Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wow! Innovative Innovations at #MIN88

Wow. Just wow. A new take on mass transit, responsive parking meters, secure passwords, a whole new paradigm for content distribution, vegan unicorns, oh my! LogMeIn hosted Mass Innovation Night number 88 at their spiffy new Fort Point location (across the street from their former somewhat less spiffy Fort Point location) and the innovations were more innovative and more diverse than ever before. Oh, and they provided pizza. Hosts who provide pizza are always appreciated!
Our Host
Imagine getting around our cities without a car. Self-driving or otherwise, cars are not the future. To Mike Stanley, founder of Transit X , the future looks like a clean and efficient personal mass transit system of pods traveling on overhead rails zipping us around the city. My immediate reaction was that Lowell needs this immediately. Imagine pods whisking you from the Gallagher Terminal to downtown at 45 mph without ever having to take your life in your hands crossing Dutton Street! I mentioned this to Mike and he said he actually has spoken to the folks at the UML Innovation Hub. We can hope. Meanwhile,  his plan is to have a full-size and portable test system up and running about a year and a half from now and a real production system in two years, probably making its debut in Chelsea or Everett. If it really is as cheap as he claims, I foresee widespread adoption. I mean at $10 million per mile it is WAY cheaper than the $500 million per mile for the Green Line extension. So, yeah, TransitX got my vote for audience favorite.
TransitX Mike Stanley Posing with Full Size Graphic of Pod
Tiny Non-working Model -- The pods are the dark things above the bus.
Passwords. They're good, right? As TapLink founder Jeremy Spilman described them: "secrets you can keep in your mind." But we keep hearing about all these password breaches at places like LinkedIn or whatever ... so can we fix this without having to overcomplexify the burden on the user? (Yeah, I made up overcomplexify -- let's get it into the dictionary.) TapLink says yes, we can make passwords secure against offline attack even if your company’s password database is stolen. TapLink's blind hashing technique essentially obscures the passwords in a huge pool of data. At least that's what I gathered from his lightning quick presentation.
TapLink's Table Attracting Some Interest
Raise Your Hand if You Like Passwords
More supercoolness: LBRY makes it possible to publish a piece of digital content, like video, book, game, or some other kind of content not yet developed on top of a distributed network that makes it extremely efficient, robust, and resistant to censorship. Chew on that for a second. Founder Jeremy Kauffman said he'd explain it to his grandmother as "YouTube, but entirely controlled by and run by its users." It's decentralized. It's open source. It uses blockchain in creative ways to manage the content catalog and the way users can get paid. He never used the word disruptive (in fact the whole event was remarkably free of startup-speak) but that's what it its.
Stream, Share, Earn
Crowd Listening to Presenters
Innovative parking meters? You bet! Sentry Parking Meter/Kiosk is a parking meter that responds to your mobile device. Yeah, you can pay with your phone, but wait, there's more. Get directions to an open spot, instructions on how to pay, street closure alerts, weather warnings, and even discount offers from local businesses. My personal favorite feature? No more running back to add time if you are running late - just use your phone. And there's a “grace period” so you don't have to worry about getting a ticket if you're just minutes short.
Yes, It's  a Parking Meter
Unicorn Goods
It can be hard for vegans and animal lovers to find stylish goods that don't harm animals. Unicorn Goods solves this issue with an online shopping platform to help you buy animal friendly products. Anything that simplifies reducing impact on animals, people, and the planet is bound to find a sizable market.
Victoria, Founder of  WORKINGURL
I recognized Victoria and her extremely cool WORKINGURLCO carryall bags from following EforAll Southcoast's first accelerator class. Ever notice how women often have to carry a lot of stuff on the go? These bags solve that problem with style. Seriously check them out.

Care Cards - Best Costume of MIN88
Best Costume and Best Prop of MIN88 both go to Care Cards, whose T-shirts and scary skeleton helped promote their inspirational card deck designed to help you adopt a healthier lifestyle.

The rapid fire job opportunities at this MIN incarnation were unusually diverse, with calls for performers and artists and unpaid interns and more ... The new economy is interesting...

Diane Calls for Artists during Rapid Fire Job Opps
Virtually Here Saves You Time

I tried to talk to everyone and get photos of everyone, but you know how that goes.  Virtually Here's Virtual Assistant helps your business save time. AppInAll provides a group communication search tool for iPhone and Android. Supertitle provides perfectly synced subtitles for movie watchers at home, in nearly any language of their choosing. If I missed anybody else, I'm sure I'll catch up with you around the startup scene.

Our friends from Suja Juice were there offering tasting probiotic waters. I can vouch for the lime/ginger flavor.

Finally, as is traditional, I will close with an Expert Looking Expert shot. Jason from LogMeIn doubled as host and resident expert and agreed to pose looking exceptionally expert.

