Innovative Food Distribution: Zaycon Foods

Zaycon Foods has set up meat distribution from producers directly to consumers, bypassing all the warehousing time and expense that occurs in traditional grocery models. Seems like a great model for New England, though they aren't active here currently, perhaps for regulation reasons.

Here's a great summary from Braden Kelley who blogs at Business Strategy Innovation.

Like a blast from the past, when neighbors used to get together and buy a side of beef together and have a butcher carve it up so they could stash it in their respective freezers, Zaycon Foods has come along with a business model innovation and introduced a Farm->Truck->You food distribution system for some types of meat and produce, bypassing several layers of warehousing, truck shipment, and unnecessary waiting time.

Design "Clambake" on April 24th

DESIGNxRI presents Clambake - a monthly gathering for RI's design and entrepreneurial community. In partnership with AIGA Rhode Island, and Rally Rhode Island, we bring you two presenters from various design disciplines, with socializing, wine/beer, and food trucks.

At Aurora, on Westminster St. in Downtown Providence...

Meet This Month's Clambake Presenters


Brian Gross

Owner and Creative Partner, Nail Communications

Having won pretty much all of the industry’s important awards (One Show, Communications Arts, Clio, Hatch, Effie, Jay Chiat), Brian no longer needs to use long hair to demonstrate his creativity. One of NAIL’s founding partners,Brian has helped it grow from two guys and some borrowed computers to a multi-national holding company with over 34,000 employees. OK, not quite yet, but he has led nail to 14 straight years as Rhode Island’s leading agency at the Hatch Awards for Creative Excellence. But what really drives Brian is watching the effect that great creative could have on a business – whether it was helping a small family blanket company grow into a $120 million powerhouse or by reviving a 70 year old candy brand by breaking them up. Over the 23 years of his career, Domino’s Pizza, Kool-Aid, Vibram Five Fingers, Mike & Ike, Vail Resort, Polartec and Gore-Tex are just a few of the brands lucky enough to have had his hand in their development. Brian graduated with a BS in advertising from the School of Visual Arts in New York, NY.

Justin Sirotin

Founder, Mars MadeOCTO Product Development 

Justin Sirotin has spent his 16 year Industrial Design career developing successful products for multinational brands and start-ups alike. In working with clients as diverse as Focal Upright Furniture, Johnson and Johnson, Titleist, and Hexagon Metrology, Justin has developed a unique perspective on the complete process for developing products in a wide array of product categories. This background led him to start OCTO Product Development, a unique product development firm capable of delivering highly individualized design and engineering services to companies of all sizes. In 2007 Justin founded Mars Made, a modern game table furniture company designing and manufacturing built-to-order pool tables, foosball tables and other classic games in Pawtucket, RI. In addition, Justin has been an adjunct faculty member at RISD since 2008 where he leverages his experiences to teach the Manufacturing Techniques course in the Industrial Design Department.
Prior to forming OCTO and Mars Made, Justin worked as the General Manager for Item New Product Development (now Ximedica), a product development and manufacturing firm in Providence, RI. Justin holds a BFA in Industrial Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

The New Food Economy

This month, Mim Runey, President of Johnson and Wales Providence, laid down some good ink in the Projo outlining how the food economy in Rhode Island is an under-leveraged opportunity for creating economic growth in Rhode Island. In a state smaller than many counties, it's no joke that the food sector--from eateries to packaged food makers--generates well over a billion dollars each year.  And it's not just our amazing restaurants making waves: from artisanal cheese to the country's largest distributor of natural foods, Rhode Island is fertile ground for food innovators who are taking food--in all its forms--to the next level. 

Mim writes: "Research has demonstrated the opportunities for urban areas to catalyze job growth and economic expansion through the food sector. Cities are home to major purchasers and dense, diverse populations; under-utilized land that can be adapted for basic manufacturing and distribution, and large workforces needing entry-level jobs with potential for advancement. The food cluster can thrive and play a central role in any city, but it is often overlooked by urban economic development planners."

It's good news given this exciting prospect for growth that Mim and her colleagues at JWU are working with industry and government to devise new ideas for accelerating connectedness and growth in the sector.  Mim sums up the outcome succinctly:  "A thriving food cluster will have an enormous impact on the economy in Providence and the State of Rhode Island."

We couldn't agree more! RallyRI believes that RI is a hub of food innovation and should be nationally known as THE place to start and grow food startups. RallyRI is collaborating with local and regional leaders in food to showcase our existing assets and successes, create an energized food innovation community, and define new infrastructure that will help more food entrepreneurs to start and grow. This fall, we kicked off our work with  FoodForward, an exhibition at Waterfire that featured Rhode Island's most ambitious food innovators. Thousands of visitors had an opportunity to sample treats, learn more about the lesser known parts of Rhode Island's growing food economy, and meet the mavericks who make Rhode Island THE place for food innovation.

