Brown Team Wins Rhode Island Business Plan Competition For Fourth Straight Year

For the fourth consecutive year, a Brown student team has won the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition. This year,, led by Stephen Hebson ’12, an economics and history double concentrator, and Parker Wells ’12, a mechanical engineering concentrator, won the student track of the competition. Their plan is to produce a web app to provide a customizable stream of music for in-store use, licensing music directly from the artists and labels. They received $15,000 in cash and services valued at $24,000 for winning the competition. Winners were announced at the annual RIBX business expo at the Rhode Island Convention Center. In order to be eligible to win, applicants had to agree to establish or maintain operations in Rhode Island.

Previous Brown winners of the competition have included PriWater, now Premama, (2011), Speramus (2010), and Runa (2009). Premama ( produces a prenatal beverage supplement to help reduce birth defects. Speramus is ( an online fundraising platform that matches donors with individual support opportunities. Runa ( produces energy drinks made from the leaves of an Amazonian tree, and has been featured in the New York Times and raised over $1 million from investors and has increased distribution into Whole Foods.

Two other Brown teams, both with connections to the School of Engineering, were also named finalists at the 2012 competition. Finalists receive $5,000 in cash and services valued at between $9,000 and $11,500.

One of the finalists, JCD Wind, was from Steve Petteruti’s Entrepreneurship I class and Entrepreneurship II classes, Engineering 1930G and Engineering 1930H. JCD Wind, included James McGinn ’12, a biomedical engineering concentrator, and Carli Wiesenfeld ’12, a commerce, organizations, and entrepreneurship (COE) concentrator. The company aims to make seamless, high strength lightweight carbon fiber turbine blades. McGinn is also a member of the men’s rugby team, and Wiesenfeld is a member of the women’s gymnastics team.

The other finalist was a group of four graduate students in the Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME) master’s degree program. Solar4Cents included PRIME students Sean Pennino, Bhavuk Nagpal, Xiaotong 'Peter' Shan, and Meng 'Milo' Zhang. Solar4Cents is a manufacturing company that aims to produce low-cost, thin-film copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur solar cells for solar panel manufacturers.

Established in 2000, the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition has awarded more than $1 million in prizes since its inception.

For the official RI Business plan release on the competition, please go to:


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