By Kaylen Auer
PBN Web Editor
By Kaylen Auer
PBN Web Editor
PROVIDENCE – More than 300 investors, business leaders and entrepreneurs gathered at Betaspring Thursday night for Launch Day, celebrating the startup accelerator’s newest graduating class of fledgling companies.
The fall 2013 cohort was selected from a pool of more than 200 applications. Since the start of the fall session 12 weeks ago, the 10 companies that completed the program have undergone a rigorous entrepreneurial bootcamp, refining their business plans, meeting with potential investors and customers from the Betaspring network, and learning the craft of growing a company.
“Startups are the engine of job creation,” said Allan Tear, co-founder and managing partner of Betaspring. “Rhode Island thrives when its entrepreneurs thrive.”
Driving the point home, Betaspring Chief of Staff Melissa Withers shared positive news from several Betaspring alumni, including Splitwise - recently named to Time Magazine’s list of the 50 Best iPhone Apps of 2013 - and Sproutel, whose co-founder Hannah Chung took top prize in the pitch competition at Fortune Magazine’s The Most Powerful Women summit in October, judged by national business leaders, including Warren Buffett.
Another alumnus, Acustom Apparel, just launched its first storefront at 330 West Broadway in New York. Acustom uses 3D measuring technology invented by co-founder Charlse Tse to tailor clothing for a perfect fit.
The 83 companies shepherded through Betaspring’s 12-week accelerator program since its inception in 2009 have raised more than $30 million in follow-on funding. Nearly half of those companies are headquartered in Rhode Island, while the remainder form a growing network of startups stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C., Tear said.
Next week, Betaspring plans to unveil the “Greater Providence Area Startup Map” detailing the impact and spread of the accelerator’s graduates throughout New England.
At Thursday’s Launch Day event, the founders of the 10 startups exiting Betaspring’s fall session each presented a four-minute pitch designed to showcase skills learned through the intensive 12-week program and pique the interest of potential investors.
Several companies shared news of promising developments to come, including athletics performance-tracking app APE Systems, getting ready to sign on the U.S. Olympic hockey team, and customized vending-machine manufacturer Momba, which just sold its first machine to a luxury high-rise company in Seattle and will add the head of Whirlpool Corp.’s supply chain management division to its team.
“Going forward, each of them will face different challenges,” said Withers. “Some of them already have users or customers and have to get more, and others are just now at the point where they have to go out and get their first users.”
The fall 2013 Betaspring companies included: