Startup community to host networking, pitch events over the next month

Updated at 3:51 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2021.

PROVIDENCE Local entrepreneurs will have multiple opportunities to network, pitch and grow their business over the next month. founder and RIHub Advisory Board member Adam Alpert will host Startup Night Sept. 30 at Venture Café Providence, while RIHub will host its first Startup Week from Oct. 18-22.

RIHub’s Startup Week traces back to Startup Day, held in 2019 by the Rhode Island Coalition of Entrepreneurs. In 2020, RIHub expanded this event into Startup Weekend, and the organization is now expanding its programming into five days dedicated to promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.

In addition to celebrating innovation and entrepreneurship, the event also aims to help residents, whether they are entrepreneurs or not, gain a better understanding of the startup economy and how it can thrive.

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“When you look at the other major metro areas in the country — Denver, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Chicago — they all have a startup week,” said Annette Tonti, managing director of RIHub, “and I just thought it was time for Rhode Island to have its own startup week.”

RIHub will hold most of the week’s programming on a virtual basis, though two in-person showcase events will take place in Providence and Newport on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Other programming includes “The Calamari Tank,” a localized version of Shark Tank with the winner determined by an audience vote, and “A Lively Pitch,” where 20 startups will have the chance to pitch to investors from around the country.

Software development and consulting service The Mullings Group will also build an app for a selected business in one week, compared to the three to six months usually set aside for this task.

Overall, RIHub anticipates between 50 and 100 startups will participate in the week’s programming.

“We’re really going after the companies that have the ability to scale,” Tonti said. “It’s an area in Rhode Island that there hasn’t been enough of, so it’s our mission to advance those companies that can scale.”

A full schedule of Startup Week events is available at

Prior to Startup Week, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to connect and pitch at Alpert’s Startup Night, held at 4 p.m. next Thursday at Venture Café Providence.

“We’re bringing together local tech entrepreneurs,” Alpert said, “primarily to give them an opportunity to meet one another, to network with one another, and then also to have the opportunity to present what they’re building to the community through short elevator pitches.”

Thirty startups and 100 audience members, ranging from students to local investors, have RSVP’d to the event so far, according to Alpert. Startups can register for the event through the website.

Some participating entrepreneurs will win a spot in Startup Week’s “Lively Pitch” event. Most of the 20 slots for the event have been filled, but businesses yet to make the cut will have an opportunity to land the last few spots through Startup Night.

Events similar to Startup Night played an essential role in launching, according to Alpert.

“We actually met our first significant investor at a coffee networking event over at Olgas, which is now Seven Stars,” Alpert said, “and I never would have met them if someone hadn’t created the space for us to meet and mingle.”

The startup, which Alpert launched in 2017, connects college students with paid freelancing opportunities. Since that time, the startup has raised $3 million.

“In the past year, I think we’ve demonstrated that you can build a tech startup anywhere,” Alpert said. “You don’t have to be in San Francisco, you don’t have to be in New York. You can do it in a place like Providence.”

Correction: A previous version of this story contained a misspelling of the name of the software development and consulting service The Mullings Group in paragraph eight.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at

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