resource that they might not find otherwise.

Singh has hit 107 cities since he started the Tech Tour two years ago, helping people who he feels have ambition but lack "functional expertise."

"Half the reason why we're here is because we want to find and fund the most promising entrepreneurs," he said, "but the other half of why we're here is because we really want to help entrepreneurs get to the next thousand dollars in revenue."

The event kicked off on Tuesday with a roundtable on angel investing, networking, a discussion on "the difference between getting bought and being sold," and a chance for startups to record their stories for a podcast.

Chris DeMorro, host of the CTStartup podcast and president of the digital marketing agency Sublime Exposure Online, interviewed people for a CVG podcast.

He talked to Darwyn Azzinaro of the i2e Consulting about the company's goal of raising $750,000 to expand its project management software and expand its user base.

He talked to Kristin Harkness about the latest with Spark Makerspace. He talked to Marien Zanyk about her company Zaneez Freestyle Fitness.

He talked to Grasso Tech senior Matthew Gillen and Stonington High School senior Ryan Fornara about their company Voxion. They have a functional prototype of software they call Hotel Helper, which goes on a Google Home to allow hotel guests to order room service without calling the front desk.

They demonstrated the software to Harkness on Tuesday evening.

"You asked for room service. What may I get for you?" the Hotel Helper inquires.

"I'd like some chicken tenders and a Coke," Gillen replies.

"What is your room number?" the Hotel Helper asks, after a little more back and forth.

"405," Gillen replies. And the order is complete.

On Wednesday, the Tech Tour involved programs with area high school students, participation in the New London Food Stroll and a fireside chat on food startups, held at the restaurant and cultivator kitchen RD86.

On Thursday, 10 companies made showcase pitches: Analzye Futures, Avitus Orthopaedics, Blue Laurel, CrowdFlik, Focal Ops, Mission Biomedical Scientific, Sheen Health, SmartOR, The Brain Institute of America and The Feel Good Lab.

Fairfield University rising juniors Matt Fanelli and Ashley Ramirez then talked about their app targeted to college students: Tempas, which Fanelli described as "a simplified and organized social media productivity platform" that allows students to link their schedules in one place, and allows local businesses to advertise.

Tempas plans to launch a pilot at Fairfield University in the fall, and then spread to other area colleges, like Sacred Heart University and the University of Bridgeport.

The Tempas co-founders had connected with i2e Consulting at a CVG event, and i2e ended up building their prototype.

The Tech Tour stop in Groton concluded with a fireside chat between Singh and BioCT President Dawn Hocevar, and then networking.

e.moser@theday.com

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