Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.
  • Key Takeaways From The WCBS Small Business Breakfast

    STAMFORD, Conn. (WCBS 880) — For the first time in years, some Connecticut business owners revealed to Joe Connolly at the WCBS Small Business Breakfast that they see signs that growth is slowing. As a result, hiring skilled employees has become even more important in a tight labor market because employees are the representatives of your brand.

    Many business owners remain optimistic, but retailers face challenges as Amazon is the one-stop shop for consumers. Several owners emphasized their relationship with their local communities and the positive influence they have while helping those in need, as a valued proposition to consumers who lean towards the convenience of shopping on Amazon.

    Dori DeCarlo, founder of, beamed with pride over the quality of her products. “Cheap is expensive,” said DeCarlo, a mom who started designing a line of clear bags and backpacks to deal with security issues at schools, offices, airports, public venues and sports arenas.

    We are live with Joe Connolly at the WCBS Small Business Breakfast in Stamford! #WCBSBizBreakfast

    Posted by WCBS Newsradio 880 on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

    Gov. Ned Lamont (D-CT) spoke at the beginning of the Small Business Breakfast program, which was held at the Stamford Hilton. The newly-elected governor touted the state’s history of innovation and promised to enact policies that will “champion small businesses.”

    Lamont’s own entrepreneurial background goes back to his cable television days. After graduating from Harvard and Yale, he worked for Cablevision when the cable network entered Connecticut. One day he got a tip from someone at MTV: Trek up to Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire because they’re very unhappy with their cable system. The college told Lamont its students were paying high prices and the cable system wasn’t delivering what it wanted: educational and international programming.

    So, Lamont developed a network, Campus Televideo, to distribute cable TV from satellites to the college dorms. It expanded to over 100 colleges by 2006, including the University of Hartford.

    “I started a business about 40 years ago and I remember that first check coming in, I remember at the end of the month when you had a little bit left over you knew what that meant,” Lamont said. “I remember the frustrations but I really remember the joy of being my own boss and watching a company happen and we need a lot more of that in the state of Connecticut.”

    A group of expert panelists comprised of Nolan Farris, Senior Vice President for Sales at Indeed; Sam Gimbel, co-founder and CPO of Clark Inc.Jarrett McGovern, Co-Founder of RISE Brewing Co.; and Cordy Gould Kelly, Co-Founder of Kelly’s Four Plus, then shared their experiences about keeping your business fresh and growing your brand.

    McGovern and Kelly were asked how they got their products to go mainstream.

    McGovern started his cold brew coffee brand a few years ago out of an East Village apartment and now has several high-end clients.

    “What we first started doing was we self distributed. We built up our own client list… we built up a list of about 100 clients and the distributors started calling us,” McGovern said. “We didn’t wait for the time to be right, we didn’t wait for the distributor to call us, we just attacked and started selling the products.”

    Kelly started her granola business in her New Canaan kitchen. The product was hit among her son’s rowing students and their parents so that’s when they decided to take it to the next level. After selling at a few farmers markets, they soon found themselves on store shelves.

    “We literally built this market by market and then Whole Foods at the time you could go in and solicit at Whole Foods directly. Greenwich took us in, then Darien and from there we went regional with them and we’re in two different regions,” Kelly said. “It’s been a long, laborious process obviously but we work with three or four distributors now also who get us into the 350 markets we’re in currently.”

    Among nearly 300 small and mid-size business owners in attendance were a group of students from Blind Brook High School in Rye with an interest in business. After the 90-minute business pow-wow, they told Connolly what they gleaned from the event and the business news veteran gave them valuable advice as they pursue their career goals.

    At the Small Business Breakfast, Connolly announced that WCBS Newsradio 880 will kick-off the NXT Events Media Group’s BRANDXCELERATOR with the next WCBS Business Breakfast on June 12 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

    The event will focus on transcending your company’s brand and vision to generate rapid growth. You can register for our next premiere business event, with promo code 880, HERE.​

    Neil A. Carousso is the producer of the WCBS Small Business Spotlight and Small Business Breakfast programs with Joe Connolly. 

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