Friday, August 14, 2015

big crowd for #MINFoodie9

This is the Place for #MINFoodie9
Wednesday's Mass Innovation Nights Foodie event was huge: record number of products, enormous crowd, and vast space at Lord Hobo Brewing Co. The actual brewing area was roped off, but open for us to view and photograph. All that gleaming stainless steel made for some bright and shiny photos!

Gleaming Brewing Tanks
The food innovations were diverse as always from juices to prepackaged Indian meals to spices for kids and beyond. The crowd favorite was Makomas Juices.  Samples were going fast, and once I tasted the hibiscus, I could see why. It tasted a little bit like Red Zinger (my favorite hippie dippy herbal tea back in the 1970s) but fruitier.  All the flavors are based on West African family traditions. They're available at many Whole Foods stores (alas, not my local one) and other natural foods stores.

Makomas Juice
I loved meeting the folks behind Natural Food Exchange. Their food is not only organic but also GMO free. Hey, they stock my favorite kale chips -- the ones from Revitalive in Newburyport -- and they are conveniently located in Reading (here in the north country of Massachusetts).

Me Chatting with Natural Food Exchange (photo by Maureen Mansfield)
It was also great running into MIN regular Janet Morgenstern Passani of Jute Marketing, who is working with Natural Food Exchange, and shares the great name of Janet.
Two Janets Are Even Better Than One (photo by Maureen Mansfield)
Speaking of people it was great to see, guess who was finally spotted at a Mass Innovation Night after nearly a year - that's right, Eric Andersen! It was great to reconnect with Eric. Lots of other regulars were happy to see him too. And his prolific tweeting inspired me to up my Twitter game :-)

Everybody is Glad to See Eric!
TippiTopper seasonings are made especially for kids. They're organic and made from fruit. Kids can sprinkle them on plain foods to enhance the flavor. Sounds like a cool thing for picky eaters. I tried the Banana Bread and the PB and J sprinkled on plain yogurt. The Banana Bread really perked up the yogurt.
Purple Carrot delivers vegan meal kits -- all pre-measured ingredients and the recipes. They seemed to be getting an enthusiastic response from people.

Purple Carrot
India in a Box supplies delicious Indian meals, yes, in a box. Pour, heat, eat. 

India in a Box
Glenwood Garden was there to introduce a new Artisan Food Gift Box. Each sale triggers a donation to one of their participating nonprofits. Great food, sustainability, and charitable giving. What more could you want?
Glenwood Garden
Glenwood Garden Gift Box

The Coffee Bar from New Grounds Food was delicious. It's organic, vegan, and gluten free and is infused with a full cup of fair trade coffee. This gives new meaning to the term "energy bar."

Coffee Bar
Vegetable bouquets from Crudite Creations are the prettiest food I saw all evening. They're also the perfect gift for when you have no idea what to give.  And who knew vegetables came in so many bright colors?
Pretty Food from Crudite Creations
Smoked Maple Syrup. Smoked Maple Syrup. Smoked Maple Syrup. Did I say that enough? Sugar Bob's Smoked Maple Syrup  is just that, rich, dark maple syrup infused with wood smoke. The sample tasted delicious. The syrup is intended for cooking with, not for pouring on your pancakes. The idea is to use it in sauces, marinades, and glazes to give big flavor to things like barbecue. And even though they didn't have matching T-shirts, I hereby award them Best Costume of MINFoodie9 because of their father and son name tags: Sugar Bob and Sugar Dad.
Sugar Dad and Sugar Bob
Community Brew was getting raves for the samples of Downeast Cider, but Community Brew is actually software (a SAAS application) for craft breweries from East Coast Product. Their aim is to make it easier for craft brewers to communicate with their customers.

Community Brew
The Adey Foods table was drawing big crowds with their samples of delicious Ethiopian cuisine. Who wouldn't want fresh, locally produced, high quality Ethiopian foods? Now imagine finding them in your local grocery store instead of searching for an Ethiopian specialty store.

A Glimpse of Adey Foods thru the Crowd
As I said in the first paragraph, this event was huge with a record number of products.  It was impossible for me to sample everything and talk to everybody. The spirit of the crowd was very upbeat and everybody seemed to be having lots of fun. There was even a corn hole game set up and some people were getting to be quite expert at it, so I will close with a photo of some corn hole players/experts.

