On Wednesday, November 20, Housatonic Community College (HCC) celebrated student entrepreneurs as they displayed their business concepts at the 3rd Annual VentureLab Showcase.
Over 210 community members, students, faculty and staff visited the fourteen teams of student entrepreneurs, who were in all phases of their businesses, ranging from recently created ideas to well-established business plans. Visitors to the showcase were inspired by alternative clothing designs, monthly snack-box deliveries, event and party planning, custom pins to help teens express themselves and home furnishings using 3-D printing, to name a few.
“The Student Entrepreneur Showcases continue to demonstrate the creativity and drive of our students at Housatonic to create new businesses, and the critical role of community colleges to inspire and coach job-generating ventures,” said Mike Roer, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at HCC and President of the Entrepreneurship Foundation Inc.
The VentureLab assists students with the capital, knowledge, and skills necessary to test and launch their business dreams. Leveraging college and community resources, students receive one-on-one business counseling and a secure on-campus space to work on their businesses while preparing to step into manager/owner roles in Main Street businesses, either as founders or purchasers of existing businesses. Donors of our VentureLab, including People’s United Community Foundation and AVANGRID, make these opportunities possible for our students.
“The VentureLab program is providing students with an educational experience that extends beyond the classroom,” said Karen Galbo, Executive Director of People’s United Community Foundation. “Whether or not the students go on to run successful businesses, they’re gaining valuable skills that can be applied to any career path they choose.”
As many HCC students are low-to-moderate income, and are often single-parent households juggling multiple jobs and school, the VentureLab support goes a long way. For many of these students, although they have the passion, work ethic, and creativity, starting a business is viewed as an impossible dream.
Other students face obstacles such as poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, inadequate health care, and other challenges that can derail them from their educational and life goals. Participating in VentureLab provides a path for students with an entrepreneurial spirit to move from poverty to self-sufficiency, while at the same time contributing to the region’s economic development.
“It was wonderful to see the excitement of the students when talking to them about their business concepts and ways of promoting the products they created. We are proud of our partnership with HCC and the students that work diligently to make their dreams of starting a business a reality.” said Eileen Lopez-Cordone, Economic & Community Development Specialist for Orange-based AVANGRID, parent company of United Illuminating and Southern Connecticut Gas.
“It was gratifying to see the connection between the community, the college and Avangrid resulting in meaningful results for students and consistent with our company’s commitment to global sustainability principles,” said Devang Patel, General Manager at AVANGRID.
Housatonic Community College and the Housatonic Community College Foundation (HCCF) are grateful to Avangrid, People’s United Community Foundation and Bigelow Tea for their ongoing support of VentureLab. To learn more about supporting VentureLab, please contact Kristy Jelenik, HCCF Executive Director at or call 203-332-5078.
Caption For Photo Above: Left to right: Karen Galbo, Executive Director of People’s United Community Foundation, Kristy Jelenik, Valerie Senew, SVP, Sr. Growth Manager at People’s United Bank, and Mike Roer, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at HCC.
Caption Left and Right: Housatonic Community College students in the VentureLab Showcase.
Caption Left and Right: Pam Pirog, Best Business Concept student winner Imanol Flores, Eileen Lopez-Cordone, Economic & Community Development Specialist for Orange-based AVANGRID, Best Exhibit student winner Rebecca DelValle, Devang Patel, General Manager at AVANGRID and Crowd Favorite student winner Saraphina Pierre.