Expert Looking Expert

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kicking Off Summer with EforAll

We had a perfect evening for celebrating entrepreneurship and summer in our beloved Merrimack Valley yesterday.  The EforAll Summer 2016 Kickoff at the Greater Lawrence Community Boathouse. There was good food and good company and lots and lots of networking.
Community Boating
There were boat rides and games and temporary tattoos and I even saw some people dancing to a Latin beat.

Merrimack River
Multi-talented EforAll Marketing Manager Andy Vargas demonstrated 21st century DJing -- just plug that phone into the sound system and presto, you've got a party.
Andy Vargas
The Party Connection served up the beverages, including adult beverages.
The Party Connection
The boat rides on the river were very popular. The boat could accommodate 10 at a time. Everybody wore life jackets.
Putting on the Life Jackets for the First Boat Ride
People were snapping up burgers and dogs as soon as they came off the grill.
The kids took advantage of the volleyball net for both volleyball and some game I'd never seen before involving getting a football over the net.
I couldn't get a photo of the bubble machine, but I did get the temporary tattoo guy to pose for me.
Temporary Tattoo Booth
Did I mention I met the Zen Fuddhist? We had a great conversation about food and Lowell and all that good stuff.
Savannah and Bradley -- Food Entrepreneurs -- Zen Fuhddist
The crowd was buzzing all evening. Lots and lots of networking going on.
The river was looking so beautiful it was hard to leave.
Looking Downriver Toward Lawrence Dam

Thursday, June 9, 2016

in case you missed #MIN87

A whole lot of people gathered at Bullhorn last night to check out Mass Innovation Nights' latest showcase of new products.  Have a look at the Storify to see how it went:
 Mass Innovation Nights #MIN87 at Bullhorn -- the Storify

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mass Innovation Nights #MIN85 Recap

Mass Innovation Nights celebrated its 7th birthday with another wonderful product launch event at MITRE in Bedford. This was the second time MITRE sponsored and hosted a Mass Innovation Nights event. Last time was back in July of 2015. They provided food too -- everybody was talking about the Philly cheese steak egg rolls. Oh, and Suja was there handing out free juice again - always welcome.
This month's event had a security, big data/big cloud, and health theme. All the tables were busy with people checking out products ranging from graphical interfaces for analytics to a device to assess coughing via telemedicine and so much more. As is my usual lately, I didn't manage to talk to or photograph every exhibitor.  I did see lots of interesting stuff that I liked, though.
Security Innovation -- Best Costume
The four chosen presenters were:

The student startup showcase included Medley and closeFriends from the Accelerate program at Wentworth and CoughCounter from Tufts. The student startups also presented.
I liked Rulex's approach to simplifying configuration for analytics processes using a graphical UI. Making it easier to seek answers in big data seemed to be a theme within a theme, as Podium and deepSQL also tackled getting the most out of big data.
WindTalker Security
WindTalker Security offers an innovative way of managing security for patient information. You can make certain information available only to defined roles. I was calling it "differential security" but I'm not sure that fully captures it.  Imagine that your doctor can see patient names, but researchers can't or the billing office can see social security numbers, but telemetry can't. This makes it a whole lot easier to transmit medical forms and documents, x-rays, and telemetry feeds securely over both public and private networks without compromising patient confidentiality. This got my vote for favorite.
Kyrus Mobile
Kyrus Mobile offers a solution for distracted driving safety in the corporate fleet environment. They make it possible to enforce a "no cellphone" policy and collect the data to prove compliance. Kyrus was very popular with the audience.

Podium Data Presentation
Podium Data  simplifies enterprise data management with an integrated platform that harnesses the power of Hadoop and makes it easy to deploy.
Cough Counter
Cough Counter, one of the student startups, is developing a low-cost system to monitor and measure how many times a patient coughs, upload the data to a server, and analyze that data to assess the recovery of patients suffering from respiratory illness like TB. They've been collaborating with a group in Lima, Peru and with Johns Hopkins University.
People Hedge Presenting
PeopleHedge is a one stop shop for international commerce: find your international customers, manage global payments, and connect to capital all in one spot.

Security Innovation did a demo of  CMD+CTRL Hackathon, a simulation to train developers in identifying security vulnerabilities and deal with them.

Security Innovation Presenting
Ethoswell helps manage the connection to complementary healthcare providers like chiropractors, dietitians, and acupuncturists. (No photo - camera glitched on it.)

In the  fan voting, the grand prize winner was Kyrus Mobile and the other favorites were WindTalker Security, Podium Data, and People Hedge.