Getting Serious about Playing Corn Hole

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

6 reasons to come to Lowell this weekend

Lowell is the place to be this weekend July 24-25-26 with 5 stages of traditional music, amazing ethnic foods, art, and all manner of amazing things. The Lowell Folk Festival is celebrating its 29th year as the longest running free Folk Festival in the country. Need more reasons to join in the fun?
Crowd in JFK Plaza for San Francisco Taiko Dojo -- LFF 2014
Here are 6 reasons to come to Lowell during Folk Festival weekend:

1. Food! Food booths at Boardinghouse Park, JFK Plaza, and Dutton Street offer a culinary tour of the world without leaving downtown. This foodie extravaganza is put on by local churches and nonprofits to showcase their ethnic food traditions and raise money for their community programs. It is totally worth the drive from Boston or Portland or even Albany for the lumpia and the turon from Iskwelahang Pilipino. My personal favorite is the loobie & rooz from St. George Antiochian Church. They make green beans sing.
Pilipino Food! Lumpia and Turon
2. Learn to make pickles! This year's foodways theme is "Pickling Traditions".  See how folks make refrigerator pickles, Jamaican pickled pepper sauce and other yummy things. Hey, the refrigerator pickles demo is by Mill City Grows' own Lydia Sisson -- urban farming entrepreneur and one of Lowell's amazing people named Lydia (Lowell is just full of amazing Lydias for some reason).

Loobie & Rooz

3. Selfies with the Geico Gecko!  Geico is one of the Folk Festival's sponsors and this year they plan to have the Gecko at their booth for your photographing pleasure.

4. Downtown Lowell! Folk Festival is the perfect time to check out the Mill City's many attractions, from public art to three, count them three, vinyl record stores.  Red brick mills, canals, the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Mill No. 5 (you have to experience it to understand), art galleries, art in the park, and did I mention record stores?
Boott Mill
Vinyl Records!
5. Coffee! Brew'd Awakening Coffeehaus is celebrating its 10th anniversary during Folk Festival, so be sure to stop in for the famed cold brewed ice coffee. Need some coffee beans to brew at home? Check out Brew'd's two locally roasted blends -- The Poet and The Painter And you know what? Brew'd is just part of the amazing Lowell coffee scene. Be sure to swing by Rosie's for more locally roasted coffee. Just need a quick pick me up? Try the Coffee Mill. Need atmosphere and antlers? Try Coffee and Cotton in Mill No. 5.


6. Free Music! Free Music! Free Music! Just look at this list of amazing musicians playing at this year's festival. And that's not even mentioning street performers at Busk Stops and local favorites playing at clubs and coffee shops, and the amazing hip hop dancing in the streets.

Dancing in the Streets

Friday, July 10, 2015

MIN to the max at #MIN76

MITRE hosted MIN (how alliterative) for the first time on Wednesday 7/8. The space was beautiful and spacious, even including an indoor rock garden. It's a good thing the space was big, because the crowd was big. MITRE was a great host, providing not only a good space but also delicious food, including edamame dumplings. Who can resist edamame dumplings? Thank you, MITRE.

Spacious Space
It's always amazing to me how diverse the products are at MIN, even when there's a theme, or in this case two themes: HealthIT and Cybersecurity.  It was mainly the health products that made an impression on me.

MyMedicalShopper attracted a lot of attention with a health care transparency platform. Think of being able to make your health care choices based on price, quality, and convenience data! MyMedicalShopper makes comparison easy, so your choices are clearer. Needless to say, they got loads of votes and won the grand prize, a flight on Tailwind.

My Medical Shopper
My personal favorite was Sunu a wearable "flashlight" for the blind and visually impaired. It's a wristband that uses ultrasound technology to scan your path and give feedback using vibration. This allows a person with low vision to move safely and smoothly. A branch hanging over the sidewalk? Furniture in your path? Sunu lets you know. 

Sunu Demo Table
Fernando Albertorio gave a great presentation. I chatted with him afterwards about my partner's needs in detecting and responding to uneven surfaces (remind me to blog about the obstacle course that the East Side of Providence has become with the endless water pipe project). Sunu won't really help with detecting when the sidewalk changes from pavement to gravel and slopes up and down quickly, but the potential is there for that. Sunu won a MITRE swag bag in the fan voting.
Fernando Wearing Sunu
Revvo is a smart exercise bike - wicked smaht as we might say in Boston - that not only tracks how much exercise you do, but also measures your aerobic capacity and helps you cycle at just the right intensity to get maximum fitness improvement. They offered free fitness tests at their demo table and generated lots of enthusiasm for their presentation. And yes, they were one of the fan voting winners.

