When most people talk about the best elements of Rhode Island, its premier higher learning institutions are always one of the first things mentioned.

In this piece, we’ve rounded up some of the student-led startups that we’ve covered since our inception last summer. They could be enterprises inspired during their founders’ stint in college, or they could be under the leadership of students still enrolled in school.

Finally, as the new semester kicks off, we want to encourage entrepreneurs of any age to utilize the resources schools like Bryant, RISD, Brown and more have at their disposal. Unsure where to begin? Check out our (Eternal) Student’s Guide to Entrepreneurial Education in Rhode Island, a resource that makes understanding the landscape easier.


Founders: Clemens Grave and Richard McDonald
School: Brown University
Sounding Off: “With Finnest, ‘the key value is future orientating,’ McDonald said. ‘We don’t want to change the world, but instead make financial literacy in the U.S. increase, and help kids grow up a little further from this consumer driver approach [where everyone] finances everything on loans. It’s about long term thinking earlier. Everything is instant today.'”

PRIME Grads Develop Educational Money App, Card for Kids


Founders: Ethan Binder, Zura Mestiashvili and Erik Laucks
School: Lafayette College (While Lafayette is in Pennsylvania, Binder is a Rhode Islander whose product is currently operating at local universities.)
Sounding Off: “The mission for GoPeer then became clear: to ‘help students get those grades in the courses that they are passionate about, so they can follow what they love,’ Binder said.”

Meet the Student Founders of RI’s Newest EdTech Startup

The Gratitude Guys

Founders: Bradley Adams and James Imrie
School: Bryant University
Sounding Off: “It’s more than the logistics. Success is measured by the amount of people we can help find gratitude in their lives.”

These Former Bryant Students Want to Help You Stay Grateful All Year Long

Healthy Roots Dolls

Founder: Yelitsa Jean-Charles
School: Rhode Island School of Design
Sounding Off: “It wasn’t until Jean-Charles’ junior year, and her participation in the Brown Social Innovation Fellowship and RISD’s E’Ship program, that things started to get measurably underway. She developed her first doll’s prototype for a class, using Sculpey, aluminum foil and a wig. ‘It was honestly as close to a [minimum viable product] as you can get,’ she said. ‘In the process of creating it, I kept in mind the fact that my goal is to represent features that black women are often taught to hate. That’s when I started fleshing out the other characters.'”

Healthy Roots Dolls Wants Girls of Color to See Themselves in Playtime

Lady Project

Founders: Sierra Barter and Julie Sygiel
School:  Johnson & Wales University (Barter) and Brown University (Sygiel)
Sounding Off: “‘If the Lady Project existed in New York City, I don’t think the mayor would come to our events,’ Barter said. ‘Here, he comes to every event … [and it] gives us a layer of legitimacy that we would not be able to get to in other cities.'”

‘You’re My People’: Lady Project Continues to Make Room at the Table


Founders: Adam Alpert, John Tambunting and Isaac Zussman
School: Brown University
Sounding Off: “’Over 40 million Americans have a side job; we want to [engage them all] eventually,’ Alpert said. For now, keeping the audience local and college-age is ideal. Students are, after all, ‘highly connected, underemployed, [and] densely populated.'”

Brown Students Unveil Pangea, a Coed Peer-to-Peer Marketplace (For Now)


Founder: Dan Aziz
School: Brown University
Sounding Off: “‘We have taken this approach of being very innovative and very attune to what customers want and need, focused on the pre- and post-natal market products.'”

How This Prenatal Vitamin Startup has Achieved Fast-Paced Growth


Founder: Albie Brown
School: Brown University
Sounding Off: “‘We work with a few non-profits and businesses who have extra space in their parking lots,’ Brown said. ‘So it’s a great way for businesses to just add another revenue stream.’”

Local Startup Spotter Wants to Be ‘The Airbnb for Driveways’

Bonus: Rhode Island Schools in the News