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Andrea Chait, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA, NCSP Momentum Inc.

Dr. Andrea ChaitAndrea Chait has her Ph.D. in School Psychology, with a specialization in Applied Behavioral Analysis and Master’s degrees in Special Education and School Psychology. She is a Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Applied Behavioral Analyst, Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D), and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). Additionally, she is an Adjunct Professor at Salve Regina University, serves as chair on the newly established Licensure Board for Applied Behavior Analysts and most notably, the Executive Director of Momentum Inc., an organization she established in 2014 in response to the growing need of services for children in Rhode Island.

Momentum provides psychological, educational, and behavioral services to individuals, families, schools, and the community. Momentum is certified by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services as a Home Based Therapeutic Services provider-agency with a specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis and a certified Personal Assistance Services and Supports provider. Additionally, they provide consultation, services, and training to many public school districts throughout the state.

In its operation, Momentum fills the gap for children and their parents who are waiting to access treatment they need. Without Momentum’s services, children could potentially wait up to a year for access to treatment. “Research has shown that with intensive applied behavior analysis treatment, individuals can make significant gains in their cognitive, adaptive, and social behavior,” said Andrea. “The earlier the intervention, the better.”

With strong, empowering leadership driven by Andrea and her team, Momentum Inc. began with a small staff of four employees, and in just two years, Momentum Inc. now staffs over seventy employees. “I believe our collective passion drives this business. Our staff are committed to the mission. The leadership encourages this by empowering and positively reinforcing staff,” said Andrea.

There is consolation in the highly qualified, motivational work employed by Dr. Andrea Chait and her staff when reflecting on the direct impact they have on children and their families in the state. Rhode Island is truly honored to be the epicenter of such an incredible company.

Tuni Renaud Schartner, TRS Strategies

Tuni SchartnerDeeply committed to the community, Tuni Renaud Schartner, of TRS Strategies has continuously proven herself as a spirited member of the Rhode Island business community. With years of experience managing, owning and operating multiple businesses and receiving professional training in marketing/PR/business development strategy, in addition to spending much of her professional life working closely with chambers of commerce, town officials, and business leaders, she was passionate about increasing economic development where she resides. As opportunities aligned organically, Tuni, along with her partners Larry Zevon of Zevon Media and Mike Baker owner of the historic Lafayette Mill Complex, built a collaborative, community-based co- working facility in North Kingstown coined, The Hive RI.

The Hive hosts prominent members of the business community who share their knowledge with those eager to learn at their Lunch and Learn sessions. Members also share service offerings including social media, website development, marketing, etc. and The Hive hosts a multitude of networking events and workshops. The Hive truly fosters a supportive infrastructure for businesses, in all stages of development, to grow, as well as an environment where exchanging thoughts and ideas on how to enrich the community is the new business-as-usual.

Tuni not only enhances the personal and professional lives around her by crafting an innovative professional co-working space designed to help individuals realize their dreams, but Tuni’s blueprint is to have a larger impact on the community around her. Working with local historian and author, Tim Cranston, she continues to help preserve the mill’s historical integrity hosting historic walking tours, educational events, and evening lectures for members of the community and business professionals working in the building.

Tuni is an active member of local chambers of commerce, consistently bringing in innovative member businesses and entrepreneurs who will continue to promote a more vibrant community. Tuni also promotes local artists by using art to enhance The Hive’s surroundings. Tuni said, “Art has proven to promote a creative and productive atmosphere for those of us who work here, and it is invaluable to The Hive at this point.”

Congressman James R. Langevin noted, “Tuni has provided her expertise, offered growth solutions, and developed strategic plans of action for numerous Rhode Island companies. Tuni’s vast understanding of the business environment, her commitment to the community, and her support for those with a vision, is truly the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit.”

Spotlight on Startups: Busy Seed

Who is behind Busy Seed and is this your first startup?
BusySeed is a wonderful mix of people looking to make difference in the lives of small business owners. I, Omar Jenblat, am the founder and CEO of BusySeed and have been working with small businesses and startups for the past six years. I have led two previous startups that dealt with affiliate file hosting and developing a smart wallet, respectively.

How did you come up with the concept behind BusySeed?
We started in 2014 as a loyalty-based startup seeking to help merchants understand how to grow through their customer bases. In late 2014, Michel Boutros of Mike’s Calzones approached me asking for help with his business’s social media. He knew that he needed to market Mike’s through social media, but didn’t know how. After talking to a lot of small business owners, the realization became clear: social media is understood to be important but is very underutilized by merchants. Thus, BusySeed changed its focus from loyalty programs to social media management and marketing.

