Introducing the Founders League!

Betaspring is excited to be part of a new consortium that is building the next generation of startup support programs in Rhode Island!  We've dubbed the effort the 'Founders League' and the work reflects how much growth we've seen in our startup ecosystem over the last few years.  Thanks to the Providence Chamber of Commerce, Brown University and the University of Rhode Island for making this important step possible!

We've learned a lot about what founders--experienced and aspiring--need to succeed. Chief among these lessons is the importance of authentic community. You can't build in isolation and surviving the ups and downs of launching a new venture is easier when you surround yourself with people who have credible, relevant insights to share.  Pair that with a strong network of mentors, rock-solid learning opportunities, and good old fashioned social supports and you have...well...a league of founders ready to make it through the startup grind.  Critical mass is the goal and we are making fast progress.

Why does Betaspring, which is  pretty busy running our accelerator program, want to be in the lead getting this platform going? Last spring, 15 of the 16 companies that went through the accelerator decided to stay in Providence. This fall, we expect several companies from our current cohort to do the same. Many of our most effective mentors live and/or work within 60 miles of our headquarters. A strong startup ecosystem in Rhode Island is important to their success. We live here, work here and take pride in our East Coast swagger. If we can work with committed partners to keep our community on an upward trajectory, you bet we are going to give it our best effort.

The Founders League isn't something brand new hatched in our heads. Thanks to our friends at the Cambridge Innovation Center, we have borrowed many ideas on how to build a strong, resiliant startup community. I read every email that General Assembly sends out and keep track of the programs we know we can, and should, emulate. The Founders League is lucky, not only to be within driving distance of these two very cool platforms, but to have the luxury of learning from their successes.  So....Here's the official announcement we made today. We'll be back soon with updates and opportunities to get involved! 

“Founders League” Will Strengthen Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, Expand Programs for High Growth Start-ups and Entrepreneurs 
Betaspring, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Brown University and the University of Rhode Island partner to launch next-gen entrepreneurial platform in Rhode Island

Thanks to a catalytic partnership between Betaspring, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, University of Rhode Island and Brown University, Rhode Island will soon have a new resource to help start-ups, students and aspiring entrepreneurs connect, learn and build high-growth ventures.

Building upon programming initially launched by the Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a new “Founders League” will offer community, space and programming where entrepreneurs at all stages of development can find inspiration and support.

Betaspring will provide leadership for the platform and a physical nexus for the activity at their 95 Chestnut Street headquarters. Beginning this fall, Betaspring will roll-out a mix of entrepreneur-centric activities, such as community coworking, educational programming and networking events, as well as oversee a planning process to establish the platform’s long-term operating plan. The process to establish an operating plan will be led by a steering committee of representatives from the partner organizations and leaders from the entrepreneur community.

“We are excited to work with this consortium to drive forward the next generation of entrepreneurship programming in Rhode Island,” says Jon Duffy, chairman of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “This initiative is a bull’s eye in the Chamber’s strategic plan, which is centered around fueling entrepreneurial and small business growth and developing the state’s Knowledge Economy. The overwhelming support from the Board and general membership for this effort only serves to echo the mindset that startups, students and entrepreneurs are a critical part of the Rhode Island economy.”

Over the next 12-weeks, the team will convene groups of entrepreneurs, mentors and community partners to solicit input on how the platform can be deployed to support the sustained growth of a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rhode Island.

“Supporting the continued success of Rhode Island's burgeoning entrepreneurial community is essential to realizing our shared goal of growing a vibrant, diverse and sustainable economy," said Brown University President Christina Paxson. "Brown is delighted to continue to partner in this critical area, and we look forward to working collaboratively to deepen connections across the community and cultivate an environment to encourage success."

The Founders League is planning an official launch event and celebration in December. The team will also experiment with a variety of programming to rapidly gather feedback from the community.

“A strong community of mentors, peers and resources is vital to helping student and faculty entrepreneurs take their ideas from dream to reality. Investing in a platform that creates and sustains those connections is one of the smartest investments we can make in our economic future. We are glad to be a part of this important effort,” says URI President David Dooley.

Guiding principles for the platform include:

--An iconic physical nexus. Place matters. Creating synergies and circulation are among the most important components of successful entrepreneurial communities and their support platforms. Physical consolidation will make it easier to create a “critical mass” of activity that bolsters programmatic efficiency and social connectivity for entrepreneurs. The long term vision is to build an “entrepreneurial campus” of interconnected services and resources.

--Co-working community. Co-working communities provide entrepreneurs with access to a strong community of peers and a physical space to work that is conducive to entrepreneurial success. Incubation also helps move entrepreneurs and new ventures through a pipeline of programs, supports and services that can significantly increase success for a new venture.

--Attract and connect students. Students represent an important resource and a key asset in Rhode Island’s effort to build a strong entrepreneurial community. Students are attracted to programs that meet and reflect their needs.  The Founders League will build on current efforts to offer a special track for students that adapts and responds to their needs, interests, and social behaviors. 

--Self sustaining business model. The Founders League will transition to a self-sustaining business model within three years.

--Enhanced programming. Building on the foundation laid over the last three years at the Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Founders League will offer a robust continuum of programming and services to match the spectrum of needs within Rhode Island's entrepreneurial and start-up community. 

--Engage more entrepreneurs. There are many steps to creating a venture and people need different entry points and supports along the way. The Founders League will place strong emphasis on creating a dynamic and activated environment that attracts and meets the needs of a diverse community of entrepreneurs. The platform will be geared towards high-growth entrepreneurship and offer multiple channels to serve experienced entrepreneurs, as well as those who are just beginning to explore their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Over the next few weeks, the Founders League will engage other universities and colleges in the area, as well as businesses from across the state that want to join in and support the effort. 

“Many positive things have happened in the startup community over the last few years and the community is stronger and more connected than ever before. It’s great now to build on that momentum and apply what we have learned to help a broader community of founders and entrepreneurs in Rhode Island,” says Betaspring managing partner and co-founder Allan Tear.  

Until an established web presence for accepting feedback has been created, questions can be directed to foundersleague@betaspring.com.