Connecticut's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: The Role of Our State


FEBRUARY 23, 2022
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EST


Connecticut’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: The Role of Our State

Wednesday, February 23
11:00 a.m. to Noon EST

The Connecticut Entrepreneurs Forum’s inaugural event will be a four-part series examining different aspects of Connecticut’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and how they work together to support our vibrant and growing startup community. We’re going to look at the key players in the current startup landscapes and ask them to share their knowledge and expertise. You’ll learn how you can access a broad support system of organizations and resources to help you grow your businesses.

Session # 1 – The Role of Our State

State government plays an important part in supporting entrepreneurship in Connecticut. The state is responsible for putting in place an infrastructure that assists in startup creation and growth–but how does policy get translated into concrete initiatives that directly benefit entrepreneurs? How can you take advantage of grants, tax incentives, technology incubators, and other Connecticut entrepreneurship programs? To help you understand the state’s role in our entrepreneurial ecosystem, we’ve lined up a panel of experts to share their insights and answer your questions.


11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EST


This is a virtual event



Onyka Obiocha

Executive Director, CTNext

Onyeka Obiocha was named Executive Director of CTNext in January 2022. He is responsible for managing the organization’s full array of strategic economic development programs focused on fostering entrepreneurship, startup and growth-stage businesses while cultivating a robust innovation ecosystem on behalf of the State of Connecticut.
Prior to assuming his role at CTNext, Onyeka was the Managing Director of the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (Tsai CITY), where he deployed capital, developed programming and attracted resources to help students launch and scale for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He also recently served as the Director of Integrated Capitals and Learning at the Heron Foundation and was responsible for implementing practices to embed Heron’s emerging principles into the communities, investments and operational strategies of the organization.
Over the course of his entrepreneurial career, Onyeka has taken on various roles, from designing a corporate social responsibility program for a food startup in Hartford to starting Sharelogical, an e-commerce platform empowering consumers to make charitable donations by leveraging affiliate marketing. Most notable was his time as co-founder and COO of A Happy Life, a coffee roasting company and coffee shop with the mission to create a happier world for all. Onyeka’s newest venture includes co-founding Breakfast Lunch & Dinner, a startup studio that starts, supports and scales community ventures.
Onyeka holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Connecticut and lives in New Haven.



David Noble

UConn Associate Professor In-Residence and Director of the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

David was appointed the inaugural Director of the Werth Institute in January 2018, and previously he served as the co-director of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Consortium and the Xcite: Women in Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship Conference. As a faculty member in the School of Business, he teaches courses on technology innovation and entrepreneurship. David is an active mentor at UConn, and has recently founded Zatoichi Co., a blockchain based startup.

Prior to UConn, David was a securities and corporate finance attorney, with experience representing startups from formation through the IPO process. He has extensive non-profit board experience. He holds a Ph.D. in Management from the University of Alabama, a J.D. from the University of Miami, an M.B.A. from Elon University, and a B.S. in Political Science from Northeastern University.




Antonio Roberto

Managing Director, Strategic Investments,
Connecticut Innovations

Antonio Roberto is responsible for strategic projects and investments, and the coordination of projects with other governmental stakeholders at Connecticut Innovations.

As the former executive director of the Connecticut Development Authority (CDA), Tony has extensive experience managing economic development projects and utilizing lending programs.

Tony also has experience in arena management and managed operations for the Hartford XL Center. During his tenure, Tony negotiated numerous complex transactions related to both management of the XL Center and economic development projects.

He has also held positions in the banking and manufacturing industries.




John SchnyderJohn Schnyder

Director of Process Improvement, Organization Ink

John Schnyder has worked with startups in technical and operations positions, and for companies across a number of industries including software, computer hardware, healthcare, education, and non-profits. He uses this experience to advise small companies on their strategy and operations.

John has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. He received an MBA in Finance and Management from NYU’s Stern School of Business.


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