Just back from buisiness incubator Betaspring's 2012 Spring Launch Day in their new, loft-space offices on Chestnut Street, right down the street from Phoenix HQ. And it was enough to give you some hope for the economic future of our fair city (full disclosure: one of Betaspring's principals, Owen Johnson, is my wife's cousin).
Launch Day is what you might guess it is: a chance for the new, tech-focused companies Betapsring is incubating to make their pitches to a room full of investors, media types, and the like. And they are a nifty bunch.
Splitwise, co-founded by rocket scientist and newly minted Forbes 30 Under 30 COO Jonathan Bittner, wlll help you split expenses with roommates straight up or calculate a fair divvying up of the rent based on, say, room size and how nice your windows are. And the company's "fairness" expertise opens up all kinds of possibilities. Ezra Klein of the Wsahington Post recently gave a shout-out to a tax fairness tool the firm has built
Lessonwriter helps teachers spit out instant lessons on news articles and the like. Thumbs Up looks to make TV social - users of the Thumbs Up app share favorite moments of TV in real time; the company can then take the intel and sell it to interested networks and advertisers. And Movable Code is developing a big multiplayer game, played in the real world with smart phones and bluetooth wands.
They won't all succeed. They won't all stay in Providence. But the companies, pitching their products in a district once dominated by jewelry makers, are a glimpse of what could be.