First Chair: March 2024


March 2024

Welcome back to First Chair : Your rundown on Vermont’s startup scene brought to you by your friends at VCET. Today’s gems:


💎Female Founders: B Corps – Join the Waitlist

💎Cannatrol & Fluency named Inc 500 Northeast

💎Big partnership announcements from PortCo’s

💎A spotlight on Lost Lantern

💎Students are Vermont’s Innovation Superpower

Join the waitlist

If you didn’t get a ticket, not to worry! The Media Factory films every event.

Did you miss Female Founders: Authors back in January? We got you

Female Founder: Authors

Looking for community? Connection? Coworking?

VCET offers flex memberships for just $150/month in downtown Burlington. Fixed desks are available for teams and individuals as well. Did we mention Bagel Wednesdays? Ping Pong Thursdays? Brio Coffee? Unlimited conference room and phone booth access? Yep!

Apply to cowork today!

Congratulations to VT Dry & Cure Technologies (aka Cannatrol) and Fluency for being named among the Inc 500 Northeast! Canntrol is ranked 29th with 530% 3 year growth, and Fluency is ranked 58th with 321% 3 year growth.


🩷 And more congratulations are in order: VT Dry & Cure Technologies (aka Cannatrol), Fluency, and OhMD for being voted among Vermont’s Best Places to Work! We’re not surprised, but we are hyped.


GPMS and Airbus announce new HUMS partnership. According to vp of sales at GPMS, Todd Powers, “For many Airbus operators, previously there weren’t any solutions available to meet those requirements. With this agreement, customers benefit from Foresight MX’s affordable and user-friendly interface and gain optional access to the OEM support and recommendations that they demand.”


🤝 AutoPylot announced integration and partnership for commercial drone mission  insurance as part of flight planning and mission operations. “This partnership between Stere and AutoPylot, with insurance primarily underwritten by Allianz Commercial, underscores the potential of technology to redefine industry standards and improve the safety and efficiency of drone operations.” Read more about the partnership.


NOMAD announces the PATHFINDER mobile storage unit. “PATHFINDER, is a 200 kW/220 kWh system that brings unrivaled flexibility and application opportunities in the transportable power sector.” Check it out.


🥃 Lost Lantern Whiskey wins again! FLAME took home Best American Blended Malt at the 2024 World Whiskies Awards. The blend aims to capture the essence of “sitting around a bright, hot fire on a very dark and very cold night.” Intrigued? Visit their Vergennes tasting room open Fridays and Saturdays.

Prefer to listen to stories? Check out our latest Start Here episodes

and don’t forget to follow, rate, review, and subscribe!

Students are Vermont’s Innovation Superpower


Curious, intelligent, fearless, and eager to learn, college students embody the most important qualities of successful entrepreneurs. They are the best part of my job, giving both hope for the future and inspiration for the work at hand.


Naila, Logan, Taylor, Nikki, Mohamed, Ania, Malick, Blaise, Michelle, Farid, Lucy, Tucker, Walter, Isabella, and Jake are among the hundreds whom we have taught, mentored, or heard pitch their startup. They are a forever part of the VCET orbit. They are venture capitalists, technology and social enterprise founders, heart surgeons, teachers, executives, housing entrepreneurs, innovation leaders, artisans, and more.


Vermont’s demographic challenges can, in part, be addressed by retaining students who are currently on campuses, in apprenticeships, and working paid summer internships. On the whole, this generation of students is more prepared, diverse, intelligent, empathetic, and motivated than ever before. But they also need business advice, career opportunities, and mentorship as they confront an uncertain world. This is our chance! To meet them right where they are and help them see a career path here in Vermont for today or someday down the line.


Student careers and journeys after graduation are varied, highly mobile, and amazing to see in action. We can invest in students by:

  • accepting (or initiating) casual coffee meetings
  • attending student club panels and events
  • proactively offering tours of our workplaces
  • jumping on Zoom to answer questions and offer advice
  • creating paid, summer internships on Handshake
  • accepting LinkedIn invitations and genuinely engaging
  • making an angel investment in their startup


And here’s an idea: What about creating a statewide Open Employer Day, much like Open Studio weekend or the Maple Open House, but for high schoolers and college students to visit employers? As the parent of two college students, I’m amazed by how much they learn in the classroom, and also what they don’t yet know. As employers, we can help students bridge the gap between academia and the working world and open their eyes to new kinds of inspiration and networks.


The connections and trust built today will pay back 10x over time. That’s how Vermont wins. It is a gratifying truth that most former students pay it back when asked to help support today’s student entrepreneurs. Why? They seem to do it simply for Vermont and because, as alumni, they recall that someone, who did not need to, gave them help along their journey. Vermont’s ability as a community to build and embrace this next generation of entrepreneurs and workforce is our superpower. Time to flex it.



For Students From Day 1:  VCET was founded on a University campus with a Board that included four presidents from different higher education institutions. Developing programs with VCET partners and providing 1:1 advice for students is hard coded in our DNA. We walk the walk daily. Students get free business & career advice, free coworking space for their own startups, student innovation groups or as an intern at a private company too (some limits apply). This is for young people here in Vermont attending school or for Vermonters who are going to schools out of state as well. So far at VCET, there have been 62 students who have worked as Summer Associates, Interns and Fellows. Our next two Venture Associates start here at VCET in a few short weeks.

Growing high-paying jobs in the state of Vermont is central to VCET’s purpose. Check out these sweet gigs with some of our portfolio companies.

Are you enjoying First Chair?

Do you have a (kindly worded) suggestion for how to make it better?

I’m all ears!

Special thanks to our strategic partners Senator Patrick Leahy, the University of Vermont, Middlebury College, Consolidated Communications, the Vermont Technology Council, the State of Vermont, M&T Bank, HUD, & SBA.

Check out VCET

Today’s newsletter was brought to you by Sam.



Read the Article