The Yale Innovation Summit takes place this week, and once again FML is sponsoring the largest gathering of startups and venture capital investors in the state. In addition, on Wednesday, May 18, FML co-founding partner Frank Milone is moderating a panel titled “Enabling Yale Technologies to Drive New Businesses.”
Ahead of the summit, Frank was interviewed by John Henry Smith, host of All Things Considered on WNPR. Listen to the conversation or read the transcript below.
JHS: For Connecticut Public Radio, I’m John Henry Smith. Now, if you’re someone who dreams of pitching your own great business idea to financiers one day, you might want to plunk down $75 for a ticket to attend the Yale Innovation Summit on May 17 and May 18. Here with more is Frank Milone co-founding partner at accounting and advisory firm FML CPAs, as well as a Yale Entrepreneur in Residence. Tell us, Frank, what would a person who’s not at the summit to pitch an idea get from spending 75 bucks to attend?
FM: I think the summit is not only a gathering to hear entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to investors, it’s really a celebration of the importance of entrepreneurialism, and new company development in Connecticut. It really does bring together over 1000 people, venture capital investors, entrepreneurs, those in the ecosystem that are supporting this area and this involvement, and it really just gives people an opportunity to network and get to know each other.
JHS: You know, if you watch Shark Tank, you see people of all different stripes pitching all manner and form of businesses. Do you see that sort of breadth of subject matter of industries of businesses represented at an event like this?
FM: No, it’s really focused on two main areas, John. It’s focused on technology, digital health, and biotechnology.
JHS: So if someone’s plunking down their $75 to watch this, and they have an idea that’s not in biotech or high tech, do you think they’ll get anything out of it?
FM: There’s keynote speakers that you can hear and just learn from. Just being involved in that atmosphere allows you to kind of just take in, what are some of these companies doing to prepare for these pitches? How do they pitch when they’re getting in front of investors? What are they focusing on in their investment pitches? And then you get to network. Those of us that are in attendance, that aren’t maybe necessarily focused on investing in these industry segments, we support a lot of segments that are just not as focused on technology and biotech and digital health. So we can talk to those people in attendance and give them some advice or even make introductions.
JHS: You’re going to have a career expo. What sort of jobs will be up for grabs?
FM: I believe that most of the jobs and the Career Expo are going to focus on more of the science, the engineering, people looking to get involved in in these entrepreneurial companies. It also may allow some of the larger organizations that partner with some of these entrepreneurial companies to demonstrate some of the opportunities that they have.
JHS: One of the issues in this election season coming up will be the business friendliness of Connecticut. What’s the truth? Is Connecticut business friendly or not?
FM: I think it’s a perspective question, right? I don’t think there’s a right and a wrong answer. I think, you know, certain people focus on different elements of what Connecticut has to offer. If you want to focus on certain elements like taxes, and the burden that of Connecticut tax structure, you can easily point to one of those areas and say it’s not, but if you can point to some of the other aspects that have been highlighted by the pandemic, and the quality of life here in Connecticut, the surrounding quality of the education both public education throughout high school and those sorts of organizations, and then the surrounding university structures around here, as well as everything that has to do with the quality of life here in Connecticut, I think you can make a case for it is business friendly. There’s a strong network of companies here, big companies, that are supporting the state of Connecticut in a variety of ways. And there’s also this continuing to grow understanding that you need to start focusing and continuing to focus on starting new companies and those new companies turn into small companies. And a percentage of those small companies turn into gazelles and turn in other terminology that we like to use in this high growth space, and they create job growth. And it’s really important to make sure that there’s a balance of both. The larger companies that we all know by name and recognize here in Connecticut, those are maintainers of jobs. The growth companies that we’re all trying to grow and understand and support, those companies are job growth companies, and you need to have a balance of that and I think Connecticut does a really good job of that.