There were a ton of experts including folks from MITRE available to discuss cyber security and intellectual property rights. Other experts in business insurance, venture capital and internet policy rounded out the Experts Corner.  The wonderful people from the Bedford Chamber of Commerce and from the Advanced Cyber Security Center provided their expertise as well.  The Bedford Chamber of Commerce folks graciously agreed to pose for the "Experts Looking Expert" photo (with their free Suja juices).
Bedford Chamber of Commerce Looking Expert and Enjoying Free Suja Juices

Monday, March 21, 2016

EforAll Winter Accelerator Awards Recap

Welcome to E for All
Last Wednesday night, the Everett Mill hosted the festivities celebrating the latest class of entrepreneurs to complete EforAll's accelerator program. It was a good crowd (I'm told there were over 100 people in attendance).  Thank you to Everett Mills Real Estate for welcoming entrepreneurs to this historic space and thank you to all the local businesses who provided delicious food.
History -- Yup, this is the place.
The EforAll accelerator is a 12-week intensive program where entrepreneurs work with mentors, attend workshops, network with experts, and compete for cash prizes to bring their business or non-profit ventures to the next level.  Passion for their ideas is a requirement for participation in the accelerator, and that passion was definitely on display with all of the entrepreneurs at the event.
Lawrence at Dusk through the Window
The variety of ideas/businesses amazed me: robots,  LGBTQ history content, quilting kits for the visually impaired, legal services, websites for conservation trusts, bread baking, personal styling, and more and more and more.

I really enjoyed meeting the founders of History UnErased, whose mission is to "unerase" the stories and history of LGBTQ people by providing educational content and training for educators so that young people in grades K-12 will have a more positive and inclusive experience of history.  They got my vote for fan favorite.

History UnErased
Mitsy Kit's sewing and quilting kit impressed me with clever adaptations that enable blind people to sew and quilt using their sense of touch. The creative use of burlap to help blind people locate the edges of quilt squares struck me as brilliant.
Mitsy Kit
I chatted with Nicole of Lynx Investigations about support services for attorneys, private investigators, corporations, and ordinary people involved in legal issues. She works with locating and retrieving documents from all the relevant databases quickly and accurately, whether it's government documents, court records, or other things.
Lynx Investigations
Franklin Robotics develops robots for agriculture so I was eager to check it out. Rory had worked at Harvest Robotics, but it turns out he didn't know my girl scientist nieces. I guess his time there didn't overlap with either of theirs, but it was still cool to share stories.  Franklin's weeding robot is intended for home gardens. It takes care of the unpleasant part of keeping your garden weed-free. It’s solar powered too. Anything that relieves gardening of back-breaking weed-pulling and/or spraying nasty herbicides, is a great innovation.
Franklin Robotics
Purple Carrot Bread Co.  bakes high quality artisan breads and sells them at the Farm Market at Mill No. 5 in Lowell and other farmer's markets.  Their goal is to have their own storefront that serves lunch featuring their high quality breads made from scratch.
Purple Carrot
Trail Websites does web design, development, hosting, and other services for Conservation and Land Trusts needing to boost their engagement with the public, and thus improve fundraising, with better websites. We had a great chat about some of the local trails and organizations and how few people know there are over 100 miles of trails in Boxford alone (hey, Boxford is not that far from Lawrence at all, check it out).

Trail Websites
Milling around in the crowd, sampling delicious sandwiches from Purple Carrot, networking, and tweeting frequently in hopes of winning the social media prize (a signed copy of Desh Deshpande's book) meant I didn't get to photograph every entrepreneur at his or her table before the speeches, pitches, and awards.

Mayor Dan Rivera welcomed us to Lawrence and inspired us with his story of a mayoral campaign as startup. I always get inspired listening to Mayor Rivera. This man clearly loves Lawrence.
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera
Raj Melville, Executive Director of the Deshpande Foundation, filled in for Desh Deshpande who was unable to give the keynote because of illness. Raj told us about EforAll, about this accelerator class, about the challenges of entrepreneurship and about the importance of local entrepreneurs in stimulating the economy.
Raj Melville Filling in for Desh Deshpande
Class speaker Cristina Pimentel of The Fuschia Files spoke about her experience of the accelerator and her vision for personalizing style. After Cristina's talk, each of the entrepreneurs in the class gave a 1-minute pitch and the audience texted in their votes for their favorite.
Cristina Pimentel
Time for the One Minute Pitches
With a prize pool of $15,500 to be handed out and so many talented entrepreneurs in this class, there was plenty of excitement in the room as the prizes were awarded. The Christina Hamilton Award for grit and overcoming obstacles went to Lynx Investigations. The fan favorite voting ended in a tie between Jerez Electronics and Franklin Robotics, who each got $250.

The winners in order by prize money were:
  • Mitsy Kit $5,000
  • History UnErased $3,000
  • Purple Carrot Bread Co. $2,500
  • Cognate $2,000
  • Jerez Electronics $1,500
  • The Fuschia Files $750
  • Lynx Investigations $500

Lynx Investigations Won the Christina Hamilton Award
Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Winter 2016 Accelerator Class! Continue with the passion for your enterprises!