More tech startups gravitating to Vermont

Vermont attracts tech companies.
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 8:24 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - High-tech companies looking to get off the ground are increasingly using Vermont as the launching pad.

What does a geo-based social media app, a mobile amazon Alexa device creator, and an mRNA manufacturing company all have in common -- Vermont is their home. A growing number of founders of new companies either recently moved or started their company in the Green Mountain State.

“So many people don’t know how great it is, so that made it a perfect spot for an app like this,” said Rosalie Phillip, the founder of the Hawp App.

The social media app may connect people from all over, but Phillip says the roots are in Burlington.

“So many people have been so supportive. So many people want to help in any way they can,” Phillip said.

Meanwhile, Vernal Biosciences, an mRNA manufacturing company, moved from Boston during the pandemic.

“Over time, the business started to come together in this location,” said Christian Cobaugh, the company’s founder and CEO.

Cobaugh says he found investors, lab space, talent, and some budding biotech businesses in Vermont to work with. That, combined with the love of the state, meant a recipe for success.

“We’re really aligned with our staff around values associated with Vermont that are somewhat unique,” Cobaugh said.

Those values include a love of the outdoors and family. Both companies plan to stay here and grow.

Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies President David Bradbury says the list of new startups is impressive.

“We have seen record numbers of people seeking support and advice from us,” he said.

In 2021, there were 289 founders and entrepreneurs, which was up 40% over 2020.

“Trends that had started pre-COVID only accelerated,” Bradbury said.

Bradbury says Vermont is marketing itself just by being Vermont.

“We have got green grass and water and that has started a trend toward places like Vermont. The second is sort of urban exodus, and the third is social and political unrest,” said Bradbury.

He says thanks to COVID and remote work, the Green Mountain State is top of the mind for many. VCET ran a small survey through their startup collective and coworking list and found that out of the 70 responses, 75% moved during the pandemic and 23% started businesses.

One of the migrants is Chandler Murch, the CEO of TalkGo Inc, which is working on an Alexa device integrated into a pop socket for your phone.

“We just kept coming back to properties in Vermont,” said Murch.

He lives in Northfield and can work remotely with his team spread all over the country. But he’s also thinking about the community that welcomed him in too.

“But also embrace the communities, embrace the universities,” said Murch.

“My preference on what we can do better here is talk and recognize the folks that are creating wealth and income opportunities across Vermont,” said Bradbury.

Business owners say Vermont could improve on access to broadband and partnerships with colleges.

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