April 10, 2019

Entrepreneurs to get boost from accelerator program

PHOTO | Collab New Haven
PHOTO | Collab New Haven

Entrepreneurs who have businesses aimed at helping new mothers, emergency room patients and homeless youth were among those chosen recently to get an array of assistance, from money to mentoring.

Collab New Haven announced its selection of seven ventures which will participate in its Collab Spring Accelerator 2019.

Collab's co-founders and co-directors, Caroline Smith and Margaret Lee, want to make entrepreneurship available to everyone. The organization works to remove barriers faced by many potential entrepreneurs, particularly people of color, women and immigrants.

"We had a board of evaluators come to select the final seven ventures," Lee said. "Each venture stood out to all of us for their ideas and traction, but most importantly, each of the entrepreneurs stood out to us as people. They're all passionate, committed, and relentlessly community-minded. We think that's what will help carry them through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship."

Smith added, "Collab employs a holistic, community-driven model to provide entrepreneurs the resources, skills, and confidence they need to be successful and impactful. Collab entrepreneurs have opportunities to gain access to resources, build their own confidence, and collaborate with a network with Collab service providers and mentors. With the support of the entire Collab community, they can walk down sustainable pathways towards long-term venture success."

Those selected are awarded $1,000 and participate in a 10-week workshop series on leadership and entrepreneurship. They also receive individual coaching and a mentor from the Collab Mentor Network. They also become eligible for pro bono help from corporate partners, who can help their businesses with legal and marketing services. Participants also get the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors and community representatives.

Collab started accepting applications in January for the program and received applications from 40 ventures and 73 entrepreneurs.

Melissa Stoll with Stoll Enterprises, an event management business, said she was "very excited" to be among those chosen, particularly considering how there were more than 70 who applied.

"I am very grateful that they felt this particular business was deserving," Stoll said. "It will be nice to learn how to grow it. I have already met the other recipients, and I think I can learn from everyone."

Since Collab is seeking to create a diverse business community, it encourages applications from minority groups. Of the applicants, 73 percent included ventures led by women, 73 percent were led by people of color, and 63 percent were led by women of color, according to Collab's website.

The seven ventures include:

Camp Rewind: Program of John B Howard Adult Day Center

Founders: Diane Lewis, Candace Williams, Monica Haith

Camp Rewind is the state's first summer day camp for adults age 55 and over, and it is designed to help older adults connect socially and engage with their communities.


Founders: Marina Marmolejo, Yusuf Ransome

DreamKit is a web-based app for homeless youth to catalogue their experiences. It allows these young people to receive support from various places, from their peers to the community and local businesses. The goal is to help them find a permanent home quickly.


Founder: Della Leapman

Loci aims to make small changes to physical spaces and modular designs to create functioning and affordable lactation rooms.

Emergent Access Services

Founder: Aneetrai Rowland

Emergent Access Services is a mobile app for emergency room patients. It provides users with information such as expected wait time frame and status.

Stoll Enterprises

Founders: Melissa Stoll

Stoll Enterprises is an event-management company specializing in sports events, coaching, team building and leadership development. Stoll's aim is to promote healthy living and active communities.

Threads By Tea

Founder: Terone Montgomery

Threads by Tea creates handcrafted, wearable art aimed at inspiring clients to take fashion risks and express themselves.

Zen Zilla Yoga and Wellness

Founder: Jumai-Shefau Dabre-Rufus

Zen Zilla Yoga and Wellness offers affordable guided meditation, yoga and mindfulness sessions to increase access to health and wellness, particularly for the African-American community.

For more information on the program, visit Collab's website at https://collabnewhaven.org/

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at msullo@newhavenbiz.com

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