HARTFORD - U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced on Friday that Collab, a startup located in New Haven, is this month’s “Murphy’s Innovator of the Month.” Collab supports early-stage entrepreneurs based in Connecticut by providing them with capital, mentorship, and other resources. Co-directors Margaret Lee and Caroline Smith established Collab as an event series where New Haven students, leaders, and entrepreneurs came together to solve problems in Connecticut communities. Lee and Smith recognized a lack of available resources for entrepreneurs in New Haven as a result of the event series, and now offer programs to help entrepreneurs address the financial, psychological, and logistical barriers to entrepreneurship in New Haven.

Collab offers an Incubator Program, which provides a workshop series, pre-seed funding, free co-working space, pro bono legal and accounting services, and pitching opportunities to for-profit, non-profit, and hybrid ventures. In addition to professional support, Collab provides entrepreneurs with childcare, transportation, and interpretation/translation services. To date, Collab has incubated seven different ventures created by members of the New Haven community. Of those seven, six are women-led, six are led by people-of-color, and five are led by women-of-color.

Murphy said, “Connecticut residents are full of brilliant ideas, but often lack the funding and exposure they need to bring those ideas to life. That’s where Collab comes in – since just last year, they’ve helped diverse entrepreneurs in the food, STEM, maternity, and arts fields get their businesses off the ground. I’m sure many other New Haven-area entrepreneurs will benefit from Collab’s work in the years to come.”

Margaret Lee and Caroline Smith, co-directors of Collab, said, “We believe individual empowerment leads to community change. If our communities had more individuals that were leading organizations and their own personal lives from their hearts — from places of joy and strength, not fear — we would be more a resilient city and state. Therefore, we also believe incubators that focus on the individual entrepreneur, not just their idea or venture, will lead to more successful and joy-filled individuals, ventures, and communities. We believe that this approach will lead to economic development that is wider, deeper, and truer.”

Murphy believes entrepreneurship and innovation are building blocks for a strong economy. In the U.S. Senate, he has introduced two bipartisan pieces of legislation to incentivize angel investors to put more money into startup companies – the Angel Tax Credit Act and the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act. Last month, Murphy’s HALOS Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Startup companies create an average of 2 million jobs each year.