Revvo Presentation
MIN regular (since practically the beginning), Mory Bahar, presented his Choose This Not That series of apps from Personal Remedies  that guide you through nutritional solutions to common health conditions and issues like gout, high triglycerides, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Vitamin D deficiency, and even some types of cancer. You name it and there's an app to help you decide what to eat/not eat based on whatever your issue is. I noticed a lot of people downloading the apps while Mory was presenting. Another well-deserved fan favorite winner of a MITRE swag bag.

Mory Bahar

The READcase attracted my attention because it provides a stable platform for image capture, which is very useful to blind and low vision folks who use mobile apps that do text to speech based on image scanning. It's handy for lots of other scanning applications too. It's certainly less bulky than the huge scanning device my partner has for reading her mail. The READcase works with existing technology for text recognition, so it doesn't solve many of the problems people experience with the big expensive standalone solutions either, like reading glossy postcards or other glossy material or reading watermarks and the gray background text (how do you tell if that's a bill from Blue Cross or it's telling you that you paid -- the key info is in the gray watermark.) Anyway, beyond uses for low vision apps, this could be really useful for scanning business cards and other items.

DARTDrones Flight School had a table full of drones to attract the crowd. I mean, who can resist drones? Not sure whether drones are cybersecurity or health care, but they're cool (despite their use as wildlife harassment devices -- please don't fly your drone on National Wildlife Refuges, it's illegal and not a good idea).
DARTDrones Flight School
Admetsys tackles the problem of measuring and managing insulin and glucose in surgical and hospital care of diabetic patients. This is an innovation that doesn't necessarily wow the crowds because it's not a consumer product, but it is brilliant and deserves attention. It's basically an artificial pancreas. Do check it out.

Have you ever wanted to throw the microphone to that person in the back row who has a question? I have. So have MIN presenters. That's why Catchbox was a big hit. Yes, BobbieC threw the Catchbox to an audience member and audience members threw it to other audience members. It sure beats running around trying to hand off the microphone. I hereby award Catchbox "Best Prop of MIN76"! Yes, they beat out the drones :-) Maybe I should give it "Best Costume" too, because it's so cleverly disguised that it doesn't even look like a microphone.
Best Prop of MIN76 - Catchbox
For our Experts Looking Expert photo we have two of MITRE's cadre of experts, who provided loads of info about MITRE and technology transfer, and were just all around fun to talk with.

Experts Looking Expert

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Another Blockbuster Mass Innovation Night #MIN75

There was a line to get into Google Boston (which is actually in Cambridge -- familiar theme) for civic tech themed MIN75. Either interest in civic tech is booming in the greater Cambridge area or free adult beverages were the big draw. I prefer to think it's the interest in civic tech. Google deserves huge thanks for a spectacular job of hosting such a huge crowd.

The Beverage Line
The product tables were absolutely mobbed. The buzz of people chatting with entrepreneurs and/or networking with each other was the buzziest I've ever seen it and I've been to many a MIN. 
Just a Fraction of the Crowd Checking Out Products
In addition to the four presenters chosen by vote, a Student Startup Spotlight featured two startups from Bentley University (alma mater of my brother and his husband - obviously high quality). Zyp and theScarletH.
Zyp tackles the problem of  getting a cleaning service on demand and for a specific area. Their app brings the sharing economy to cleaning.  The Zyp team had matching T-shirts in a nice blue color, so I hereby designate them "Best Costume of MIN75".

Best Costume of #MIN75
TheScarletH brings personal safety to the dating app space.  Not only does it allow women to review a man's safety score but it also brings together a man's different dating personas. It sounds like a idea whose time has come.
The four chosen presenters were:
  1. WeVote  -making communication with your legislators easier
  2. CampusTap - a private social platform for college career services
  3. Lig - making legal simple
  4. Vocoli - suggestion box that actually works
It was wonderful to hear WeVote's ideas for increasing civic engagement by making government more transparent. I sincerely hope this leads to more people voting in local and midterm elections.
It was great to see Vocoli again. Veterans of MIN62 and PINSMASS001, the pitch keeps getting better and the need for a digital suggestion box with the ability to track your suggestions just keeps growing.

People's enthusiasm for CampusTap generated some of the best auto-correct errors on Twitter: collage for college and underground for undergrad. Hm, I think I will start referring to my "underground" years at Regis. :-)
There was a lot of enthusiasm for Lig too. Who wouldn't seek legal redress for a grievance if hiring a lawyer only took 5 minutes?

