PROVIDENCE – (May 17, 2018) – A Brown University student who
developed a low-cost software package that lets social workers efficiently
manage documents and information flows was named the top winner in the 2018
Rhode Island Business Plan Competition, which awarded prizes valued at $259,300
to six competitors.
Michelle Petersen, whose TextUp software packing is
already being sold, took home $86,650 in winnings – $15,000 in cash and $41,650
in professional and consulting services as the Student Track winner, plus a
$30,000 bonus cash award.
Winners were announced today at a public awards ceremony at the
Rhode Island Nursing Education Center in Providence.
Ross Nelson, vice president of Cox Business, announced that
Petersen as the top winner will automatically be a finalist in the $50,000 Get
Started Rhode Island pitch contest, to be held Oct. 4 in Providence.
Petersen, due to receive her bachelor's degree in public policy
this month, said social workers typically handle up to 60 clients
simultaneously, but on average dedicate only about 18% of their time to direct
client service. The rest of their time is spent managing and documenting
interactions. She said, TextUp, which tracks all critical information, allows
users to devote more time on clients, fostering more enduring relationships and
reducing job turnover.
Winning the Entrepreneur Track was Your Heaven Audio,
based in Providence and led by Steve Schwartz, which offers a hardware/software
technology platform for amplifying and recording acoustic musical instruments
accurately and easily. Your Heaven Audio received $15,000 in cash plus $41,650
in professional and consulting services.
Winner of the MedTech/Life Sciences Award was Predictive
Optics, which is developing a portable, inexpensive device that optically
evaluates cerebrovascular health by quantifying retinal blood flow dynamic
differences between eyes. Predictive Optics, led by Vishnu Dantu, who is
studying applied mathematics and biology at Brown University, was awarded
$15,000 in cash and $52,400 in professional and consulting services.
"The judges were impressed by the breadth and capabilities
of this year's winners and finalists, all of whom are developing robust solutions
to critical business issues," said Co-Chair Peggy Farrell, partner with
the law firm of Hinckley Allen in Providence. "We not only wish them luck,
but also look forward to working with them."
Co-chair Anthony Mangiarelli, partner with the accounting firm
of KLR in Providence, noted, “We're only able to host the competition because
of the generosity of our sponsors, who by their support demonstrate their keen
interest in helping to foster the next generation of Rhode Island companies.”
This 2018 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition was supported
by 58 sponsors.
The finalist in the Entrepreneur Track was PowerDocks,
which has created floating platforms, such as moorings and docks, that use
renewable energy sources to generate, store, and distribute power at those
sites. Anthony Baro, of Newport, is the managing partner.
Finalists in the Student Track were:
is a rover-based detection system, using multispectral imaging, to identify
mold growth before the human eye can, replacing manual inspections which often
lack accuracy. The company is led by David Katzevich, due to get his bachelor's
degree from Brown University this month, majored in entrepreneurship and
led by Saron Mechale who is studying business and entrepreneurship at Brown
University, is a low sugar, all-natural, nutrition bar that uses Teff, a
gluten-free super-grain with low-glycemic index and a superior balance of
nutrients, for cardio, nutrition, and health-minded consumers.
Each finalist received $5,000 in cash and services valued at
Approximately 50 previous Rhode Island Business Plan Competition
participants are currently operating, having created more than 500 jobs, and
buying services and supplies from Rhode Island companies.
A total of 61 applications were received this year. To be
eligible to win prizes, applicants agreed to establish or continue business
operations in Rhode Island.