Give a brief overview of what your company does.
Business owners are constantly strapped for time, yet they know that a competitive online presence is crucial to their success. We completely alleviate small business owners of this responsibility and don’t just manage their online presence, but make it flourish and evolve. From managing their social media accounts (such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google Places, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) to making sure that their online reputation shines, we enable merchants to focus on putting bread on the table while we better their brands.

Where did the name come from?
Small businesses are the very seeds of our economy. Money spent in small businesses stays in the community and is used to help that community grow. Providence is a shining example of how small businesses create such a unique feel for a community. We make sure we help these seeds stay busy so that they can flourish; making everyone’s lives even better.

How many clients are you currently working with or have worked with?
We are currently working with ~20 local small businesses. Our clients are absolutely in love with what we do and they see how we are trying to make a difference. One in particular, Julio Fonseca of Geoff’s Superlative Sandwiches and Cafe Zog, had this to say: “BusySeed has done a fabulous job at managing the social media accounts for Geoff’s Superlative Sandwiches. The posts are classy, tasteful, and very professional, and the accompanying photos are just beautiful. BusySeed is a small business themselves and they embody that mindset, which means that they’re able to sympathize with all the issues that I, as a small business owner, have to deal with every day. The BusySeed team and I can relate on the same level, which is very important to me.”

What makes your business model so successful?
My father came to this country from Syria about 30 years ago with nothing but the desire to work hard. My parents didn’t have a lot of money so most days, you would find me in my father’s dry cleaners sleeping on rows of rolled fabric. I grew up in a small business, and I know what small business owners have to go through to make a living. We provide cost-effective services that allow small businesses to grow without breaking the bank each month. Yet I think the biggest reason why this model works is because we get very personal with our customers. We always sit down with our customers to learn what inspired them to become a small business owner. Every customer has my personal cell phone number and we help each other grow.

What is your company’s competitive advantage over other social media companies?
We understand small businesses and we absolutely adore them. We don’t charge hundreds and hundreds of dollars each month for simple monitoring tools or non-unique content posting. We are local and always plan to keep local presences no matter where we expand. We don’t believe we can successfully embody our client’s ideals without being able to drink coffee with them or grab some sushi from them.

Why did you start your business in Rhode Island?
I grew up in Providence, RI for most of my life, so it only made sense to help my hometown. As small as Rhode Island is, it is a wonderful collection of cultures and history that can’t be found anywhere else. I want to see Providence and other Rhode Island cities grow, and the key to that is to grow the small businesses.

What advice would you give to an entrepreneur looking to begin a startup?
In the words of Shia Labeouf, “Just do it”. Everybody will tell you that your idea won’t work, or that it isn’t attractive, but you can’t let that sway you. If you believe you can do some good, start doing it. Your idea may change down the road, but so long as you keep believing in yourself, you will become successful.

Are there any other insights you’d like to give to your clients?
We at BusySeed are absolutely dedicated to small businesses and to the wonderful people who own them. We work every day to make sure merchants can worry about doing what they do best. If we can make their job easier, we know that we are doing good for the community.

Does Your Not-For-Profit Contribution Include Learning?

Several years ago I was addressing a group of students at a state university when one of the students stated that he thought it was immoral to work for a profit-making company.  Thus, upon graduation he would be seeking a job in the not-for-profit sector.

The student was seemingly unaware of the fact that for-profits donate billions of dollars each year to foundations and directly to not-for-profits. Additionally, many higher income individuals who make donations to not-for-profits earn their money from profitable business interests and not-for-profits may invest their endowment in for-profit business. While this student was extreme, other students also seemed unaware of the huge role that for-profit companies have in making our not-for-profits function. Based upon this experience and other similar experiences, I would encourage businesses to let your employees, customers and neighbors know specifically what you do to support not-for-profits in your community. Help them to learn how their dollars spent locally helps to support their community. Done effectively, this may even persuade more customers to buy locally.

In addition to contributing money and perhaps executive and employee time in supporting not-for-profits, help your not-for-profit organization learn about what you do, learn about how you do it, and learn some of your best techniques so that they can function more effectively. Two programs which I established and ran when I was at IBM Division Headquarters include Career Explorations and From College to Career. Career Explorations was a program for high school-aged sons and daughters of our employees and for students from local educational institutions to come to our facility one evening a month during the academic year to have dinner and learn about careers from our employees. College to Career was a similar program run during the summer months for college students. In both programs we shared our expertise with the community. While these programs might be a big undertaking for a very small business, groups of businesses or a local chamber can join together to make it possible for even the smallest of businesses to offer these programs. They would provide a great opportunity to educate students (and, potentially, some parents might decide to do business with you as a result of their listening in on these programs).  Alternatively, you might develop another type of learning opportunity, but do think of ways to educate your community and help your employees and yourself learn as part of your not-for-profit engagement.

I would like to thank Industrial Consultant Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments

By Ronald G. Shapiro, Ph. D.

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