Don Letting Someone Try on his Glass
It's always great to run into Don Schwartz of New Hampshire Innovation Nights. He had a crowd gathered around him not just for info on his podcast or NH Innovation Nights, but also for curiosity about his Google Glass.

The prize winners were Bike Beacon, WeVote, CampusTap, and grand prize winner OpportunitySpace. Prizes were donated by Google and by InnovationWomen. The VentureFizz technology prize went to Vocoli. All well deserved.

The public sector - both the Baker administration and the Walsh administration - was well represented in the Experts Corner with Bill Oates, CIO of the Commonwealth, Chris Osgood, Co-Chair of the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, and Harlan Weber, a Commonwealth Innovation Fellow at MassIT.  Secretary Ash took a photo of the crowd and commented on the turnout as well as the ripped jeans. He looked very expert, so he gets to be the closing Expert Looking Expert.

Secretary Ash Looking Expert

Friday, May 15, 2015

a luxurious #MIN74

Our Generous Host - Mercedes Benz of Burlington
The newly opened Mercedes Benz of Burlington provided the most luxurious location for a Mass Innovation Night yet. The bright, open space provided plenty of room for product demo/display tables, refreshments, mingling, and admiring the beautiful cars.

Too Bad This One Is Not in My Budget
From gorgeous handbags to car wash technology and everything in between, the diversity of products at MIN is amazing. I know I say that every month, but it is the best feature of MIN.

Circuit Scribe
It's always hard to choose a favorite, but Circuit Scribe got my vote. This silver conductive ink pen lets you draw circuits on paper and a collection of components snap right in to the circuit, so your circuit diagram becomes an actual circuit. Talk about rapid prototyping! Your engineering notebook becomes the prototype. What  a great way to teach circuits in school!

YoYo Events
I enjoyed talking with the YoYo Events folks about making corporate team building events more fun and more memorable. I also loved their clever display of yo-yos.

Kesi Gibson - Kyu Melange
Kyu Melange not only produces gorgeous accessories like the leather and fabric hand bags that were on display, they also highlight the artisans behind the design and production. Kesi Gibson takes fashion accessories to the level of wearable art.

Gleamfire takes car washing beyond the bucket. This cool device cleans the water and wash material so you use less water and prevent scratches at the same time. Imagine using only a gallon and a half of water to wash your car.  The perfect product to be celebrating at a luxury car dealership too!  I hereby award Gleamfire the Best Prop of #MIN74 award.

"Email My Check" Demo Table

Keeping marketing content on message and coordinated is a challenge. That's where iPositioning comes in. They bring collaboration technology, single sourcing, cloud technology, and social media integration all together to optimize your message.

Think Board
Think Board was wildly popular with their removable panels that turn any surface into a dry erase board.  They were deservedly the top vote getter for the Business Extra Points. I didn't see anybody stick one onto a Mercedes, but I'll bet you could have.

Think Desk
The Sun LifeLight brings all the health benefits of sunlight into your office. Humans were built to be outdoors. We need sunlight. We don't always get enough. Even people who don't suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) benefit from getting the right amount of sunlight. Unlike the bulky light boxes you've seen used to treat SAD, the LifeLight fits easily and unobtrusively on your desk. It's basically a desk lamp with full spectrum light and a mobile app with the smarts to recommend the right amount of sunlight for each individual. And it's cool-looking too.

Sun LifeLight
One of the presentations that generated a lot of tweets was from Woxxer. Their description: "Woxxer is an instant 3-metric evaluation tool for any granular content, embeds anywhere you can touch or click on a screen, and provides immediately useful and sortable data on real-time human subjective thinking, reactions, and judgment." Woxxer wants "woxxing" to be more popular than tweeting.  Hey, if they can help extract more meaning from online interactions, it just may happen.

Woxxer - Beyond Opposable Thumbs
In another one of those moments that makes Mass Innovation Nights an amazing experience,  Nelson DeWitt used his presentation time  to promote the Mama Chila Foundation's first project - to help reunite Salvadoran adoptees Ana and Isabel with their birth mother.  Nelson had initially planned to talk about the Kickstarter campaign to complete Identifying Nelson,  a documentary film about his life as one of El Salvador’s Disappeared.

Nelson DeWitt Presenting
MIN74 was definitely another memorable Mass Innovation Nights event.  Mark your calendars now for the next MIN event (number 75) in June at Google in Cambridge.

For the Experts Looking Expert shot we have Laurie Anglin and Mark DeMello of TriNet, who shared their HR expertise at #MIN74.
Experts Looking Expert