Betaspring adds program for ‘maker-fellows’

By Kaylen Auer
PBN Staff Writer

Following an elevator-pitch lineup of smart-app, Web-platform and mobile-messenger developers, whose intangible products live in lines of code, Amir Ata Ghofrani, the co-founder and CEO of Quitbit, took center-stage at the Oct. 3 open house at Betaspring’s Providence headquarters. More

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INNOVATION

Betaspring adds program for ‘maker-fellows’

PBN PHOTO/TRACY JENKINS
GUIDING LIGHT: Amir Ata Ghofrani, the co-founder and CEO of Quitbit, shows off his company’s “intelligent lighter” at an Oct. 3 Betaspring open house.

By Kaylen Auer
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 10/14/13

Following an elevator-pitch lineup of smart-app, Web-platform and mobile-messenger developers, whose intangible products live in lines of code, Amir Ata Ghofrani, the co-founder and CEO of Quitbit, took center-stage at the Oct. 3 open house at Betaspring’s Providence headquarters.

In his left hand, he held up a rough square of 3-D printed plastic and cannibalized parts.

“This is the world’s first intelligent lighter,” he said.

Quitbit, founded in February by three Brown University alumni, is developing an Internet-enabled cigarette lighter that tracks smoking habits and guides users through the process of quitting. Quitbit is among 11 startups taken under Betaspring’s wing for the seventh session of the startup accelerator’s intensive 12-week program.

Ghofrani and Takuji Nakano, Quitbit co-founder and chief technology officer, met while earning their master’s degrees in innovation management and entrepreneurship from Brown University, and came up with the idea for Quitbit while smoking a cigarette.

“We were trying to quit, and I remember saying, ‘I don’t know how much I smoke,’ ” said Ghofrani. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

The pair recruited Fred Roeber, another Brown graduate, to develop the software that would allow users to customize a personal smoking-reduction program, while Nakano developed the physical prototype of the Quitbit lighter.

Now, halfway through Betaspring’s intensive 12-week program, Quitbit is preparing for the first pilot run of its refined prototype in the local community.

Quitbit is the latest successor in Betaspring’s long history of physical product and technology companies, and has benefited from the accelerator’s recent expansion of its “phystech” track, including a new workspace with an assortment of prototyping tools.

“We’ve always been very passionate about physical product and tech companies,” said Melissa Withers, Betaspring’s chief of staff.

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