With one tap of his smartphone, Judd Rosenblatt, a recent Yale University grad and co-founder of Crunchbutton, put a huge smile on the face of U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse when he was able to deliver the senator’s favorite sandwich – the falafel. He did it by using a service he and a group of others at Yale created called One Button Wenzel, later launched as Crunchbutton.
Rosenblatt was one of 13 startups who had 30 seconds to pitch his business to a crowded room of potential investors, partners and customers Thursday night at Betaspring, a Providence, R.I.-based accelerator program for technology and design entrepreneurs. Rosenblatt, along Yale seniors and twin brothers Cameron and Christopher Musco as well as Yale grad Steve Winter, created One Button Wenzel, which sold more than $50,000 of one kind of sandwich at Yale. Now Rosenblatt and co-founders David Clump and Devin Smith have relaunched the service under Crunchbutton and made it availabe in Providence.
Crunchbutton, along with the dozen other startups, will go through an intensive, 12-week accelerator program at Betaspring. Companies receive seed capital, workspace and access to Betaspring’s alumni and mentor network. In turn, Betaspring takes 6-10 percent equity in the business.
Of the 44 startups who have finished the program since, 20 are in Providence and are succeeding and others are located in New York, Florida and California, according to Betaspring Chief of Staff Melissa Withers. Founded in 2009, Betaspring has included 57 companies with more than $20 million in capital raised.
While the point is to help accelerate the businesses, not all will succeed. Some ideas will fail and others will garner large sums of investments, according to Saul Kaplan, founder ofBusiness Innovation Factory, a nonprofit that brings together public and private businesses and organizations to work together. The point, however, he said is that the energy and passion displayed at Betaspring’s Open House is exactly what the Ocean State needs and should be a way of life, Kaplan said. “We want to encourage entrepreneurial behavior as a lifestyle,” he said. “We need positive examples and Betaspring is a home run.”