Friday, October 10, 2014

Recap of Mass Innovation Nights #MIN67 - Women Founders

The Crowd Waiting for the Doors to Open at Workbar for MIN67
Women entrepreneurs, huge crowd, a big announcement,  and a live animal! What more could you want in a Mass Innovation Nights event?

Artistic Rendering of the Crowd before It Got Really Dense
Workbar was the gracious host for an evening of women founders and Babson's Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL) was a generous sponsor. The Student Startup Spotlight featured startups from the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship. Autodesk was there too, featuring a recruiting table.
Tables on the Second Floor Too
From the crowd lined up on the sidewalk waiting for the doors to open to the jam-packed tables throughout the venue, this was one busy, crowded, loud, huge event. Good on women founders for making some noise! Good on Mass Innovation Nights and BobbieC for providing the megaphone for all this great noise.

Tables were spread out over two floors and tucked away in alcoves. I knew from the get go that I wouldn't make it to every table (usually my goal at MIN) so I tried to get the most out of the ones I could get near :-) I think the only creature shorter than me at this thing was Eugene the hedgehog. :-). Did I mention the first ever live animal at MIN? Yup, Meet Eugene, the purveyor of healthy and affordable hedgehog food, actually had Eugene at the table. Sooooo cute! I learned lots about keeping a pet hedgehog and loved meeting Eugene.
I Met Eugene!
I loved ReFleece's colorful and trendy iPad cases, bags, and other products made from fleece and wool upcycled from your old jacket (recovered garments, collected through Patagonia's Common Threads Program), scraps from the cutting room floor (Woolrich, Polartec), or other odd bits and ends that couldn't be used by one or another of their partners, and, of course, plastic bottles!
On the Dot Books got my attention with a table full of well-curated books, and a wildly ambitious and brilliant plan for using books and  the arts to connect people all over the world. Passepartout is an airport-to-airport, train station-to-train station rental service for books, magazines, games, and toys - operated by local independent bookstores.  From a pop-up bookstore in Dot 2 Dot Cafe to networking the world through books! Using indie bookstores to connect the world! Looking forward to hearing more from them as the network develops.

Books of Dorchester
The team from WeGush was probably the most enthusiastic and assertive group of women in the house. It was impossible to miss them unleashing gratitude all over the place.  How do you productize gratitude? Simply put,  WeGush makes it easy (and fun) for a group to express their appreciation for someone special -- a retiree, a coach, a teacher, a BobbieC -- by posting messages to virtual appreciation wall boards. Yup, they worked a surprise live appreciation of BobbieC into their presentation (confession, I knew about this in advance).

WeGush Team Leaning In
The chosen presenters were WeGush, Booze Epoque, Orora Global, and Secret Ships Caravan, an impressive lineup. Gratitude, craft cocktails from local produce, electricity for rural communities, and a mobile boutique -- a typical MIN lineup if ever there was one.

Orora Global made the biggest impression on me: renewable, off-the-grid, energy solutions for places with unreliable or no power AND empowering women micro-entrepreneurs in those places. Oh yea, state of the art technology too. It was no surprise that they won the American Airlines Business Extra Points fan favorite voting. They'll be using the points for an upcoming trip to India. You go, girls!

The other Business Extra Points winners were Secret Ships Caravan, ReFleece, and BoozeEpoque.  All of them made big impressions with attendees. Booze Epoque served samples of their craft cocktails. Those who partake of such beverages gave good reviews. It is pretty cool that they use beets and other wonderful vegetables from local farms, like my personal favorite Mill City Grows (speaking of women founders -- Yay Lydia and Francey!), to make party beverages.  Secret Ships Caravan added the most color to the presentations with slides of their beautiful textiles from all over the world. They also issued a call to action for the City of Boston to get a permitting process up and running to allow retail trucks. If you want retail trucks like Secret Ships Caravan in Boston, tweet about it with the hashtag  #WeWantRetailTrucks.

Business Extra Points Winners Posing for Photographer
But wait, there's more! MIN Founder Bobbie Carlton announced a new initiative called Innovation Women. It's a much needed solution to the problem of getting more visibility for technical and entrepreneurial women. Innovation Women's speakers bureau will help event managers find awesome panelists and help women entrepreneurs get in front of the right audiences.  Follow @WomenInno on Twitter to watch this develop.

