With Boston and New York City right nearby, it’s easy to understand why Rhode Island is often overlooked by startups looking for a home.
But if you ask John Rourke and Dan Ferranti, the respective CEO and CTO of the fintech company Starburst Labs, people simply don’t know what they are missing.
“We found Rhode Island to be rich in talent of all kinds when building our company,” Rourke told Rhode Island Inno. “It’s a better lifestyle for a startup company in Providence, with shorter commutes and a variety of lifestyle opportunities as well.”
Starburst Labs was born in New York City. The company currently has four different fintech apps, including its flagship product Wealthbox CRM, a customer relationship management platform for financial advisors.
This platform is integrated with another of the company’s apps, Wealthbase, which is a multimedia question-and-answer platform connecting financial advisors and consumers.
“Providence had tremendous tech talent.”
The other two products are InvestorSay, a vertical social network for investors, and PaperTrade.io, a simulated stock trading platform for financial brands and publishers to offer their site visitors.
Early in 2017, Starburst Labs secured 3,500 square feet of beautifully lit, airy office space at 86 Weybosset Street in the heart of downtown Providence. 20 of its 28 employees now work out of the space.
There were plenty of obvious reasons to choose the Ocean State — both Ferranti and Rourke are natives, Ferranti’s family is based there, the rent was cheaper, the area boasted great summers with tons of beaches nearby and excellent food in Providence, to name a few.
But both Rourke and Ferranti found that Rhode Island, and the strong computer science departments at Brown University and University of Rhode Island, had as much to offer in terms of engineering talent as those in Boston and New York City.
“There were engineers making the commute to Boston and not a ton of modern companies in Providence that were a great opportunity for them,” said Ferranti.
“Boston to North Carolina is full of great corridors, but here in New York City, people come and go a little easier, and it is a little bit more competitive labor market,” added Rourke. “Providence had tremendous tech talent.”
Other fintech companies soon began taking notice.
Shortly after Starburst Labs announced the opening of its office, eMoney Advisors, an interactive platform for financial advisors and their clients that is owned by Fidelity, decided to open an office in Providence and hire 100 people.
Other fintech companies such as Upserve, a one-stop shop restaurant management platform that provides payment processing, point of sale and insights to boost margins, have also chosen Providence as its home.
“We are real optimistic about startup and fintech scene in Providence,” said Rourke. “Other companies will look to the area to grow their operations.”