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From custom Ts to a mobile soup kitchen

A closer look at six companies
By PHILIP EIL  |  October 16, 2013


ORIGINS: Launched in 2009, began processing payments in 2012.

TEAM: 71 employees

THE ELEVATOR PITCH: By harvesting information encoded in credit- and debit-card transactions, Swipely gives offline businesses like restaurants, hair salons, and liquor stores the analytics that online businesses have come to expect: information on how frequently customers come back, how much they spend, and even how weather patterns affect sales. As of 2012, Swipely also processes credit and debit-card payments, themselves.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Rhode Island-based Swipely clients include Trinity Brewhouse, Local 121, Munroe Dairy, Nikki’s Liquors, and Alayne White Spas.



ORIGINS: Founded and launched in 2010.

TEAM: 40, with 35 of those employees in Providence.

THE ELEVATOR PITCH: Using a lightweight, flexible material known as RPT (“Reactive Protection Technology™”) that stiffens on impact, G-Form makes elbow-, knee-, and shin-pads for skateboarders, mountain bikers, and other extreme athletes. For more everyday extremists, they also make high impact-resistant smartphone cases.


In January of 2012, the company released a YouTube video in which a G-Form-padded iPad was tethered to a weather balloon that floated up 100,000 feet to the edge of space where the balloon popped and the tablet plummeted back to earth. When the iPad landed, it was unharmed. The video has been viewed just under 4,000,000 times.



ORIGINS: Founded in late 2011, launched in April 2012.

TEAM: “Around 35”

THE ELEVATOR PITCH: Teespring allows users to create custom T-shirts to that can be sold to raise money for a particular cause or group. The company handles printing and shipping and, if/when users sell enough shirts to meet their goal, they’re sent a check for the proceeds.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: You’re not going to find a more addictive startup website than, where, on the T-shirt design page, you can twiddle with fonts, colors, and thousands of icons, from American flags to guys on surfboards to fallout shelter symbols. (You can also upload your own art.) If you don’t already have a fundraising cause in mind, you’ll come up with one just for the sake of giving the process tee designing/selling/shipping process a whirl.



EMPLOYEES: “About 85.”

ORIGINS: Founded and launched in 2000.

THE ELEVATOR PITCH: Andera helps banks and credit unions acquire new customers using software that streamlines account-opening and lending processes. “Instead of filling out a stack of paper forms to open a checking account, we provide technology that enables all of that to happen on a computer or on a mobile device,” founder and CEO Charlie Kroll says.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The company’s relative longevity makes Kroll, age 35, an elder statesman on the local startup scene. He started Andera with a business plan crafted for the Brown Entrepreneurship Program’s business plan competition; now he’s chair of the BEP’s board.



ORIGINS: Founded in 2010 and launching “any day now.”

TEAM: Two full-time employees, and 17 total “teammates.”

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