There's lots of work to be done to ready the ground for a rapid expansion of our food sector, but we're optimistic given the amazing talent that's driving this idea forward.

Clambake Returns for December-With Jessica Ricci and Kurt Snell

Clambake, a vibrant monthly gathering for local designers and design-enthusiasts, is coming to Betaspring this December. This month, we'll hear from Jessica Ricci, the force behind the awesomely international Jessica Ricci Jewelry, and Kurt Snell, a local artist, designer and woodworker. We're also excited to announce that DESIGNxRI is now taking on Clambake! DESIGNxRI is a new force for good in our design community, working to help improve economic development, collaboration, and communication around all things creative in Rhode Island.

We'll also have drinks, food and a chance for socializing amongst the Providence design community. The event is free, but you must RSVP--before tickets are gone!

Click here to register

About the Presenters:

Jessica Ricci

As the founder and designer behind Jessica Ricci Jewelry, Jessica spends countless hours scouring the continents, finding objects with past lives and translating them into jewelry for each of her rich, unique collections. Jessica’s inspirations take her from Paris to Mumbai, San Francisco to Nepal, in search of the markets, bazaars and far off worlds that feed her curiosity and nurture her creativity. Ricci draws upon her experiences as a journalist, teacher, world-traveler and artist to create beautiful, hand-crafted designs that are anchored in symbolism, history and sentimentality.

Kurt Snell

Kurt Snell (BA University of Arizona, 2005) is an artist, designer, and woodworker living in Providence, Rhode Island. After establishing himself as a prominent 2D artist showing his work all over the southwest, and becoming desperate for the cold and calculating attitude of his native New England, Kurt moved to Providence in 2009 to work as a display artist for Urban Outfitters, quickly becoming a part of Urban's design-build travel team. Kurt travels all over the country to plan and execute large-scale custom art installations at retail locations. His current work is the natural merger of his trainings in art, design, and building. It exhibits an artistic functionality inspired by his surrounding environment.

Local Guitar Maker Otto D’Ambrosio featured in RIPBS Documentary!

You may remember Guitar crafter Otto D'Ambrosio from his incredibly successful show at RISD's Artist Entrepreneur, Entrepreneur Artist Show in September. If not, you've got a chance to catch the luthier in action this Wednesday at 10:30 pm when he'll be featured in a documentary. Check out the full coverage from the Projo here.

From the Projo-

"Learn about music-making from a different perspective. “Guitar #1711,” a documentary from Providence filmmaker Guy Benoit, is making its way to RIPBS, Channel 36. The short film, which screened last August at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, follows fellow Rhode Islander Otto D'Ambrosio as he crafts, from start to finish over 206 days, an acoustic archtop guitar for jazz guitarist and Berklee College of Music instructor Julian Lage. The film concludes with a live concert performance by Lage, playing guitar #1711.

The film airs Wednesday at 10:30 p.m."

EdTechRI Returns for 2nd Meetup!

Join us on November 19th for our 2nd Educator and Entrepreneur Meetup of the 2013/2014 school year. We will have six Edtech companies joining us to present and share their products. 

What is an EdTechRI Meetup?  

Rhode Island is buzzing with Edtech and Blended Learning excitement. Our state is taking the lead in a lot of exciting ways with high performing teachers who are creating new and innovative ways to implement education technology in their classrooms.
Rhode Island teachers are at the forefront of edcuational innovation and they love meeting and working with EdTech entreprenuers who are breaking new ground developing tools to empower teachers, admins, and schools to move farther faster!
Since November 2012 the Highlander Institute has been convening educators from RI and entrepreneurs from across the country to talk about the edtech field, to observe new tools, and to give each other feedback on how these tools could be enhanced or improved to meet classroom needs.

The event will be held at Founders League on 95 Chestnut Street. Click here to register.

Join us for Food, Drinks and Edtech! 
Join on Tuesday, November 19th between 4 and 6:30pm as we mingle, listen, share, and discuss the future of technology in our classrooms and schools. The evening's agenda will look like this:
4 - 4:30pm: Mingling with free beer, wine and food (Courtesy of RallyRI and the Founder's League)
4:30 - 5pm: Each company has three minutes to present their product or concept
5 - 6pm: Educators move between company tables exploring new products and offering feedback to entrepreneurs.
6 - 6:15pm: Closing and Raffle

Here is a list of this month's participating companies:


NBA Math Hoops is a fast-paced basketball board game and mobile application in which students apply fundamental math skills to competitive game play, learning through direct engagement with the statistics of their favorite NBA and WNBA players. NBA Math Hoops is created and distributed by Learn Fresh Education Co., in association with NBA Cares.


