Thursday, October 18, 2018

#MIN115 Recap -- Women Founders Event

A Windy Night at District Hall
On Monday night, October 15, Mass Innovation Nights once again kicked off #WeBOSWeek with a Women Founders event. The theme was medical devices and digital health products --  areas in which Greater Boston is extraordinarily rich -- and the showcase featured an amazing diversity of products ranging from a device that helps women take their birth control pill on time, to an innovative tympanostomy tube (for draining ears), to a safer device for connecting an IV. Sponsors Boston Scientific and Brownmed were generous and very engaged. Before the event, Brownmed hosted an open house showcasing some of their products that address medical issues. Alas I had to miss it, but judging from the tweets and photos in my social media stream it looked like it was fascinating.
Brownmed Table Showed off Some Cool Devices
The City of Boston's Women Entrepreneurs Boston program was well represented and Tania Del Rio, Executive Director at Mayor's Office of Women's Advancement, spoke inspiringly on behalf of Mayor Walsh about the importance of women in business.
Just Part of the Dynamic WEBos Team!
The featured presenters were:
Folia presented an app for people with chronic diseases and their families to share health information and observations simply and easily. Just a few taps to document even the smallest details and make sure the doctor and the care team get that information can make a big difference in adjusting treatment.
Folia's Table Was Very Busy
Folia Presentation
IV SafeT made a big impression with a new device for connecting and securing IV tubing.  Its smaller size makes it safer for preemies and infants. Other safety and comfort features include a flat surface against the skin and ridges that grip the tubing for a more secure lock.  The founders built on their own nursing experience to come up with this safer design.
IV SafeT Makes IV Connections Safer Especially for Tiny Infants

IV SafeT Founders
Aavia showcased one of the coolest devices at the event: a pocket-sized smart device with sensors that keep track of the both the count and the position of birth control pills in  the pack and sends info to your smart phone. All a woman has to do is store her pill pack in the Aavia device and it senses whether or not she has taken the pill and sends reminders to her phone. The sensor technology seems really clever and I came away wondering if (or how) it could be applied to other types of time-sensitive medication sequences.
Aavia Co-Founder Aya Suzuki

Aavia Presenting
Astarte Medical presented their NICUtrition software tool for optimizing feeding and nutrition for preterm infants. The software automates compliance with NICU feeding protocols, enables bedside data collection, and provides quantitative data about gut health so care can be personalized.
Astarte Medical Table Was Really Busy with Lots of Questions

Astarte Medical Presenting
I managed to make it around to most of the products showcasing in addition to the four chosen presenters, talk to people, and take some photos (a little difficult with the crowds around the tables). This (well, maybe the pizza too) was arguably the most fun part of the event. The ones I didn't manage to talk with were FluidScreen Bacterial Sorter and DocFlight. Fluid-Screen's lab-on-a-chip technology was a hit at MIN104 last year. DocFlight provides a platform for telemedicine connection. The ones I did talk with and photograph are described below.

Allergy Amulet is a small, portable device for people with food allergies to detect food allergens when dining out. It's fast, uses disposable test strips, and you can wear it like a necklace or bracelet or other wearable device or integrate it into some device you already carry with you like a phone case or epinephrine injector. 
Allergy Amulet
The PionEar Tympanostomy Tube impressed me the most and got my audience favorite vote. The PionEar tube is small enough for babies' ears, designed to prevent clogging and minimize damage to the ear drum, and is resistant to the problem of microorganisms that can attach themselves to the surface of inserted devices. Fewer surgeries and fewer repeat infections for children that suffer from ear problems that require tubes can make things easier on the parents too.

