Jonathan Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship

Rhode Island: Where Entrepreneurs Come To Thrive

 

When is a startup no longer a startup? That’s a question that Rhode Island companies like Luca + Danni, Maternova and Lotuff Leather have had to seriously consider over the past year, as explosive growth has ensured they’re now among the fastest-growing businesses in the state.

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Luca + Danni, a jewelry brand founded by CEO Fred Magnanimi in 2014 in honor of his late brother, has experienced especially significant growth: In May of this year alone, its e-commerce channel attracted seven figures worth of sales, resulting in over 25,000 orders placed and shipped. That’s a 1,300 percent increase in sales compared to May 2016.

 

Another Rhode Island success story can be found in Maternova, which provides obstetric and newborn technologies to private hospitals, governments, Ministries of Health, NGOs and healthcare professionals around the world. Founded in 2009 by CEO Meg Wirth, who bootstrapped the business for several years with the help of grants and seed funding, Maternova is now cash flow positive, scaling its business model, partnering with several corporates and smaller scale entrepreneurs and selling larger volumes of life-saving innovations. 

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Luca + Danni and Maternova’s respective CEOs, Fred and Meg, will join Jonas Clark, associate director of Brown University’s Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, at a roundtable on Nov. 20 to explore entrepreneurship and innovation in Rhode Island. Ellen McNulty-Brown, CEO of Lotuff Leather, will also be on hand to talk about doing business in Providence. The handbag maker, which has been called “the Hermes of the U.S.,” is now carried in boutiques and department stores around the world, having grown from three to nearly 20 employees over a period of several years.

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Fred, Meg and Ellen have all experienced firsthand how Rhode Island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has grown fertile as a result of the availability of resources, mentors and seed money (in the form of tax credits, grants, angel investment groups and more). Thanks to our governor and legislature’s leadership on pension and Medicaid reform, Rhode Island has reined in structural costs and flattened business’ trajectories with a suite of new incentives aimed at growing businesses and creating jobs. And a strong and tightly connected network of partners and student programs support innovators on their way to the next milestone.

 

Further, the state has devoted numerous spaces, place and accelerators to innovation. One of these is a new innovation district, anchored by a renovated century-old power station that is now shared by Brown University (which houses all of its administrative offices there) and the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College (which have jointly opened a state-of-the-art nursing school inside the building).

 

Russell Carey, Brown’s executive vice president for planning and policy, told The New York Times this month: “It’s an unusual partnership—a land-grant school like U.R.I. and an institution like Brown. I’ve never seen anything like it.”


To learn more about entrepreneurship in Rhode Island, we invite you to attend the #WhyRI: Entrepreneurship, Innovation & You roundtable, being held on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, from 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Petteruti Lounge at Brown University (75 Waterman Street Providence, RI 02912). Click here to RSVP. The roundtable is being sponsored by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Innovation Providence and Brown University’s Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship.

 

And, as always, know that you can count the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce among the resources readily available for entrepreneurs in the state. We are committed to sparking innovation and supporting new and aspiring Ocean State businesses at every stage of growth.

 

 

Awesome events for start-ups next week

Danny Warshay, Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, has assembled world-class presenters to mentor and inspire.

Danny Warshay, Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, has assembled world-class presenters to mentor and inspire.

We are very fortunate to have great depth of talent in the entrepreneur's space in Providence. A lot of that leadership comes from the academic community. One of the most abundant sets of resources comes from the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship at Brown University. A couple of events coming week may be of interest to local entrepreneurs.

Monday evening's event focuses on podcasting and the art of sound and Wednesday's lunchtime book talk with the co-founder of Runa Tea (backed by Leonardo Dicaprio and other celebrities focused on sustainability) will focus on building a startup through lessons he learned in the Amazon.

SOUND IDEAS: CLOSE LISTENING, PODCASTING, AND THE NEW RADIO
October 23 @ 5:30 - 8:00 pm
Studio 1, Granoff Center for the Arts
Registration link/Facebook link

Join the Brown Arts Initiative and the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship for a panel discussion (5:30 – 7:00 PM) exploring the inception and evolution of sound ideas and the podcasting industry and the potential for sound and podcasts to act as avenues to launch initiatives, careers and businesses. You will hear from the following panelists:

  • —Torey Malatia, Co-creator of This American Life and current RIPR GeneralManager/President/CEO
  • —Morra Aarons-Mele ‘98, founder of WomenOnline and the Podcast and book, Hiding in the Bathroom
  • —Sam Harnett and Chris Hoff, founders and hosts of the podcast The World According to Sound
  • —Alan Nakagawa, Interdisciplinary sound-based artist, Artist in Residence at Great Streets/LA Mayor’s Office

Following the panel (7:00 – 8:00 PM), Danny Warshay, Executive Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship, will lead a workshop on bottom-up research, an essential entrepreneurial skill to help you find and define your target market.

FULLY ALIVE: USING THE LESSONS OF THE AMAZON TO LIVE YOUR MISSION IN BUSINESS AND LIFE
Wednesday, Oct. 25; 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Petteruti Lounge, 75 Waterman Street

 
Runa Founder and Brown University alumnus Tyler Gage gathers inspiration in the Amazon.

Runa Founder and Brown University alumnus Tyler Gage gathers inspiration in the Amazon.

Fully Alive tells the story of Tyler Gage ’08 and his immersion in Amazonian indigenous spirituality and its life-changing impact on the trajectory of his company, living a meaningful life, and making an impact in the world. Tyler built RUNA from a scrappy start-up into a thriving, multimillion-dollar company that has become one of the fastest-growing beverage companies in the United States. With the help of investors such as Channing Tatum, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Olivia Wilde, RUNA has created a sustainable source of income for more than 3,000 farming families in Ecuador who sustainably grow guayusa in the rainforest. Simultaneously, RUNA has built a rapidly scaling nonprofit organization that is working to create a new future for trade in the Amazon based on respectful exchange and healing, not exploitation and greed.

Contact elizabeth_malone@brown.edu for details.

 

Thanks for the feedback!

We really appreciate the feedback we've received on the re-launch of EntrepreneurProvidenceRI.com. We have added some additional content and loaded up the Calendar of Events as a result of what you shared. 

I'd like to particularly thank Kevin Jankowski, director of the RISD Career Center, who always has his "RISD critique hat on."  He was generous in supplying us with images of recent RISD portfolio reviews and networking sessions to spice up the visuals. (Check out his page for info on how to hire a RISD grad.)

Also, we love the fact that the Jonathan Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship at Brown University circulated links to our site on Facebook.

We're getting lots of page views which will hopefully translate to more entrepreneurial activity in Providence. 

This week is going to be an exciting one with a couple of big announcements coming on the economic development front.

We'll be providing updates so be sure to check back. In the meantime, continue to share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions.