Winners Named in the 2013 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition

PROVIDENCE, RI – A recently formed, Providence-based company that is developing a brand of fashionable, fine jewelry was named the top winner in the 2013 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition today, sharing with other winners and finalists prizes valued at more than $200,000.

Haverhill Incorporated, founded last fall by Alison Cariati and Haverhill Leach, was declared the winner in the Entrepreneur Track of the competition at a special awards ceremony at The Garage, an economic development event hosted by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

In addition to being named track winner, the Haverhill team was awarded a bonus of $30,000 in cash, for a total of $45,000 in cash and $24,000 in professional and consulting services.

Cariati, CEO of Haverhill, said the company plans to use the funds to rent office space, purchase computer equipment, and defray costs for launching its product line.

Describing the opportunity for her company, Cariati said, “We polled women who currently own and purchase jewelry and found a consistent response: lack of enthusiasm for selection of style at accessible price points. We found women are seeking fine jewelry as versatile, statement accessories.”

Named Student track winner was Azavy, which is creating an online store for 3D printed goods that crowd-sources manufacturing, enabling consumers to buy products designed and 3D printed by users. Tyler Benster, a senior undergraduate majoring in applied mathematics and economics at Brown University, is leading the team, which includes Michael Anderson, a senior at Yale University, and Mark Fischer, a senior at Northwestern University.

Winning the Technology Special Award was TennisHub, an emerging Providence-based company led by President Eddie Ross that has developed an online bookings and payments system that connects tennis players with opportunities to play at commercial courts. The product it has created-a highly scalable software as a service (SAAS)-helps tennis businesses grow by enabling them to sell unused court time and operate more efficiently.

The Student track and Technology winners each received $15,000 in cash and services valued at $24,000.

Finalist in the Entrepreneur track was EndoSphere Surgical, Inc., a Newton, Mass., company led by Mel Prenovitz that is developing a method to reposition laparoscopic surgical tools to make laparoscopic procedures easier, faster, and safer to perform.

Finalists in the Student track were:

  • Fashion Force, a company developed by Bryant University senior Melissa Ellard that will provide an online trade show alternative to connect fashion industry manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers.
  • Optitrum, which is making a handheld, non-invasive glucose meter to manage diabetes, led by Jenny Yu, who is studying for a master of science degree in Brown University’s Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship. Also on the team are Xinming Shi, Lu Liu, and Jing Feng, all graduate students at Brown.

Finalists in both tracks received $5,000 in cash and services valued at $9,250

The judges also awarded Fashion Force a “catalyst bonus” of $5,000 cash and $6,500 in services in recognition of the potential impact that the additional awards will have on the company’s ability to achieve near-term market traction.

All prizes were donated by sponsors, which included private companies, professional services firms, investors and banks, foundations, nonprofits, colleges and universities, and public agencies. To be eligible to for prizes, applicants had to agree to establish or maintain operations in Rhode Island.

Competition Co-chair Larry Davidson, principal with the Providence-based accounting firm of Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co., said, “The winners and finalists all put forward highly promising, high potential ideas for companies that we believe will strengthen the business community in Rhode Island.”

Peggy Farrell, partner in the law of firm of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder and competition co-chair, said, “We’re able to help these emerging companies thanks to the generosity of the dozens of sponsors and supporters who make the competition possible. They understand that emerging businesses need to be nurtured, and we commend them for stepping up to the plate in Rhode Island.”

The 2013 competition attracted 78 business plans that spanned biotech, consumer, health care, Internet, manufacturing, and software, among other, industries.

This year marked the tenth time the competition has been held since it first awarded prizes in 2001. To date, it has awarded more than $1.4 million in prizes.

Ten Business and Community Leaders Served as Judges

Serving as judges in the 2013 competition were the following business and community leaders:

  • Larry Davidson, principal, Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co., Ltd.
  • Adriana Dawson, state director, Rhode Island Small Business Development Center
  • Margaret Farrell, partner, Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP
  • Katharine Flynn, director of corporate and foundation relations, University of Rhode Island
  • John Groetelaars, president, Davol Inc., a subsidiary of C. R. Bard, Inc.
  • Jeff Jefferson, partner, Edwards Wildman & Palmer
  • Stephen Lane, co-Founder and CEO, Ximedica
  • Sandra Potter, director of the Global Entrepreneurship Program, Bryant University
  • Shawn Scott, director of sales and marketing, Collette Vacations
  • Christine Smith, director of Innovation Programs, RI Economic Development Corporation

 Sponsors of the 2013 Competition

Lead sponsors of the 2013 competition are Davol Inc., a Bard Company, the Providence Journal Charitable Foundation , and the University of Rhode Island, along with Cumulus Media-Providence (AM 790), Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, Embolden, Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP, and Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co., Ltd.

Also supporting the competition are Braemar Energy Ventures, Brown University, Bryant University, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island Small Business Journal, Bank of America, Business Development Company, Collette Vacations, FM Global, Johnson & Wales University, Point Judith Capital, Providence College, Rhode Island Economic Development Corp., Roger Williams University, and Slater Technology Fund.

Additional support has been provided by Bank Rhode Island, Care New England Health System, Center for Women & Enterprise, Centreville Bank, Cherrystone Angel Group, Citizens Bank of Rhode Island, Deepwater Wind, Dimeo Construction Company, Gilbane Inc., GTECH Corporation, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Nortek, Inc., Teknor Apex, The Moore Company, Ximedica, Bank Newport, Freedom National Bank, Hayes & Sherry Real Estate Services, Hope Global,, JH Lynch & Sons, New England Institute of Technology, ShapeUp, Tech Collective, Betaspring, and Rhode Island Small Business Development Center

About the Competition

Established in 2000, the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition recently was named one of the top 40 business plan competitions in the country. To date, it has awarded more than $1.4 million in prizes to competitors developing companies across many industries.

In addition to awarding prizes, the competition hosts educational events in the months leading up to the application deadline in early April. They include business development, financial planning, and presentation skills workshops. In addition, the competition hosts the annual Rhode Island Elevator Pitch Complete competition information, including rules, application procedures, guidelines, and business plan resources, is available at

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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