This blog series, posted in partnership between HYPE and reSET, offers a platform to showcase the commitment that Hartford entrepreneurs have for their work and this city. It examines how entrepreneurs have chosen their work, and provides examples of the ways in which they are having an impact in Hartford. In this edition, we interviewed Alice Turner of URISE, LLC.
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a former corporate training executive for Travelers and Cigna. In 2010, I completed a nonprofit leadership program called “Encore Hartford” that helped me transition from the corporate sector to the nonprofit sector. Now, I’m the Founder and CEO of URISE, a start-up technology-focused social enterprise.
2. Why did you decide to be based in Hartford?
I have strong personal ties to Hartford. I’ve worked, lived and still worship in Hartford’s North End. I was stunned to learn that North Hartford is one of the poorest capital cities in America. Even more, I’m deeply troubled by the notion that Hartford students rank among the lowest performing students by most national standards.
3. How do you think your work has impacted the community and vice versa?
I love business and technology, so I wanted to create an empowering way for students to gain skills and experience by solving a pressing social issue in our community through technology. Through a contextualized learning model, students create, design and develop technology solutions that can be launched, commercialized and sold. More importantly, they’re exposed to careers in business and technology that they never dreamed were within their reach.
4. What words of wisdom would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who may be hesitant to take the plunge into entrepreneurship?
I learned early on that “success is the ability to go from failure to failure with the same enthusiasm.” I’ve hit many roadblocks along the way. But with the support of coaches and mentors, I remained positive, learned my lessons and made adjustments… It’s all a part of the journey.
5. What’s it like being an entrepreneur in Hartford? What are the benefits, but also what are the difficulties and challenges?
I love working in Hartford. It’s centrally located, accessible and culturally diverse. I especially appreciate the ability to meet and connect with partners, resources and organizations that also position urban youth for success in a career and in their communities. Despite the fact that Hartford has been home to innovative ideas in many sectors, innovative ideas in education and workforce development seem to be rare here. I want to change that.
6. What’s your vision for your business and personal development over the next five years?
I’m working to create a community technology and enterprise center in Northeast Hartford’s “Promise Zone.” As a for-profit social enterprise, the Center would be the only community incubator and training center focused on engaging and empowering underrepresented populations through technology and entrepreneurship, especially urban youth.
7. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the reSET and HYPE communities?
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in reSET”s Impact Accelerator in 2015. With the support of the program’s coaches and mentors, I was able to refine my concept and get better positioned for success.
The following are links for URISE, LLC. online: