Stefano Pacifico founded Epistemic AI — a proprietary mapping technology that helps discover relationships between genes, diseases, pathways, drugs and biological functions — 5 years ago.
It was based in Westport — the town he’d lived in already for a couple of years — but his employees worked remotely.
Back then, that was a novel concept.
Today, it’s the way much of America — particularly tech companies like his — operate.
Now Pacifico wants more startups — many more — to do it too.
And with their headquarters right here in Westport.
He understands the attraction of a New York or Boston for a tech founder. But — based on his own experience — he knows the attraction of a town with amenities like great schools, a wonderful library, plenty of recreation and restaurants, and much more.
He pitched the idea — making Westport a special, suburban center of an ecosystem of tech people and investors — to Jen Tooker.
The 1st Selectwoman — who often calls our town “the best place to live, work and play” — was all in.
The result: a public/private partnership called “Startup Westport.”
Among the others working on the project: Dan Bikel, Sam Handel, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, Gioel Molinari, Jay Norris, Peter Propp and Cliff Sirlin.
A kickoff event is this Thursday (March 16, 6 p.m.). The site is — appropriately — the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum, itself a hub of creativity and innovation.
Local infotech and biotech entrepreneurs — and anyone else interested — is invited. The program includes an introduction to the “Startup Westport” concept, and a 2023 tech business outlook by Westporter Matt Gorin, co-founder and general partner at Contour Ventures. Tooker will speak briefly.
Attendees will have a chance to meet other tech entrepreneurs, and find out what they’re doing here.
Pacifico notes that Startup Westport is not an investment vehicle, incubator or fund.
It’s also not a vehicle to learn about entrepreneurship. There are plenty of resources for that online — and at the Library.
And it’s not yet a “formal entity.”
What Startup Westport is, he says, is “a citizen-led organization to promote Westport as the most attractive place for start-up companies.”
Pacifico is not sure where the idea will go. That’s part of the reason for Thursday’s session: figuring out next steps.
But — like any good visionary — he’s already thinking ahead.
“My kids are 6, and almost 4,” he says. “They’re just starting in school. But wouldn’t it be phenomenal if, when they get to Staples, they have access to all kinds of tech startups, right here in Westport?
“I didn’t have that. It would have been amazing for me.”
(For more information on Startup Westport’s Thursday launch event, click here. For Startup Westport’s website, click here.)
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Very progressive and innovative. I’ve been an entrepreneur, my whole life as an interior designer. Only worked out of the house for less than. 5 to 6 years of my 45 year year career… it was the saving grace to raising our three children. Time management and discipline and organizational skills is the key. Love this idea for our town.Love living here …. 👍🙏🏼💚🍀❤️
Pros for sure as noted: the attraction of a town with amenities like great schools, a wonderful library, plenty of recreation and restaurants, and much more.
Cons: business unfriendly state having one of the nation’s highest state tax rates.
I deal with small companies & startups frequently, and it’s rare for CT to be recommended as an incubation state for the above cons. These enterprises need cash and quick-acting, business friendly gov’t to succeed and grow. Sadly, CT hasn’t been a player in this area for too long a time.