Movide is a free and open source student-centric learning platform that enables students to collaborate, interact, and measure their progress.


Students using Quill learn English grammar by writing sentences and proofreading passages. Quill is a completely free tool and features 30 Common Core lessons covering grades 1-8. 

Providence Welcomes Artifact Conference

This week, Providence has the pleasure of hosting Artifact Conference 2013, a digital design extravaganza with a heavy focus on responsive web design. Confronted by what Artifact co-founder Jennifer Robbins calls an “avalanche of mobile,” designers across the globe face the challenge of “designing for a multi-device world.” To deal with this challenge, many have begun turning to responsive design, which allows designers to create website and applications that automatically resize based on the device’s screen size. The term was coined in 2010 by Ethan Marcotte, who delivered a keynote presentation at Artifact Conference on Tuesday.

Designers just being...Designers

This week’s conference is Artifact’s second, coming on the heels of a hugely successful inauguration in Austin during May of this year. Artifact came to be when co-founder Jennifer Robbins realized there wasn’t a web design conference that paired high level design thinking with technical workshops. After exchanging some tweets with fellow designer and soon to be co-founder Christopher Schmitt, the pair got to work. While crafting the curriculum, the duo felt it incredibly important to deliver a great experience. To this end, the conference is all single track--all the participants see the same talks--which helps eliminate some of the anonymity that haunts other conferences. Robbins also wanted to throw killer parties with a local flavor, and so booked up AS220 for the first night’s party, complete with print-your-own T-shirts and a local photographer manning the photobooth.

Robbins, who has lived in Providence for 13 years, wanted to share her city with the design community. She chose to locate  the conference in the beautiful Biltmore Hotel, and secured local strategy and design firm Lullabot as a gold sponsor. Jennifer even stocked the food offerings with Providence favorites: Glee Gum, Yacht Soda, and coffee milk!

It's the little things

This year’s turnout included a sizable Providence contingent, as well as professionals from around the country. In addition, the conference was attended by teams and individuals from Mexico, Canada, England and Brazil.

Jennifer Robbins was one of the first web designers in the world, launching a site in 1993, when  there were only 130 on the web. She is the author of the bestselling Web Design in a Nutshell and Learning Web Design (O'Reilly), and she has taught web design at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and Johnson and Wales University in Providence.

FoodForward Recap 4: Jules of Walrus and Carpenter Oysters

We'd love to thank Jules from Walrus and Carpenter Oysters for coming out to FoodForward last Saturday. His oyster offerings were in high demand all night--people were even lining up around the corner. We thought it'd be nice to share a bit more about Jules' delicious oysters and some photos from the event.

About Warlus and Carpenter:

Our oysters are grown in the pristine waters of Ninigret Pond, Charlestown, RI. We harvest our oysters on the day of market and sell within six hours - true farm-to-plate service. While most of our oysters can be found at top restaurants and raw bars in Rhode Island, we do offer a direct order service - if you put in your order by Wednesday, we'll harvest it on Friday and same-day deliver it to Providence for pickup. 

Jules is the owner of Walrus and Carpenter Oysters LLC - a commercial oyster farm, located in Ninigret Pond, RI which specializes in direct distribution to local high-end restaurants and the end consumer. The rest of his time is spent working as the project manager for the development of a open-space residential community in Bar Harbor, Maine.
The setup

Good to the last drop!

Jules was very popular on Saturday... you can see.

And here's why.

Thanks Jules! (Black and white photos courtesy of Tsung Hung)

FoodForward Recap 2: GO Veggie! and their delicious Cheese Alternatives at FoodForward

We had a little bit of a turf war between cheese-alternative manufacturer GO Veggie! and Narragansett Creamery at FoodForward last Saturday. Both companies make delicious cheese or cheese-alternative products, so naturally we set them up in booths facing each other. In the end, it all worked out though--both GO Veggie! and Narragansett Creamery ran out of their samples! We wanted to thank GO Veggie! for their support and show off some great pictures from the event--courtesy of Tsung Hung.

About GO Veggie!

GO Veggie!™ was launched in 2012, by Galaxy Nutritional Foods, a 25-year leader in the cheese alternative products industry, specifically for the traditional grocery store channel. GO Veggie! has two distinct product lines — GO Veggie! Lactose Free and GO Veggie! Dairy Free — which appeal to a broad spectrum of consumers including those who are lactose intolerant or simply want to improve their health by reducing their dairy and following a plant-based diet and those who want to eliminate dairy completely because of food allergy or a vegan lifestyle. Both product lines offer a variety of flavors and choices and are known for exceptional taste and melt. The two GO Veggie! product lines are sold in major supermarkets in the United States.

Browsing the GO Veggie! offerings
In for the dip!

Thanks for the help guys!