Entrepreneurs

Dreamers. Makers. Doers.
GET IN TOUCH
#2

on the Opportunity Index (2019)

#4

in the country for number of patents per 1,000 individuals in science & engineering occupations (2018)

78,759

Small Businesses in VT (fewer than 500 employees) (US Small Business Administration, 2020)

19.3%

Percentage of Vermont’s $2.8 billion in total exports generated by small businesses

Your idea could be the next great Vermont success story.

Entrepreneurs in Vermont will find the strong systems of support and technical assistance necessary to succeed in business, plus the work/life balance essential to succeed in life.

Vermont’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has generated household names like Lake Champlain ChocolatesCabot CheeseDarn Tough socks, and Seventh Generation cleaning supplies. These companies all got their starts as small, local businesses that grew with support from Vermont’s business and financial  communities. These “local” businesses are part of Vermont’s larger small business ecosystem, which also includes thousands of independent contractors and one-person businesses like plumbers, lawyers, artists, realtors, and more.

Small business is a huge part of the Vermont economy. Of the 78,759 small businesses in the state (which the U.S. Small Business Administration defines as having fewer than 500 employees), 78% are independent contractors or non-employer businesses, and 19.5% have 1-19 employees. In 2017, Vermont businesses with fewer than 20 employees had 67,711 employees.

This small business based economy is part of what creates the much sought-after Vermont dynamic of small-town life: neighbors working with, buying from, and hiring neighbors. It also lends itself to the kind of entrepreneurial lifestyle desired by many small business owners and innovators, allowing them to achieve a work/life balance that accommodates their dreams and goals as much as their families and commitments.

Innovation thrives in Vermont, and small ideas go big here. What started out as a quest to provide safe and clean spaces for nursing mothers grew into Mamava, a national business that’s also helping to normalize the needs of mothers and babies everywhere. Looking for a way to eliminate plastic in the kitchen, Middlebury’s Bee’s Wrap became a global supplier of a reusable, compostable, safe alternative to plastic wrap. Inntopia started out small in Stowe and grew into the international gold standard for online lodging booking.

Vermont has a healthy ecosystem of coworking and maker spaces  where one-person or small start-ups are often born. The Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) offers entrepreneurs 

a place to start up and scale up by providing mentoring, consulting, and investment—their impact includes more than 35 start-ups and $250M in capital investments. The lakeside campus of Hula is a new addition to the innovation space community, also offering the combination of coaching and funding support for entrepreneurs.

For years Vermont has ranked higher than national averages for the number of patents granted. From 2014-16, Vermont small businesses received over $200M in federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding, 9th in the U.S. The University of Vermont’s UVM Innovations program offers new and existing businesses the research and academic capacity to help commercialize new technologies.

Venture capital investments in Vermont come from a variety of sources, including local investment leaders like Fresh Tracks Capital and Vermont Works. These funding sources, coupled with incentives, financing, and other programs at the state level, can provide the necessary foundation for small businesses to take off. Here is a map of Vermont’s entrepreneurial ecosystem demonstrating the breadth of support entrepreneurs and small businesses will find here:

Looking for Business Assistance?

Our team of business professionals can help guide you and your business to the resources you need to succeed:

Department of Economic Development

Offering a wide spectrum of business assistance with professional staff and a variety of programs and incentives.

Vermont Works

Growth-stage capital and leading-edge, forward-leaning business mentorship for a more vibrant business and entrepreneurial environment. 

LaunchVT

Launch VT  is a community initiative powered by the Lake Champlain Chamber to provide entrepreneurs with an opportunity for exposure, education, and real experience to start their businesses. 

VT Small Business Development Center

No-cost expert assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

Actuator by BRIC

A free digital entrepreneurship program that combines the catalytic energy of tech entrepreneurship with the unparalleled nature of the Vermont lifestyle. 

Instig8VT

Instig8VT is southern Vermont program to foster creative entrepreneurs in developing business concepts and models. 

SCORE Vermont

An all-volunteer organization providing free mentoring to help start or grow your business. 

Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET)

Gain access to startup experts, a robust mentor and investor network, education programs, and three high-impact co-working spaces in Burlington. 

Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC)

Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC) provides capital and expertise to strengthen businesses and communities in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. 

Center for Women & Enterprise in VT

A nonprofit economic empowerment organization whose mission is to strengthen communities and the economy by supporting women to launch and sustain businesses. 

Peak Pitch

A skiing, networking & pitching event for entrepreneurs to deliver their “elevator pitch” to investors while riding the chairlift in the morning, followed by a “pitch off” in the afternoon. 

University of Vermont’s Community Entrepreneurship

University of Vermont’s Community Entrepreneurship program explores the relationship between entrepreneurship, social responsibility, and community development. 

A place to start and grow your business.

Vermont is home to some of the most visionary businesses of our time and attracts worldwide pioneers in technology, manufacturing, and renewable energy.

Entrepreneurs in Vermont