It is altogether appropriate that as the state’s unemployment rate remains in the double digits and the issue of jobs is the beginning, middle and end of so many conversations, that startup accelerator Betaspring is in the midst of its fall session, guiding 13 companies through the growing pains of bringing an idea to market.
Supported by a recent federal grant of $2 million, as well as private capital of similar scale, Betaspring’s mentor-driven model is proof that the entrepreneurial spirit is not just alive and well in Rhode Island, but bursting with the energy that builds businesses and creates jobs.
In addition to the teams currently going through the rigorous 12-week program, Betaspring lays claim to 32 accelerator graduates, companies that include NuLabel Technologies, Manpacks and the recently acquired DiJiPOP, which used their experience in Providence to attract investors and start making their products and services a reality.
Betaspring’s success has been noted as far away as the White House, which 18 months ago named the incubator a member of the TechStars Network, an alliance of startup-accelerator programs across the world that is part of the Startup America initiative, an effort to mentor 6,000 entrepreneurs over four years.
For its own part, Betaspring is looking to bring the number of companies it has helped come to life since 2009 to 100 by the end of 2013. That goal is not as far-fetched as it sounds, given that 500 companies applied to become part of the program in the last 12 months, according to Betaspring.
The 13 companies in Betaspring’s fall session will not solve the state’s unemployment crisis by themselves when they graduate in November, but it’s a good start. •