The PionEar Table Is Surrounded by Crowds
A Cool Device
CareZooming is a neat online way to connect clinicians to each other to share technical expertise. With innovation happening rapidly all over the place in health care these days, it's important to connect health professionals to share what they've learned so patients get the best care.
Answering Questions about CareZooming
MightyWell's Mighty MedCase organizes the personal medical stuff you often have to carry around with you like diabetic supplies, Epi-Pen®, inhaler, medications, and supplements. It holds seven daily pages to help with tracking and organizing everything too.
Mighty MedCase

MightyWell's Table Showcased Several of Her Products

WatchRx Smartwatch for Seniors manages medication reminders for elders and their caregivers, as well as keeping tabs on users' well-being. It was great to see them again. I remember talking with CEO Jayanthi Narasimhan at MIN101 and being impressed with how comprehensive the system is. It's way more than just a reminder app. The quick status update since last time: WatchRx is currently running a trial with Hackensack Meridian Health system in New Jersey and implementing a telehealth partnership. Check out their website for the latest progress.
WatchRx CEO Jayanthi Narasimhan with Watch in Hand
 The audience choice winners for the night were:
  • PionEar- Grand Prize
  • Allergy Amulet
  • Folia
  • Aavia
Audience Choice Winners
None of the product teams had matching T-shirts or other interesting outfits, so I don't have a "Best Costume" photo for you this time. 

The Experts Corner was buzzing as usual, of course. Industrious, a co-working space provider, is this month's artistically rendered Expert Looking Expert.

Expert Looking Expert

Monday, October 1, 2018

EforAll Lowell-Lawrence Social Impact Pitch Contest Recap

Lowell's PCEA Neema Church hosted EforAll Lowell-Lawrence's social impact pitch contest last Thursday evening. The kinds of  businesses looking to make a social impact on the community participating with tables in the showcase and presenting in the pitch contest ranged from power generation to social services to practice space for musicians to gardening. There was so much to take in that I knew I wouldn't be able to absorb it all, but I spoke with as many entrepreneurs as I could and enjoyed every bit of it.

Rev. Dr. Karimi Mumbui Welcoming EforAll to His Church
The church provided an excellent presentation space with multiple video screens, good sound, and plenty of seats. The pastor, who was also one of the judges, welcomed us warmly. Also, I learned that the word "neema" in the church's name means grace in Swahili. (PCEA is Presbyterian Church of East Africa.)

Seriously Good Space for the Presentations
The judges for the pitch contest were:
  • Rev. Dr. Karimi Mumbui -- Founding Minister, PCEA Neema Church
  • Sophy Theam -- Diversity & Inclusion and Leadership Program Specialist, Enterprise Bank
  • Renay Wolterding -- Chef-Owner, Mill City BBQ and Brew
  • Joe Hungler -- Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell
  • Claire Ricker -- Urban Renewal Project Manager, City of Lowell
Judges Getting Ready
Big Checks Just Waiting to be Won
The tables were buzzing. The hallway where they were set up was narrow so it was a challenge to try to check out every table. I made the rounds to talk to as many as possible and use my table favorite voting stickers to help decide who else would get to pitch. Each attendee gets three stickers and it was hard to choose the idea I most wanted to hear. I enjoyed talking to all of these social entrepreneurs and I managed to photograph many of them.

A number of participants were from the UML DifferenceMaker program, including
The scheduled pitchers were:
  • ETRALock
  • Woven Royal
  • Napping House
  • Orvel
  • Playtlist
  • Power Scavengers
I was impressed with ETRALock, a device that attaches to any door in order to help people with disabilities such as arthritis and Parkinson's disease that make it hard to use keys and deadbolts access their homes easily and safely key-free.
ETRALock Table

ETRALock Team Doing Their Pitch
Woven Royal was probably the most surprising of the presenters.  What's surprising about a head wrap? It's made from fabric made out of recycled plastic! Imagine protecting your curls from hat head and helping clean up the beaches of the Dominican Republic at the same time.

Woven Royal
The Woven Royal pitch really captivated the judges and the audience. They're trying to make a social impact in a very unexpected way and it sure seems like they can do it.

