Founder and CEO Meredith Messenger launched her insurance and professional services agency in June 2021. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Meredith about building a startup in Hartford.

NAN PRICE: Why Hartford?

MEREDITH MESSENGER: I have an emotional connection to Hartford. When I was growing up, my parents worked at Phoenix and Travelers. I spent a lot of time downtown and it holds a special place in my heart.

As an adult, when I came back to work at Travelers, I was based downtown. Before COVID-19, it was starting to become very vibrant. The startup and entrepreneurial space was really exciting here, especially being based at a 20 Church Street, where there are a ton of startups. That energy and enthusiasm within that ecosystem of entrepreneurs and startups is really valuable. It’s a special place to be. You tap into all the things that are available—the energy, the resources, the education.

We’re hoping we can bounce back from COVID-19, return to that vibrancy, and keep pushing forward in terms of Hartford being the center for small business and startups. As an agency, we’re focused on supporting small businesses and startups. So, there’s a nice connection there.

NAN Any learning lessons to share?

MEREDITH: I’m learning something every single day. My biggest piece of advice is to get out of the comparison trap because it’s easy to look at other business owners and think: It seems like I should be as successful as them or I should be doing the same things.

A lot of people don’t realize that many of us have been working on building our dreams for many years. So, comparing yourself to someone else, can be really dangerous. From the outside, you don’t know how much effort, time, or resources someone has already put in.

My other tip is collaboration over competition. For instance, years ago, I would’ve looked at the Chamber of Commerce and thought: There are already insurance agents, they have what they need, so there’s no reason for me to join. But the truth is, I do something completely different than what anybody else does. I bring something else to the table and there’s enough opportunity for all of us because we’re all different. So, getting the right mindset around abundance and knowing that you have a place is really important.

Read the entire interview at Innovation Destination Hartford