MAKING CONNECTIONS: Shane Lennon, center, a Betaspring mentor and VP of marketing for DimentionU, speaks with 121 Nexus’ Foster Sayers and Albert Ho.
PBN PHOTO/STEPHANIE ALVAREZ EWENS
FREE FORM: David Bedard, rear left, of Compnet Insurance and Jon Bittner, red shirt, CEO of Splitwise, were among the business owners, mentors and mentees to partake in the FreeFriday event put on by the Founders League.
Amid exposed brick walls, black-leather chairs and sofas, and tables dotted with laptops, the Founders League launched its new back-to-back monthly collaboration opportunity – FreeFriday and FounderBar – on Feb. 22.
The discussion “huddles” planned around experienced entrepreneurs focused on raising capital, knowing your customer and surviving as the solo founder of a business. But the huddles continued and expanded as afternoon slid into evening.
In the high-ceiling Founders League space on Chestnut Street in Providence, groups of three and four entrepreneurs merged and shifted in an animated trading of business cards and ideas for sharing skills.
One group included Dave Counts, whose Providence-based company, countswebdesign.com, does website design, photography, video and graphic design; Peter Haas of Olneyville, executive director of Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group, who operates a nonprofit in Haiti; and David Brown of Wakefield, who runs mountain-op.com, a sort of Priceline for outdoor gear that raises money for outdoor and environmental nonprofits.
“I’m here because I’m starting a new nonprofit named Ethoco,” said Haas. “It’s crowd-funding of small mortgages to get people out of tents and into houses in Haiti. There are 200,000 people in tents in Haiti.”
The large number of Haitians still in tents three years after a devastating earthquake rocked the island means Haas travels back-and-forth from his Rhode Island base.
“I came to start co-working here, to have people to bounce ideas off and possibly to contract work to,” Haas said. “I could work at home, but I wouldn’t run into people who are doing software development.”
FreeFriday from noon to 6 p.m. is a chance to try out co-working at the Founders League, a partnership to help facilitate expansion of Rhode Island’s entrepreneurial environment.
Co-working is sharing 24/7 office space, Wi-Fi, printers and access to the entrepreneur community. The cost for as-available space is $150 a month, said Allan Tear, a managing partner of the Founders League and one of the founders of the startup accelerator Betaspring, which is located in the same building.