The Hartford Chamber of Commerce recently spoke with Neelu Warikoo, Owner of FASTSIGNS® of Hartford, to find out more about the franchise’s new Hartford location.

When and why did you start your business?

NEELU WARIKOO: I had worked at United Technologies Corporation for more than 12 years and decided to embrace my entrepreneurial drive. My husband Sandeep and I always wanted to do something of our own. Sandeep is my business partner, but he’s not involved in day-to-day operations.

We did a lot of research and decided on the franchise model. There are some set guidelines to work with, great people and network support, and the business model has a proven success record. FASTSIGNS was a perfect match. We opened for business October 2018.

Why Hartford?

NEELU: Hartford is a very welcoming place to do business. People are very helpful, open, and always eager to reach out and work with local, small businesses.

Hartford is home for us—we’ve lived in Greater Hartford for the past 16 years and frequently visit Hartford for meetings, shows, dining, and entertainment. We’re looking forward to building our new venture along with our own community, friends, and family.

Have you been involved with local small business resources?

NEELU: We joined the MetroHartford Alliance and the Business for Downtown Hartford earlier this year. FASTSIGNS of Hartford has already attended many Alliance events, including State of the City: A Conversation with Mayor Luke Bronin, A Conversation with Governor Ned Lamon, and Breakfast with the Hartford Yard Goats.

I attend all the monthly Business for Downtown Hartford meetings and recently have been inducted as a Board member—which is a great honor.

In November 2019, we hosted a Grand Opening event with a ribbon cutting, which was well attended by local business owners, as well as supportive friends and family members. We were grateful to have Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and FASTSIGNS International, Inc. CEO Catherine Monson there to celebrate with us.

Where do you see the future for Hartford?

NEELU: Over the last few years, Hartford Downtown has been experiencing strong growth. Several exciting projects are coming our way in and around Hartford downtown. The UConn campus in Hartford has definitely brought in a lot of energy and freshness and there are a lot of new businesses and accelerators, like MakerspaceCT, the Hartford InsurTech Hub, and the STANLEY+Techstars Accelerator. Many new apartment buildings and restaurants have come up, too, which signals a lot of positive energy and growth in the Hartford area.

What’s next?

NEELU: Our team is looking forward to growing stronger in 2019 and actively working toward having a strong brand presence in the local community. I have to give a big shout out to our team, as I believe you’re only as good as the team you work with.

As far as our future, we’re growing, and we plan to make it FASTSIGNS a well-known brand and franchise in the Hartford area.