Maternova

Business Leaders Offer Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

On a recent Monday afternoon, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel discussion at Brown University about the ways that entrepreneurs and forward thinkers are leading the way to a new Rhode Island. Moderated by Inc. contributor and Shorty Award winner Jeff Barrett, the conversation featured entrepreneurs and educators who are contributing to the state’s thriving maker ecosystem.

Co-hosted by Innovation Providence and Brown University’s Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, Jeff was joined on the panel by Fred Magnanimi, CEO and founder of Luca + Danni; Meg Wirth, CEO and co-founder of Maternova; Ellen McNulty-Brown, CEO of Lotuff Leather; and Jonas Clark, associate director of Brown’s Nelson Center.

We captured many of the insights shared by panelists on the @ProvChamber Twitter feed, which I hope you’ll take some time to read through. And for those of you who haven’t joined the Twitterverse, here’s the advice that each panelist said they would share with an aspiring entrepreneur. Happy reading! 

1.      “Give yourself runway—give yourself time to fail before you succeed.” —Jeff Barrett, Inc. contributor and PR consultant

2.      “Start with the question that you are focused on. Then have the confidence, persistence and passion to find a solution to that question.” —Meg Wirth, CEO and co-founder, Maternova

3.      “Be a good listener. Pay attention to your customers. Ask yourself whether you are building something that will provide value to those you serve.” —Jonas Clark, associate director, Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, Brown University

4.      “Don’t think, just do—and you will learn by doing.” —Ellen McNulty-Brown, CEO, Lotuff Leather

5.      “Don’t be afraid to cold email or cold call. You will get a lot of no’s—but be relentless. And make sure you surround yourself with a great team.” —Daniel DeCiccio, co-founder and CTO, Vitae Industries

6.      “Partner with a mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to fail. Don’t accept no for an answer. And take a test-and-learn approach.” —Fred Magnanimi, CEO and founder, Luca + Danni

We appreciate the participation of these business leaders and look forward to the new stories that the next generation of Rhode Island entrepreneurs are now writing.

For more information, read our blog post on the forces feeding entrepreneurship in the state today, and contact us if you’d like to learn more about the ways the Chamber is sparking innovation and supporting entrepreneurs in the state.

 

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.

dc7b90d99870c41da68016e0fdd40768--luca-and-danni-druzy-jewelry.jpg

 

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. 

Maternova+Story_Page_02.jpg

 

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.

lotuff.jpg

 

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.