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 Raph Thomas of LintCard LLC.
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
My name is Raph Thomas, and I’m the proud founder of LintCard LLC. What you might not know about me is that I have a consulting background and am a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. I have always had a passion for fixing things and understanding how things work. For me, LintCard started off as just a hobby to understand how small businesses work and learn how to successfully take an idea from prototype to market with very little investment and risk. However, what I quickly realized is I could use my business as a platform to create opportunities that could really help people – to me that felt special.
2. Why did you decide to be based in Hartford?
Hartford is a great city that has built a very strong entrepreneurial community through organizations like reSET; it is also home to multiple contract manufacturers that could meet my unique product development and production needs. I also feel a sense of pride in helping to create jobs and opportunities for growth in my local community. I can proudly say LintCards are 100% MADE IN CONNECTICUT!
3. How do you think your work has impacted the community and vice versa?
LintCard has helped multiple Connecticut-based businesses such as Happy Cat Hotel and the CT Bar Association stand out by offering customers a distinctive and engaging brand experience through personalized LintCards, but beyond that I feel LintCard serves as a symbol of what can be achieved with the support of a great community, perseverance to overcome adversity and a great idea.
4. What words of wisdom would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who may be hesitant to take the plunge into entrepreneurship?
Actions prove who someone is; words prove who they want to be. The understanding and internalization of that simple truth is what separates successful entrepreneurs from brilliant people who always seem to have their great ideas “stolen” by someone that decided to take action. Take action and fail fast. It will get easier over time and you only need one great idea to change your life for the better.
5. What’s it like being an entrepreneur in Hartford? What are the benefits, but also what are the difficulties and challenges?
The reSET network is a small, close-knit community that always has events, programs, and opportunities to spur growth for me both personally and professionally. For example, the reSET accelerator really helped transform my startup into a growth company within 12 months. One of the difficulties in Hartford is finding grant financing for great innovative product ideas that are low tech, and not a hot new emerging technology or trend. Sometimes the simplest most practical ideas make great businesses.
6. What’s your vision for your business and personal development over the next five years?
In the next few years, I see LintCard as the premier product for creative brand advertising nationally, and an organization recognized as a platform for providing students the opportunity to learn how to become real entrepreneurs in a controlled learning environment. I want to provide the “leaders of tomorrow” experiences and opportunities that I wish I had when I was younger. Hopefully by creating pathways for others, I will help make the world a better place.
7. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with the reSET and HYPE communities?
Thank you all for your help and support getting LintCard off the ground! If you are in need of a dynamite stocking stuffer or event gift use discount code HART10 to receive 10% of entire order until the end of this year!