Nurturing new ideas

Fairfield University joins town and business to give entrepreneurs a boost

Ken Kleban of Kleban Properties (left) is congratulated by Donald Gibson Ph.D., dean of the Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University, and Mark Barnhart, Fairfield director of economic development, on the opening of the Fairfield Accelerator and Mentoring Enterprise. (Kendra Wingate Photo)

The first three clients for the Fairfield Accelerator and Mentoring Enterprise are Jamie Ramerini of Watt U Control, Daphne Dixon of Conscious Decisions, and Nicole Juliano Peranick of With Love from the Cupboard. (Kendra Wingate Photo)

Celebrating the launch of the Fairfield Accelerator and Mentoring Enterprise are Albert Kleba, president of Kleban Properties; state Rep. Brenda Kupchick; state Sen. John McKinney; Fairfield University President the Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J.; Dr. Donald Gibson, dean of the Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University. state Rep. Kim Fawcett; state Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Catherine Smith; and First Selectman Michael Tetreau. (Kendra Wingate Photo)

Three keystone Fairfield businesses are teaming up to help the next generation of entrepreneurs see their ideas bloom.

The Fairfield Accelerator and Mentoring Enterprise (FAME) opened Tuesday, Oct. 29, on the second floor at 1499 Post Road, also home to the downtown Fairfield University bookstore. Kleban Properties, Fairfield University and the town’s Economic Development Department joined forces to give businesses a boost.

“This is a wonderful collaboration and a wonderful example of collaboration between the university, the town of Fairfield and the business community, especially represented by the Klebans, who are such wonderful landlords to us already here at the bookstore,” Fairfield University President the Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx SJ said. “We are absolutely thrilled to be continuing that partnership and we look forward to what’s further developing.”

Applications are available for both adults and students, and are not limited to technology businesses. FAME is also seeking investors and sponsors. Sponsorship and application information may be obtained by sending an email to [email protected] Applications may be made online at fairfield.edu/fame.

Selected applicants will be provided with shared office space downtown, courtesy of Kleban Properties; access to mentors from Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business and the School of Engineering faculty; discounted services, including technology resources, graphic artists and legal services; and potential start-up funding.

The business community will provide educational workshops and programs to help with ideation, valuation and competitive analysis.

“Cultivating promising new business ideas will benefit the region and beyond,” said Donald Gibson Ph.D., dean of the Dolan School of Business. “It’s a win-win for the community, entrepreneurs, and the university. We encourage people who’d like to see their business plans turned into reality to apply.”

The first three client companies were introduced during the celebration: Daphne Dixon’s Conscious Decisions, Nicole Juliano Peranick’s With Love from the Cupboard, and Jamie Ramerini’s Watt U Control.

Conscious Decisions is described as “the trusted source to educate community members and municipalities on the key building blocks that create and foster resiliency through face-to-face events, social media and online resources.”

With Love from the Cupboard is a baked-to-order dessert purveyor. The “Recreate-A-Recipe” service allows clients to submit a family recipe to be tailor-made to their taste and dietary needs while safeguarding family secrets.

Watt U Control will make BluStrip, a home automation project.

“This is very exciting for the town,” First Selectman Mike Tetreau said. “The No. 1 issue in our economy is jobs. This is literally an incubator that helps generate jobs, it’s an entrepreneurial idea from the Klebans, to help the local economy to help entrepreneurs. It’s great that an entrepreneur is helping entrepreneurs generate jobs, which is the No.  1 thing we need in our economy. I’m thrilled that Fairfield is a part of it.”

Organizers and leaders hope the impact is felt around the state.

“This is an exciting event and we continue to have exciting events at the Fairfield University bookstore,” state Sen. John McKinney said. “The partnership between the university, the town and the Klebans’ private industry is really what made this happen. It’s exciting that incubators to help new entrepreneurs are important to our state’s economy and it’s also important to have that partnership with your educational institutions and government. This is really a perfect example of what we’re trying to do to grow our economy in Connecticut.”

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