Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Burlington, VT

Burlington, VT

Burlington’s innovative spirit was on full display in 2015, when Burlington became USA’s first city to run exclusively on renewable energy.

Burlington, VT, just 50 miles south of the Canadian border, is the state’s most populous city. The city’s innovative spirit was on full display in 2015, when Burlington became the country’s first city to run exclusively on renewable energy. That spirit continues to this day, with Burlington frequently appearing in entrepreneurial rankings.

An article published by 24/7 Wall St. in 2017 listed the Burlington-South Burlington area eighth on its list of the 25 most innovative cities in the United States. Similarly, in 2018, Verizon ranked the same area as the third-most innovative metropolitan area in the country. In 2019, WalletHub ranked both cities on their list of the best cities for Hispanic entrepreneurs. While Burlington itself was at 162, South Burlington was 30th in the country. Finally, Burlington appeared on the same website’s 2019 rankings of the best small cities to start a business. It was only 730th on the list; however, it did finish 209th overall in the “Access to Resources” category, suggesting a high level of resources relative to the small size of the city.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Burlington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The eWomen Network of Greater Burlington hosts regular events to support women entrepreneurs in the city and the surrounding area.

While not explicitly an entrepreneurship group, Vermont Coders Connection is an opportunity for coders and software developers in the area to network with businesses and hone their skills.

Healthcare innovators in the area can network with one another and enhance their knowledge through the Vermont Healthcare Innovators group.

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies hosts numerous events to support tech innovation, including some specifically for female founders.

The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce hosts a calendar of business and entrepreneurship events in and around the state of Vermont.

The Vermont Technology Alliance has a list of technology events in the city, extending beyond the state of Vermont into the surrounding areas.

 

Startup Competitions:

Students at Champlain College can participate in the school’s Elevator Pitch Competition. Students deliver a 90-second pitch for the chance to win one of three $500 first prizes.

FreshTracks Road Pitch is an event in which a group of entrepreneur motorcyclists ride across the state acting as judges for local pitch competitions.

Students at colleges in the state of Vermont can compete in the LaunchVT Collegiate pitch competition for thousands in cash prizes.

The University of Vermont’s Grossman School of Business hosts pitch competitions and case competitions to help support entrepreneurial students.

 

Co-working Spaces:

Blank Space offers a cheaper alternative for co-working spaces and places an emphasis on collaboration with its members.

BTV Works is a co-working space specifically aimed at supporting entrepreneurship that provides members with 24/7 access.

Located in Burlington’s Lakeside district just off the shores of Lake Champlain, Hula offers 150,000 square feet of co-working and office space.

Office Squared, located on Burlington’s Main Street, is a co-working space that offers private offices, conference rooms for rent and networking opportunities.

In addition to providing co-working space, conference room and event space for rent, Study Hall is a social club that hosts regular social events for its members.

 

Makerspaces:

Generator hosts regular classes and programs to support entrepreneurs and makers in the Burlington area, while also providing tools and resources.

Laboratory B is a hackerspace in Burlington that provides the community with access to electronics, with membership costs on a sliding, pay-what-you-can scale starting at $30.

Students and faculty at the University of Vermont have access to the UVM FabLab, which provides rapid-prototyping tools and equipment.

 

Incubators:

The Build Your Own Business (BYOBiz) program is an opportunity for students at Champlain College to develop and make contacts for their business.

Among the many programs run by LaunchVT are JUMP/START and REACT, a pair of programs that support early-stage entrepreneurship in the area.

The Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies offers co-working space and other services to help support technology startups in the Burlington area and around the state of Vermont.

Based in Randolph, the Vermont Small Business Development Center has advisors in every county and runs programs to support entrepreneurship throughout the state.

 

Accelerators:

Based in the capital of Montpelier, Accel-VT runs accelerator programs with multiple focuses. The Summer 2019 cohort focused on energy-based startups.

The primary program of LaunchVT is an eight-week business accelerator program that provides its members with $35,000 in cash and over $100,000 worth of services.

Located by the Burlington International Airport, Vermont Small Business Accelerators aim to help grow area small businesses and startups.

 

Colleges/Universities:

In addition to an elevator pitch competition and a student incubator, Champlain College offers its students a minor in entrepreneurship.

Just down the road in Colchester, Saint Michael’s College’s business administration program places an emphasis on management.

The University of Vermont organizes a wide variety of entrepreneurial resources both inside and outside of the classroom for its students.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

Located just outside of Burlington in Shelburne, FreshTracks is a venture capital firm that invests primarily in the state of Vermont as well as neighboring counties in other states.

Based in Burlington, North Country Angels is a group that invests in seed- and early-stage companies throughout New England.

A program of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, the Vermont Seed Capital Fund invests in early-stage technology startups around the state.

Vermont Works is an investment firm that aims to support Vermont’s business environment as a whole by helping startups grow through investment and advising.

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce offers a newsletter covering business news, events, opportunities and more.

In addition to the magazine itself and news published on the website, Vermont Business Magazine offers several newsletters with different focuses.

Among the many newsletters offered by VTDigger are one focused on business news and one on health care.

 

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Burlington, VT not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

New York, NY, Syracuse, NY, Hartford, CT


Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at Funding$age where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.