“It was one of those funny moments,” recalled Davide Dukcevich, one of the third generation of family members to lead Burrilville-based Daniele Inc., producers of gourmet charcuterie, or cured meat products.
“My father was selling prosciutto to distributors and one of them was a company called Costco,” he said. “They wanted pre-sliced prosciutto. My father said, ‘They don’t know prosciutto in California.’ But it was a seminal moment. We realized shoppers would want to just pick up the package off the shelf, take it home and use it. We managed to invest in a slicer.”
The company thrived and the take-away is that small businesses can often be more flexible than large corporations and make investments that boost business dramatically, said Dukcevich.
His story was among several “aha” moments shared by local business leaders on May 14 at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s newly designed business conference called The Garage.
The event at the R.I. Convention Center was the Chamber’s effort to move the business meeting into the rapid pacing of the environment made iconic by startups in Silicon Valley. The Garage has replaced the Chamber’s two-decades-old Business Expo that was marked by rows of exhibitors and more-structured presentations.
The consumer-products panel Dukcevich was part of was one of four during the afternoon. Business leaders ranging from third-generation family executives to leaders of rapidly-expanding young businesses were allowed three minutes to describe an “aha” moment here, a few sentences on growth opportunities there and a brief commentary on overcoming challenges meant to inspire others.
Another “aha” moment came from panelist Danny Warshay, executive chairman of Providence-based G-Form. The 2.5-year-old company creates “reactive protective technology” products of material that hardens for a micro-second then goes back to its original state, said Warshay. One of its uses is to protect smartphones from damage.
“We had come across this chemical and started playing around with it,” Warshay told the business audience. “We realized we could mold it into kind of funky shapes. We had this one that we thought was a mistake and we tossed it aside.”