Updated March 23 at 9:23am

Biz plan competition names 2012 winners


PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Business Plan Competition announced the winners of its 2012 competition on Thursday at the Rhode Island Business Expo.

The three winners were picked from a group of seven finalists, which were chosen from 75 emerging and would-be entrepreneurs.

Winners and the seven finalists will share prizes valued at more than $200,000.

Businesses submitted entries under one of two different tracks. The entrepreneur track was open to any entrepreneur or would-be entrepreneur and the student track was open to any student enrolled in and attending an accredited college or university.

A “special award” was also open to one of the seven finalists developing a technology business.

Siren Marine Inc., a Connecticut-based company relocating to Providence won the technology award. Siren Marine develops waterproof GSM/GPS systems controlled by cell phones.

Siren was also the competition’s top cash prize winner. Daniel Harper, President of Siren Marine received $40,000 in cash in addition to roughly $25,000 in services.

Harper said Siren Marine will use its winnings to hire staff, ramp up local manufacturing, expand operations and market to the Rhode Island boating community before expanding outside the Ocean State.

JumpOffCampus, a free online service for colleges and universities to help their students find safe and affordable near-campus housing, won the entrepreneur track. The company was founded by Mark Abramowicz of Providence.

Overhead.fm, an application that will provide a customizable stream of music by licensing directly from artists and labels, won the student track. The company was co-founded by Stephen Hebson and Parker Wells, seniors at Brown University.

Both JumpOffCampus and Overhead.fm will receive $15,000 in cash as well as services valued at nearly $24,000.

Finalists in both tracks received $5,000 in cash in addition to services valued at between $9,000 and $11,500. In order to be eligible to win, applicants had to agree to establish or maintain operations in Rhode Island.

Entrepreneur Track Finalists

  • Buy with Heart – An online service for social enterprise products and services

  • Splitwise – a tool to help groups, down to roommates, calculate cost-sharing arrangements

Student Track Finalists

  • JC Wind – Creator of carbon-fiber based, inexpensive wind turbines.

  • Solar4Cents – Maker of low-cost solar cells for solar panel manufacturers

To date the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition has awarded more than $1.2 million in prizes to local businesses.

Major sponsors for the 2012 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition included: Davol Inc.; Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP; Embolden; Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP; Johnson & Wales University; Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co. Ltd.; Providence Journal Charitable Foundation; Rhode Island Commodores; R.I. Economic Development Corporation; and the University of Rhode Island.

Other sponsors included: AM 790; Amica Insurance; Bank Rhode Island; Bryant University; Braemar Energy Ventures; Business Development Company of Rhode Island; Care New England; Center for Women & Enterprise; Cherrystone Angel Group; Citizens Bank of Rhode Island; Collette Vacations; Fidelity Investments; FM Global; Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce; GTECH Corp.; Morgan Stanley Smith Barney; Nortek Inc.; NuLabel Technologies; Point Judith Capital; Providence College; Providence Business News; Rhode Island Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship; R.I. Science & Technology Advisory Council; R.I. Small Business Development Center; Slater Technology Fund; Tech Collective; Teknor Apex; Verizon; and Ximedica.

In addition, support was given by Banneker Industries Inc., CVS Caremark Corp., Freedom National Bank, Hayes & Sherry Real Estate Services, InsureMyTrip.com, Schneider Electric, ShapeUp, Taco Inc. and TD Bank.


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