Crowd Listening and Tweeting
Between the crowd and the noise, I was a little overwhelmed so didn't take as many interesting photos as I usually do. I have been working on my crowd photos, but am beginning to think I should get me a drone and a GoPro for that purpose. I did get a couple of shots that convey the density and diversity of the crowd. It was quite an intense, lively, and amazing event.  Another home run by Mass Innovation Nights.

For the closing shot, here's an attempt to convey how loud and crowded it was:


Friday, September 26, 2014

Good People of Lowell

Two of my photos of the poets and artists of Lowell were selected for this show at the Zeitgeist Gallery, which features residents of Lowell in and around the city. Looks like I'm in some good company too. I can't wait to see the other photographers' work. Come check it out Oct 2- 26.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mass Innovation Nights #MIN66 Recap

The MIN Crowd Mingling and Enjoying Pizza Provided by Cummings
Wednesday's Mass Innovation Night number 66 featured another great lineup of products and a great space provided by Cummings. Oh, and they provided pizza. Thanks, Cummings! So besides pizza and a great space, the event featured a wide-ranging assortment of products. The diversity of innovation showcased at Mass Innovation Nights is always amazing to me.
Northeastern Entrepreneur Lamar Talking About  Hydrolite
The new Student Startup Spotlight featured a couple of entrepreneurs from Northeastern's IDEA program: Hydrolite, a vitamin water,  and Genius Box, a program that delivers a monthly package of STEM activities to homes.  I especially liked Genius Box because the activities boxes had definite budding scientist appeal (the Girl Scientists would have loved these kits when they were young scientist wannabes).
Genius Box Full Of Cool Stuff
TechBootCamps's table was attracting lots of attention for its 8-week program to turn you into a Drupal developer.
Who wouldn't want to invest 8 weeks to qualify for a $92K-$95K per year job?
The 3D scanner from Dot Product attracted a big crowd too.  Imagine turning your tablet into a device that gives you the ability to capture the real world in 3D, with accurate measurements and all, while you're out there in the real world. This definitely takes 3D modeling to another level.
Dot Product
I moved from 3D modeling to online dating with just a few steps over to Ken from Jess, Meet Ken. We all know great guys who'd be fantastic for one of our girlfriends, but not for us, right? The old fashioned fix-up meets technology!
he crowd was so into checking out the tables, that it was hard to round everybody up to go upstairs for the presentations. Everyone seemed to be having a seriously good time.
The 4 chosen presenters were:
  • Energy Harvesters' Walking Charger
  • The Metropolitan from Upstanding Designs
  • JenytaMarket
  • Vsnap
JenytaMarket talked about their cloud-based e-procurement process management product. It allows buyers and suppliers to collaborate in real-time.
Jenyta Presenting
Energy Harvesters Sherry Handel
Walking Charger from Energy Harvesters  is easily the coolest thing of the night. I'd seen Sherry Handel talk about it before at the Merrimack Valley Sandbox Summit in June.  Just think of it, you can charge your smartphone battery by walking for just a single hour wearing the Walking Charger. I definitely want that embedded in my hiking boots.
Dave Talking Vsnap
Speaking of products I'd heard about before, it was great to see how Vsnap has evolved since I first encountered them at MIN30. Wow, that was awhile back! Love the emphasis on how enterprises can make their customers feel valued by sending quick, personal video messages.  And there's real-time analytics too! Still a neat idea.
Upstanding Designs
Sitting at a desk all day at work is not good for you. Upstanding Designs makes a line of adjustable height furniture for corporate and home offices. Whose office wouldn't be better with stylish and well-crafted adjustable furniture? The Metropolitan is a big improvement over the other clunky stand-up desks that are out there now.

The winners of the American Airlines Business Extra points were:
  •  Lubax (mobile app for skin disease identification)
  •  Dot Product
  •  Upstanding Designs - The Metropolitan
  • Top prize: Energy Harvester's Walking Charger
There was no "Experts Corner" so instead of an "Expert Looking Expert", here's the Best Prop of MIN66.

