Saturday, November 21, 2020


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The Rhode Island Business Competition’s Elevator Pitch Contest drew more than 30 presenters on Thursday night in virtual presentations.  Presenters pitched a wide range of business ideas focused on healthcare, food, beauty products, clothing, apps, and even a smart mirror to name a few.  In spite of the economic climate due to the pandemic, these entrepreneurs are striving to develop and launch unique businesses that will foster future economic development in the State of Rhode Island.

The winner was Ceresonic’s Sam Hornstein, a Brown University student, who proposed a technology to provide a cheaper and safer method for treating Alzheimer’s Disease. His company has a letter of intent to license a patented technology from Columbia University which uses ultrasound to locate openings in the brain vasculature which will reduce the difficulty of Alzheimer’s drugs entering the brain. This device can be used with a variety of drugs and therapeutics providing doctors the flexibility they need to effectively treat this disease.

Second place went to Trisha Ballakur, founder of Pointz and a student at Brown University.  Her mobile app is for bike and scooter (micromobility) riders that provides a reliable and quieter route.  Powered by expert crafted quiet networks and community crowdsourcing, this app steers riders through roads that avoid high traffic routes.

Third place was a tie between two startups:

– Diana Perkins of Providence is the owner of includesign which has developed LapSnap, a multipurpose shopping basket/carryall designed with and for wheelchair users.

– Mark Gad, a Brown University student, pitched ThrombTent Innovations, a novel peptide technology that provides a rapid and sensitive way to detect blood clot formation.

The fifth place winner was Brown University student, Andrea Lu, who has developed AlteraGel, a patented hydrogel technology that can be altered to fit a patient’s specific needs to more effectively treat burn wounds.

“It was wonderful to have such a wide array of presenters who were willing to pitch their business idea virtually to an audience of 70+ strangers.  It is a testament to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in this State that despite the hardships they face due to Covid these entrepreneurs are persevering and I am confident they will be successful in their businesses,” said Anthony Mangiarelli, partner at KLR who served as MC for the event.  “The presenters as well as the audience learned a lot from the judges who asked compelling questions and gave constructive feedback on their presentations.”


Judges for the contest were:

Tuni Schartner, Executive Director, Venture Café and District Hall Providence

Brian Spero, President & CEO, The Beacon Mutual Insurance Co.

Annette Tonti, Managing Director, RIHub

Sponsors of the 2021 Rhode Island Business Competition

The Rhode Island Business Competition aims to create and foster growth companies in Rhode Island that will increase local employment. This non-profit is supported by a broad range of sponsors that include private businesses, investors, foundations, colleges and universities, public entities, nonprofit organizations, and former competitors. Today, it is one of the leading community-supported business plan competition in the Northeast. The Competition encourages plans for new businesses, as well as from early stage companies.

Applications for the Rhode Island Business Competition 2021 will open on January 6th.  The Business Plan workshop will be held virtually on Thursday, January 7th from 5:00-7:00 pm.  Details for both can be found at



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