STORY TO TELL: A speed-mentoring session facilitated by Hannah Chung, co-founder of Sproutel, showcased some of Rhode Island’s top woman-owned businesses at the May 14 Garage event.
COURTESY GREATER PROVIDENCE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
By Patricia Daddona PBN Staff Writer
Jerry the Bear, Sproutel Inc.’s first toy made to help children diagnosed with a chronic illness learn through play, will ship to 250 buyers at the end of November.
Last summer, the Providence startup did testing with 350 children and had “some really fantastic results,” co-founder and CEO Aaron Horowitz said in a recent phone interview with Providence Business News.
“We were really excited that the kids who were newly diagnosed who played with Jerry averaged 21 hours in the first week,” he said. “It just shows the level of engagement they have with the product and their potential to learn to take care of Jerry and build real-world skills they can use for the rest of their lives.”
That news is just part of the story Horowitz plans to share with as many as 150 participants attending the Oct. 29 event The Garage, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s answer to previous incarnations of the two-decades-old Business Expo.
Unlike the expo, the new format features talks, panel discussion and interactive conversations. Focusing on “The Intersection of Design and Manufacturing” in Rhode Island, the talents, ideas, innovations and success stories that are so abundant here will be presented between the hours of 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Rhode Island School of Design’s Chace Center at 20 North Main St.
The fall “Mini-Garage” is smaller than its first showing last spring, when about 1,000 people attended at the R.I. Convention Center, said Chamber President Laurie White.
“It’s a gathering of people coming together randomly and spontaneously,” she said. “The idea is to be casual and informal and random. That’s the way people interact these days; it’s more natural.”
That said, the Garage is structured around a fairly fixed schedule that includes a Knowledge Economy Community Forum led by Innovation Providence, which measures statewide progress and determines strategy, at 2 p.m.; a panel discussion by former and current Rhode Island School of Design professors introduced by RISD President John Maeda entitled, “Design, Manufacturing and the Art of Making Things” at 3 p.m.; and a Networks of Innovation Showcase featuring Verizon, Betaspring and other small companies, including Sproutel, at 4:15 p.m.