Orange Tennis Balls To Match The Orange Laptop

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Entrepreneurship for All Summer Accelerator Awards Recap

A Logo and a Mission Statement in One
Tuesday night's celebration of the summer accelerator program participants was also the official announcement of the name change from Merrimack Valley Sandbox to Entrepreneurship for All so it was a doubly exciting event. The product showcase was a great opportunity to catch up with all the finalists, most of whom I have seen at more than one pitch contest or event. I'm truly impressed with how all of the finalists have benefited from the program and taken their products and their pitches to the next level.

Huge Crowd
There was a huge crowd at the Everett Mill for the event and things were bustling around the product showcase tables and the food table. BTW, the stuffed mushrooms were delicious.

Delicious Appetizers
The new name and logo was everywhere, so by the time David Parker began the opening remarks, he could be sure everyone already knew what the highly anticipated "big announcement" was.  It's an exciting change that really puts the organization's mission and philosophy front and center. Entrepreneurship for All is the heart and soul of what drives the organization.

David Parker Welcoming Us
Marianne Paley, the owner of Everett Mills, welcomed us to the historic building, now a growing business center right in the heart of downtown Lawrence. If the name Everett Mills sounds familiar to you, it's because something really important happened here in 1912. In fact we just had a festival on Campagnone Common on Labor Day to commemorate that event.  It's kind of amazing to think of the changes this old building has witnessed.

Our Host Marianne Paley, Owner of Everett Mills
Deshpande Foundation co-founder, Desh Deshpande, congratulated the finalists and  introduced the keynote speaker, Gerald Chertavian. Deshpande is always inspiring even in short introductory remarks.

Desh Deshpande
Gerald Chertavian spoke passionately about the importance of entrepreneurship to job creation and of social enterprise and shared responsibility. Chertavian grew up in Lowell, graduated from Harvard Business School, and made a career on Wall Street before turning his attention to addressing America's opportunity gap by founding Year Up. Year Up teaches young people the skills they need to move into the professional work force. Poverty to professional career in a year!

Keynote Speaker - Gerald Chertavian, Founder and CEO of Year UP
Veronica Chapman of My Crowning Jewel gave the class address. I'm starting to feel like Veronica is becoming an old friend because I've watched her pitch her stunning head wraps at various events since #MIN46 (that was like 20 Mass Innovation Nights ago!)

Veronica Chapman
Each of the finalists got to do a 1-minute pitch and it was amazing to hear the diversity of their enterprises and the polish of the their pitches. Well done!

EforAll Finalists
This awards celebration featured the first Christina Hamilton Award. I started to tear up when Christina's family came forward to present the award to Michael Bertrand of Edible Land Designs. Christina was the Founder of Delightful Surprise Sweets, a Lowell-based venture that sold delicious fudge in many different flavors. Christina was a participant in the 2014 winter accelerator program , who passed away suddenly in February. Christina was one of the most determined and inspiring entrepreneurs I have met, and it is a wonderful thing that EforAll has established this award in her memory. The Christina Hamilton Award will be presented to one participant in every future accelerator class who exemplifies her characteristics of grit and determination. You can read a bit more about Christina and this award on the EforAll website.

Christina Hamilton's Family Ready to Present the Christina Hamilton Award in Her Memory
Besides giving an inspiring speech, Veronica Chapman was one of the $5000 award winners.

Veronica Chapman
Other winners were Leanne Tremblay of Loomination, Nkese Applewhite of Oshun Undies,  Nareth Muong of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association's (CMAA) translation service,  the UMass Lowell Support our Students program, and Brian Dutton from Asinine Games who won the $1000 MassDiGi award.

Nareth Muong
Mai Le Libman  and Sagi Yaacoby of Savione, a platform that makes it easy to shop local, won the largest prize, $7000.  I remember being impressed with Savione back in April at the all ideas pitch contest.

Mai Le of Savione
It was great to see Sovanna Pouv, the new Executive Director of CMAA and long time supporter of  Entrepreneurship for All. Sovanna and Visal posed with Nareth and his big check.

I ran into so many people I know at this event that I am truly beginning to believe I'm not that bad at networking after all. :-)

Oh, and the moon peeked out from behind the clouds briefly just as I left the Everett Mill. Nice night.

Moon Peeking Through the Clouds over Lawrence

Monday, July 14, 2014

Did you miss last month's Sandbox Summit?