Woven Royal Pitch
Napping House pitched a program of accommodations for students with emotional and behavioral disorders.
Napping House Table
Napping House Pitch
A plastic waste theme emerged with Orvel's vision of an ocean free of plastic waste. By organizing cleanup events, harnessing the power of media, and partnering with brands, Orvel intends to change the way we think and act toward the ocean and plastics.
Orvel Table

Orvel Pitch
Playtlist was a big hit with an app for people with dietary restrictions (whether health, cultural or religious) to find nearby restaurants that suit their needs.

Playtlist Table
Power Scavengers came all the way from Burlington, Vermont to tell us about their
wearable device that produces electricity solely from the motion of walking.  It's worn as a belt so it's easy to take along on a hike. They like to hike in the mountains and have used it already for charging their devices while hiking the Green Mountains and even Mount Kilimanjaro. Their enthusiasm and optimism was contagious.
Power Scavengers
They were so energetic that they must have generated a ton of electricity just walking back and forth in the hallway demonstrating it.
Power Scavengers Pitch
The table favorite chosen by the sticker voting was Second Chance, an outreach program for women in Lawrence who need connections to multiple types of social services. 
Second Chance Pitch
The wildcard slot, chosen by pulling a business card out of a basket, went to Elevate Lowell. Elevate Lowell is an artist's collective that brings together young urban artists to put on events that combine performing arts, music, and a marketplace that showcases entrepreneurs and creators in Lowell and the surrounding areas. Elevate aims to create opportunities for artists to promote themselves and network with other artists and businesses.

Elevate Lowell Pitch
The voting for the audience choice award went smoothly (the technology can be finicky sometimes) and we had some time to hear short pitches from some of the other folks who had tables and to grab some more of the excellent food while the judges were out deliberating. The judges took a wee bit longer than usual, but I don't blame them. They had tough choices to make. This was an amazing group of pitchers. Actually, it was an amazing group of table participants too.
Delicious Spread of Food
The winners were:

Fan Favorite: Power Scavengers $500
Power Scavengers Fan Favorite
Third Place: Power Scavengers  $500 (yeah, they get 2 checks!)

Power Scavengers Wins Third Place Too
Second Place: Playtlist $750
Playtlist Wins Second Place
First Place: Woven Royal $1000
First Place Goes to Woven Royal!
Congratulations to the winners and to everyone who pitched or tabled. Your ideas are exciting and made for a great event.

Happy Belly Gardening
Chops - Practice Space for Music Students

Measuring Up App for Getting Your Clothes to Fit Right

PhiLance Platform for Freelance Workers
Adventure Code Academy

HipHop Dance Studio

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Six Reasons to Come to Lawrence for Labor Day Weekend

Monument to the 1912 Strikers
Labor Day Weekend in Lawrence brings together labor history, immigrant history and culture, music, food, and celebration in a vibrant city still very much the Immigrant City. In this spirit, the whole city becomes a city of festivals. With the Festival of the Three Saints, the Mahrajan, and the Bread and Roses Festival you can celebrate Italian culture, Lebanese culture, and labor history from Friday evening through Monday.  Celebrating in a city that actually celebrates labor on Labor Day is reason enough to be here, but in case you need more reasons, here's a list.

1. The Feast of the Three Saints is celebrating its 95th year!
From from Friday evening through Sunday, the feast celebrates three Catholic saints — St. Alfio, St. Filadelfo and St. Cirino. The three brothers were martyred for their faith almost 1,800 years ago and have been commemorated with a feast in Trescastagni, Sicily for centuries. Italian immigrants who came to Lawrence to work in the mills, brought the tradition with them.  You'll get a real sense of Lawrence history as you enjoy food, music, and the procession , celebrating both a religious festival and Italian culture.
Members of the St. Alfio Society Getting the Saints Ready for the Procession
Some highlights this year are:


New this year, is bocce for kids and a bocce tournament for the grownups! Never played bocce? It's not too late to learn. Learn to play or refresh your skills on Friday evening in the parking lot next to North End Deli on Common Street.

The Original Drifters

This year's music lineup features classic doo-wop music by "The Original Drifters"on Saturday evening. This should be a fun show for all ages.

