Rhode Island Coalition of Entrepreneurs

Providence Startup Day 2019

On Saturday, May 4th the Rhode Island Coalition of Entrepreneurs held Rhode Island’s inaugural Start Up Day at URI Providence’s Paff Auditorium in the Shepard Building, 80 Washington Street, Providence. Over 140 members of the state's Startup Ecosystem registered for the all day event.

Lead Sponsor

University of Rhode Island
URI Ventures

Angel Sponsors

Commerce RI
Company Launch Partners
Cox Business
Howell Legal
Innovate Newport
Rogue Venture Partners
Virgin Pulse



This event was created for people starting companies in RI and across New England. We have an outstanding agenda shaped by our members:

10:00 AM


10:45 AM

Opening Remarks

  • Pat Sabatino, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition of Entrepreneurs
  • Dr. David Dooley, President, The University of Rhode Island
11:00 AM

Session 1: Story Telling

  • Vanessa Boyton, Account Director, Matter Communications
  • Mallory Kuno, Account Director Providence Office

“Storytelling is by far the most underrated skill when it comes to business” – Gary Vaynerchuk

A founder’s ability to tell their story sets the foundation for success. Your company’s story will help you to convince investors to take notice and customers to buy. It’s fundamental to creating passion in your team members as they drive your mission. The best brands are built with a great story. We’ll talk about how to structure the message to highlight your company’s unique value proposition. How to differentiate your business and how to clearly and succinctly explain it. The story will help you to create your elevator pitch, sales materials and investor pitch.

11:45 AM

Session 2: Fundraising and Crowdsourcing Basics

  • Victor Allis, Member, Beacon Angel Group
  • Taegon Lee, Founder, ToGoBOX
  • Tom Sperry, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Rogue Venture Partners

“The best entrepreneurs made me feel like the train was leaving the station whether I got on board or not” – Jon Callahan, True Ventures

Every entrepreneur needs to understand how to capitalize the company at each stage of development. Depending on the stage of your startup, there are many different pathways to funding. We’ll explore the differences between types of investors such as angels or venture capitalists. We’ll also look at new forms of raising capital like crowdfunding. Ultimately, it’s all about knowing how much funding you will need to get to key milestones. We’ll discuss how you can prepare, what investors are looking for and how to consider your options.

12:30 PM


  • Jorge Elorza, Mayor of Providence, RI
1:00 PM

Session 3: Accounting and Legal Musts

  • Ted Howell, Founder, Howell Legal
  • Joe St. Germain, Founder, Company Launch Partners

“A ‘startup’ is a company that is confused about – 1. What its product is. 2. Who its customers are. 3. How to make money.” – Dave McClure, 500Startups Co-founder

Core to every startup are the supporting infrastructures of legal and accounting. Starting off with the right legal framework is essential especially if you are looking for investors. What do you need to know about protecting intellectual capital? How do you interpret term sheets? Early in the life of a startup, having the right legal advice is essential to your overall success. Similarly, your financial plan defines the business at its core. It gives you a critical blueprint to operate your company and is how investors will understand your thinking and assumptions about the business. When do you need a bookkeeper vs. an accountant? We’ll explore the basics that you need to know for accounting at every stage of your business.

1:45 PM

Session 4: Design Thinking, CX and UX

  • Matt Flanagan, Marketing and Innovation Strategist

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple

Is your startup idea worth perusing? Design thinking is a framework for solving problems. It begins by building a deep understanding of the people for whom you are designing for. Then developing empathy for them, and cultivating an awareness of the problem as they see it. Join us as we learn how to think about your idea through your customer’s eyes. How can you be sure you are uncovering your customer’s true needs? Once there, we’ll look at ways to consider multiple pathways to answer those needs. Ultimately, how can you decide which solution will be economically viable as a business?

2:30 PM


2:45 PM

Session 5: HR and Getting the Culture Right

  • Caroline Mailloux, The Medici Group

“You need a team that’s going to care about this thing as much as you do.” – Scott Heiferman, Co-Founder and CEO of Meetup.com

Finding and hiring the best people for your company is a make-or-break activity. Everyone’s heard stories of how cofounders and early employees can create conflicts that can get in the way of running the business. How do you know what skills you will need? And moreover, what’s the right chemistry that will bring together a cohesive team that can tackle what lies ahead. Wondering what’s the best way to attract talent at every stage of your startup? We’ll explore how important getting the right team is to your success.

3:15 PM

Session 6: Running the Startup

  • John DiPippo, CEO, Survey Advantage
  • Patrice Milos, Co-Founder and President, Medley Genomics
  • Joe Loberti, Independent Business Consultant

“Running a startup is like narrowly avoiding a head on collision every day” – Jason Calacanis

Sleepless nights, pangs of stress and moments of true elation, these are the characteristics of any entrepreneur who has taken the journey of running a startup business. At every step of the way there are unknown twists, dashed expectations and new opportunities. Why do we do it? The rewards can be tremendous. Join us as we talk through the issues with some of Rhode Island’s top startup executives. We’ll learn what it feels like at each stage, and what you can do about it.

4:00 PM

Session 7: Dealing with Failure

  • Tino Chow, Founder, Giant Shoulders
  • Matt Lukens, Entreprenuer and Founder, Live Free at Home
  • Allison Bebee, Entrepreneur and GM, Proud Mary's Donuts
  • Patrick McMillan, Founder, McMillan Metals

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

Failure is a natural part of being an entrepreneur. Just knowing this doesn’t make it any easier to deal with it! We’ll explore how your attitude towards failure will help you to get to the other side. How you can use failure as a springboard to the next thing. Instead of letting failure get you down, we’ll discuss how you can respond to it more constructively with the right questions, and turn a loss into a gain.

4:45 PM

Social hour

Meet and mingle with fellow entrepreneurs!