Entrepreneurial Arc panel at WCSU to feature local business pioneers
Panel discussion on Nov. 15 includes entrepreneurs in theatre, animation and chocolates

DANBURY, CONN. — Three local entrepreneurs whose innovative business ventures span the gamut from animation filmmaking and improvisational theatre to toy invention and designer chocolates will share their experiences in a panel discussion on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, at Western Connecticut State University.

The forum, presented by the WCSU Ancell School of Business as part of the continuing Entrepreneurial Arc series, will be at 6 p.m. in Room 218 of the Westside Classroom Building on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The panel will feature Anthony DePoto, a professional actor, playwright, educator and owner of innerAct Theatre LLC; Jhonny Parks, a graphic designer and producer of stop-motion animation films; and Michael Glenn Sauvageau, cofounder of TryOut Toys Entertainment and most recently Noteworthy Chocolates of Bethel. Admission will be free and the public is invited.

Dr. Pauline Assenza, WCSU associate professor of management and coordinator of the Entrepreneurial Arc forums, observed that the series seeks to share the experiences of small business pioneers in the local community who can serve as role models for future entrepreneurs to emulate. “Opportunities are everywhere, passion is infectious, and network connections are everything,” she said. “These three individuals illustrate this very well.”

DePoto, a Danbury native and adjunct professor of theatre arts at WCSU, founded the innerAct Theatre company to bring education in theatre and improvisation performance to the community through classes at schools, businesses and other institutions, with emphasis on team-building and ensemble exercises that inspire confidence and strengthen interpersonal communication skills. Recipient of a B.A. in Theatre Performance at Western in 2009 and M.F.A. in Acting at Minnesota State University at Mankato in 2012, DePoto has performed in numerous stage and television productions and worked in the education departments of Hartford Stage, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven.

Parks, a Stamford native who now resides in Bethel, has pursued a freelance career in graphic design during the past decade, specializing in vector art such as logos, signage and vinyl decals as well as production of customized photo images. Recipient of an associate degree from Gibbs College in Norwalk in 2008, Parks has drawn inspiration from his childhood play with puppets and action figures to learn the art of stop-motion animation, from scriptwriting and construction of animation figures to creation of storyboards for action, use of stop-motion software in filming, and collaboration with musicians and voice talent. He has completed successful crowd-funding projects to finance the 2016 film “Wound Up,” nominated for Best Concept for a film short at the 2016 Brightside Tavern Film Festival in New Jersey, and his current film in production, “What the Mouse?”

Sauvageau and his wife Jennifer also used crowd funding as the vehicle to raise the startup capital required for launch this year of their Bethel-based business Noteworthy Chocolates, which sells premium fair-trade chocolates that may be ordered with personalized message engravings. After graduating from WCSU in 1994 with a B.A. in Communication and Theatre Arts, Sauvageau began his professional career as founder of Great Expectations Lawn Services. With his wife Jennifer, he later founded TryOut Toys Entertainment and embarked on a 12-year odyssey traveling more than 300,000 miles to share toy inventions and a passion for play through teaching and performance at Renaissance fairs, music festivals and community events across the country. Their latest venture at Noteworthy Chocolates was launched with support from the Danbury Innovation Center.       

In addition to the Ancell School, sponsors for the forum include the Entrepreneurship, Research, Innovation and Creativity Center at WCSU, the Macricostas Entrepreneurial Endowment, the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce and the Danbury Hackerspace.

 

 

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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