PROVIDENCE – The 2013 edition of the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition announced its winners Tuesday afternoon at The Garage, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s exposition dedicated to identifying and inspiring high-growth companies in the Ocean State.
Taking home the top prize in the entrepreneur track as well as the overall first prize in the annual competition was Haverhill Inc., a designer of fashion-forward fine jewelry at more accessible price points (starting at $250 and ranging up to $5,000 per piece), sourced through Rhode Island suppliers. The company, founded by CEO Alison Cariati and designer Haverhill Leach, will receive a total of $45,000 in cash and $24,000 in professional services, all donated by the program’s 48 sponsors. The company said that it plans use its winnings to rent office space, purchase computer equipment and launch its product line, which it will be displaying at a national trade show within a month.
First place in the student track was awarded to Azavy, the creation of three undergraduates from Brown University, Yale University and Northwestern University. The venture looks to link consumers, designers and 3D printing facilities in an online marketplace, azavy.com. The venture is live and has 38 products designed by 10 designers, manufactured by 28 3D printing facilities in nine countries, with more than 110 users signed up. To show off what the site can do, Tyler Benster, the Brown senior who presented for the company at the event, wore a purple bow tie printed out through the site. Azavy received $15,000 in cash as well as services valued at $24,000.
The winner of the technology special award, from the entrepreneur track and also receiving $15,000 in cash and $24,000 in services, was online tennis booking and payment system designer TennisHub. The site is already live and generating revenue, according to President Eddie Ross.
The three other finalists in the competition included:
EndoSphere Surgical Inc., which is developing a method to reposition laparoscopic surgical tools to provide surgeons with full control, making laparoscopic procedures easier, faster and safer to perform, in the entrepreneur track
Fashion Force, an online business-to-business social community and trade show alternative to cost effectively and efficiently connect and grow a fashion-based business, in the student track
Optitrum, developer of a handheld, noninvasive glucose meter that utilizes a small saliva sample to determine glucose concentrations in the body almost instantaneously, also in the student track
The three finalists received $5,000 in cash and services valued at $9,250. In addition, Fashion Force received a “catalyst bonus” of $5,000 in cash and $6,500 in services, based on an evaluation of the company’s needs and how significant an effect the award will have on its launch.
The business plan competition attracted 78 plans, ranging from the biotech, consumer, health care, information technology and manufacturing industries, among others. It was founded in 2001 and to date has given away more than $1.4 million in prizes, all supplied by sponsors.