Governor Deval Patrick Conversing with Summit Attendees

Did you miss the the Sandbox Summit? Catch up on what you missed with the official recap from Merrimack Valley Sandbox. You might even spot the back of my head in some of the photos.

You can read my own recap too:
Day 1 Recap
Day 2 Recap Part A

Somehow I haven't gotten to writing "Part B" of Day 2 yet.  The endless waterfall of stuff to do  has a way of taking over the time for multi-part blog posts. :-)

Friday, July 11, 2014

#MIN64 Recap

A health innovation theme and a health innovation oriented host made for a wonderful Mass Innovation Night on Wednesday at athenahealth in the Watertown Arsenal. The crowd was fairly large and the big space accommodated it easily with a central spot for the presentations and "wings" on either side for product tables and experts.
Crowd Listening to Presentations
Highly appropriate to the Watertown location near the River Charles, Charles River Rowing League had a table promoting team-building, networking, and stress reduction through rowing. The Charles River Rowing League (CRRL) brings together expert coaching and world-class equipment to provide local companies with a four-week rowing program. It sounds like a fun way for your work teams to unwind while learning a new sport.
Charles River Rowing League
Old friends from #MIN62 and the recent #PINSMASS01, Gentoo, were there with the Gentoo Vest, a light compression undergarment that helps you manage outpatient infusion equipment and still live your normal life. What else can I say about this that I haven't already said in my previous blog posts? This is a seriously brilliant product. It's several orders of magnitude better than carrying the infusion pump around in a backpack with plastic tubes dangling.
Chris from Gentoo at their Table
Ben from Gentoo Presenting
Know My Patient from Nightingale Apps  helps nurses get to know their patients quickly and  helps them manage info about multiple patients to improve their work flow and deliver safe, efficient,  patient-centered care.
Discussing Know My Patient
Making Care Easier makes it easier for families to manage caring for an elderly family member. It helps everyone take an active part in caring. You can find out how to provide better care for your dad or mom, figure out ways your "care team" can help even if they're in other states. It's all online and you can organize everything from rides to the doctor to buying new shoes from wherever you are - at home, at the office, or on the road.

Making Care Easier

Making Care Easier Presenting
Medstro is a social network for physicians and medical students, giving them a place where they can  interact in a community of their peers. That way they can discuss the latest medical innovations and things they wouldn't want to share with a wider non-specialized network.
Discussing Medstro
It was great to see Cynthia and Maeve from  Increment again.  They were at the Sandbox Summit, at the wonderful Merrimack Valley Sandbox All Ideas Pitch Contest in Lawrence (where kids started spontaneously playing with the O-Rings), and the Merrimack Valley Sandbox Consumer Ideas Pitch Contest in Lowell, to mention a few. They know how to get their O-Rings toys for all kids noticed.  O-Rings are sensory learning playthings that foster developmental skills. Basically, they are four stackable rings of incremental sizes, each with  a different texture, color, density, and filling. This provides opportunities for kids to learn about materials, weights, sounds and colors and stimulate the senses, without even realizing they are learning. Kids just spontaneously start playing with them. Actually, so do adults at Mass Innovation Nights. Increment expects the O-Rings to be in production in December. You can pre-order O-Rings at
Liam Trying Out an O-Ring and Wearing "Best Hat" and "Best Prop" of #MIN64

Increment = Top Vote Getters of #MIN64!
One of the more intriguing innovations was Remembrance - Alzheimer Film Therapy. The films are designed to reduce anxiety levels in dementia patients by creating a relaxing environment using scene selection, music and chronotherapy.
Listening to Remembrance Story
SlingAmp is a non-electronic amplifier stand for iPad and other tablets. The curved shape acts as an amplifier and helps hold up the device. It's a simple and elegant idea.

SlingAmp With A Cool Light Box

ThinLayer dental implant guided surgery system enables dentists to drill an accurate hole for a dental implant.  The system includes protocols, software for planning the implant, and a drill guide.

Thin Layer Dental Implant
There were two Best Props of #MIN64, the O-Rings and the model teeth for the dental implants. Oh, and the O-Rings get Best Hat too :-)
Tied for Best Prop of #MIN64
Athenahealth ruled the Experts Corner (or should I say Experts Wing) with their More Disruption Please (MDP) partnership program.
Experts Looking Expert