The Hartford Skyline
Hartford’s Skyline. Credit: f11photo / Shutterstock

reSET, the Hartford-based company whose mission is to build up businesses in the social impact sector, is launching its annual Impact Accelerator competition with its first-ever hybrid kick-off party on Thursday.

The event, in which 11 startup companies will vie for financial support, will be both live at the reSET office at 1429 Park St. in Hartford and virtual, allowing attendees to come in person or to watch the event via Zoom. The event runs from 5:30 until 8 p.m. To register to attend, click here.

There is limited space for the in-person event, but those who join online will be able to hear the pitches and the remarks from featured guest speakers. Each pitch will also be live-streamed on Instagram.

Nichole Hawkins
Nichole Hawkins, reSET’s program coordinator, is also a 2020 Impact Accelerator graduate. She placed third in 2020 and is the founder of Legacy Lineage, an early education and family support organization for Hartford residents. Credit: Contributed photo / reSET / Social Enterprise Trust

“This is a demonstration of that idea of resilience,” said Nichole Hawkins, reSET’s program coordinator. “This is how we are living now, and this is an example of how we can navigate this in a safe space that is comfortable for everyone.”

The Impact Accelerator kickoff will let the public meet representatives from each of the 11 companies, and each company outlines its plans. Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, and Onyeka Obiocha of CTNext are also expected to attend.

Organizers hope this year’s event will provide a much-needed energy boost as the state emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a really great opportunity to network,” Hawkins said, adding that there is plenty of Zoom fatigue and desire to gather again.

For the next three months, the 11 startup companies will receive mentorship, one-on-one advice, and other training that will culminate with a venture showcase where each business will share plans to address societal issues while growing their company.

Hawkins said this year’s group represents a variety of businesses, each with a mission in a different area of impact.

“We are just seeing the beginning of what they are going to do,” Hawkins said. “I’m really excited to see where they are going to grow.”

The pandemic has truly driven home the need to pivot, taking a business in new directions when necessary, Hawkins said. 

“Some of these businesses were developed because of COVID, or the idea of pivoting the business came along because of COVID,” Hawkins said. One catering business had to switch to e-commerce during the shutdown, she said.

reSET – which is also known as the Social Enterprise Trust – supports businesses that are mission-driven, whether through social or environmental initiatives. reSET’s Accelerator has had 143 businesses graduate, and the organization estimates that those graduates have generated more than $21 million in revenue and supported more than 400 jobs. Further, 87% of businesses supported by reSET are women- or minority-owned, according to its website.

The companies selected for the 2022 Impact Accelerator are: 

  • Lauren Simone Publishing is a publishing service located in Hartford, which connects a diverse set of aspiring authors with illustrators to create children’s books that appeal to a wide audience.
  • The Greener Gift, which produces textile goods designed for a greener lifestyle as well as eco-education. 
  • Breakfast Belle, which produces Southern-style cuisine, specializing in breakfast and brunch.
  • Eco Evolution, which sells home, bath, kitchen, body, and laundry products that are eco-friendly.
  • Ital Creations is a natural body care company specializing in educating the community on self/skincare and products.
  • More Than A Coloring Book, which produces items including coloring pages and journals (inspired by people of color).
  • HR Zoom, which promotes diversity, social equity, and empowerment for the workplace.
  • SoChill, a CBD lifestyle brand promoting self-care culture via ethically sourced hemp products.
  • History Chip, a fully-searchable online archive with a focus on including information regarding women, people of color, and other marginalized groups.
  • Jodi Cup of Health, which produces all natural handmade products.
  • Momentum Life Mastery Coaching supports individuals and groups using a holistic approach to facilitate customized coaching programs, workshops, and 1:1 personal development services.