Taste of Italy Cooking Demos and Tastings

Cafe Tre Santi, aka the church parking lot, will host wine tastings, food tastings, cooking demos, and a cheese making demo.  You can learn about Italian wine and food pairings, hear all about wine making from the Merrimack Valley's most popular wine makers (Franco and Johnnies Vino), watch the "Original" Crispelli King Peter Messina of the Italian Kitchen make the legendary treat (crispelli), and learn all about the art of making fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheese from Luca Mignogna of Wolf Meadow Farms (and taste the fresh cheeses of course).

 2. Bread and Roses Heritage Festival

Learn about and celebrate the history and legacy of the 1912 strike that changed labor history and also celebrate the diverse cultures of Lawrence.

The Crowd at Bread and Roses
On Labor Day from 11:30 AM - 6:00PM Campagnone Common hosts an amazing array of activities:
  • enjoy live music on multiple stages in an amazing diversity of styles from traditional Garifuna dance and drumming to jazz and hip-hop and everything in between -- check out the schedule to see who's playing each stage
  • learn about Lawrence's history and its present from  historians, writers, union representatives, and community activists at the live history stage
  • listen to speakers on labor and social issues, poetry readings, and labor songs or take to the soapbox yourself to tell it like it is at the community corner and soapbox
  • have fun with kids' activities including pony rides, face painting, and arts activities
  • take a tour -- both trolley tours and historic walking tours take you to sites related to the 1912 strike and other aspects of this historic mill city
  • check out a variety of tables with vendors and non-profit organizations -- everything from food to labor organizing  -- and did you know that Mill City Zine Distro will be on of those tables? If you missed them at the Lowell Anarchist Book Fair last weekend, catch them on Labor Day in Lawrence.
3. Oompa

This year's Bread and Roses Festival is a great chance for you to hear the amazing Boston-born poet and rapper, Oompa! Trust me, she is reason enough to come to Lawrence on Labor Day in and of herself.  2016 WOWPS (Women of the World Poetry Slam) Winner and a finalist at the 2016 National Poetry Slam, Oompa is a rising star on the Boston music scene. Check out her bio on the festival schedule and get yourself to the Teoli Stage at 2:00PM on Monday for a real treat.

4. Lebanese Mahrajan Festival

Get a taste of Lebanese culture at the 44th Mahrajan at St. Anthony's Maronite Church. Three days of music, dancing and plenty of  Lebanese (and American) food starts Friday evening. That's plenty of time to enjoy the food, music, dancing, hookah, games, and even cooking classes. Stop by  Friday 6PM-Midnight,  Saturday 5PM- Midnight, and Sunday Noon-Midnight.

The food is all homemade and delicious, the pastry tent is three tables long, the music is great, and the parishioners are friendly. You'll feel right at home partaking in this great Merrimack Valley tradition.
Just a Few of the Delicious Pastries at the Mahrajan
5. Leonard Bernstein Was Born Here

Leonard Bernstein was born in Lawrence on August 25, 1918. Lawrence celebrated his centennial year with a wonderful 10-day festival and orchestras all over the USA are still doing centennial tributes to one of the best known sons of the Immigrant City. The Lawrence History Center has folders chock-full of mementos of Bernstein's many visits back to his home town after he became famous.   In many ways, his family history is similar to that of lots of people in Lawrence. Why not celebrate the centennial by exploring Lawrence and getting a feel for the mills and the immigrant history? Look around for possible sources of his inspiration and evidence of his impact.

6. Murals

Island Street Murals
Lawrence is home to loads of beautiful murals. Go on a mural quest. Take a walk, turn a corner, and be surprised by colorful art where you least expect it.  Many of these murals are the work of Lawrence-based Elevated Thought, which works with several other local communities as well. Three murals painted by Elevated Thought feature in the set for the Bread and Roses Festival's grand finale "Lawrence Hustle & Soul", a multi-media production based on the play “Morir SoƱando” by Nilson Mata.