Megan Eaton says that she has always been extremely shy. Just walking in the door at the Grove Friday night at the kickoff of Startup Weekend New Haven was a huge step. She wasn’t certain if she could summon up the nerve to pitch an idea or become part of a team or if she would just watch. Mike Roer, her Entrepreneurship instructor at Gateway Community College (GCC), had quietly been urging her on.
So on Friday night she decided to jump in. She became part of Krishna Sampath’s team. A New Haven attorney, his idea was to create a tech company that would link prospective clients to attorneys and attorneys to clients using short videos where attorneys explained different facets of the law. Called A Good First Step, the team had 54 hours to build the company from the ground up. In that time, Eaton designed her team’s logo; she talked with more than 35 people in the downtown area, telling them about their proposed product and asking if they thought the product had a place in the market and if so, how?
The team won second place at Startup Weekend New Haven’s competition, one of over 100 such events that took place around world as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The weekend began with 60 people pitching ideas. The audience chose the top ideas and nine teams formed around them. Over the course of the weekend, they developed business models; some created websites and app prototypes and marketing plans. On the final “Demo Day” at GCC Sunday night, co-hosted by the Gateway Community College Foundation, each team gave a five-minute final presentation and the top three winners were chosen by a panel of judges.
Lindy Lee Gold, Chair of the Gateway Community College Foundation, opened the evening’s event and said she was inspired by what those gathered were trying to do: build a company from scratch. “Welcome to our hall of dreams,” she said. “Gateway Community College is about helping people make their dreams come true. Whether you win or lose, we believe in you. You are our new economy. We hope you have continued success and you set up in New Haven or at least in Connecticut!”