Despite challenges, startups can find investors to grow in Rhode Island

Dr. Rajiv Kumar and Dr. Brad Weinberg molded the idea for what became known as ShapeUp while earning their medical degrees at Brown University in the early 2000s.

The startup, focused on encouraging healthy life habits, proved lucrative and last year was sold to Massachusetts-based Virgin Pulse Inc., an arm of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. The company subsequently announced a plan to bring 300 new jobs to Rhode Island over the next five years.

“When Virgin Pulse bought ShapeUp, the worst-kept secret among business leaders was that they were looking to move north to Boston,” said Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, who held a press conference to announce the new jobs last year. “[But] instead of losing 65 good-paying jobs to Boston, we’re going to create nearly 300.”

The homegrown success story received a shower of praise from the state’s top elected official and political operatives, as it fits nicely into Raimondo’s economic-development agenda aimed at growing jobs. But taking ShapeUp from idea to acquisition wasn’t simple, and like most Rhode Island startups it had little to do with the state’s involvement, but rather its own ability to raise money.

Read the full story at Providence Business News here.

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