Friday, April 12, 2013

a fresh tilled #min49

Fresh Tilled Soil
April's Mass Innovation Night (number 49!) happened at Fresh Tilled Soil's nifty space at Riverworks in Watertown. The Fresh Tilled Soil space is airy and bright and welcoming. They deserve an awesome thanks for hosting MIN.

The lineup of entrepreneurs was impressive, maybe even more impressive than usual. No two MIN events are the same. I find something new every time. The thing that struck me this time was the quality and professionalism of the student entrepreneurs. When I talked with the women of Tempo from Team Unpredictable about their cozy fleece scarves, I first thought they were college students. They gave a great pitch that showed they understand their target market.

Team Unpredictable
Convert-A-Bag from Build Boston is a great idea, a messenger bag that converts to a backpack. Terrance described his target market as high school and college students who need to carry a lot of books but also want to look stylish. He showed me how easy it is to convert. It only took a few seconds.

It wasn't until I talked with some of the mentors from Build that it really sank in that these entrepreneurs are still in high school. I was totally unfamiliar with the Build program before #MIN49. I think that's my biggest take away from the night.

Bureh Belts impressed me with designs made in Sierra Leone from colorful traditional fabrics and recycled metal.  I'm big on non-leather belts and I recognize the importance of story and social mission in generating business these days. Bureh Belts definitely has that.

Bureh Belts
There seemed to be a theme of using "social" technology for connecting people in the real world going on too, with Independiva and Group Tones.

Independiva  is a social website for women who want to connect around similar interests and free time.   Networking for leisure time activities, I guess. It came out of the founders' need to find people to do things with. It's a membership organization that gives members a safe and simple way to search, connect, and meet each other. Their revenue model includes selling branded merchandise with their cool logo. And yes, they did the matching T-shirt thing so I awarded them Best Costume of #MIN49. Oh, and they gave me a tote bag with their cool logo.

Independiva -- Best Costume of #MIN49
Group Tones  founder Dan Adler-Golden , a Boston-based cellist, recounted his story of finding it hard as  musician  to find practice space, information about venues, and other musicians to play with. He created Group Tones for an easier way to connect the music community.

Group Tones
Probably the coolest techie-type product thingie of the night was the Brass Monkey game controller. Talk about brilliant, it uses smart phones as controllers and any screen with a web browser as the main display. The guy in the photo below was using the accelerometer on his iPhone to manipulate the game -- I should've done video to show how cool that was :-). It's a neat way to build and play games without buying any devoted hardware.
Brass Monkey
SEO for 2013: Search Engine Optimization Secrets Made Easy is a DIY SEO guide for small businesses from Auctus Marketing.

SEO for 2013 is all about showing off the awesome in your life, with a "Life Collage" and a one-liner biography. It's kind of like combining a Pinterest board with a Twitter-like resume.  140-character resumes are the in thing lately, but Awesome dot me gives you a bit more than that :-)

GreenStreamLine Eco Friendly Market is one-stop shopping for environmentally conscious consumers with style. I have to say I never thought about Tyvek shoes before. Somehow I managed to miss getting a photo of them.

The Crowd Listening to GreenStreamLine Presentation
Oh, and SqueeDogs was there too. Lots of folks were signing up for their Beta. I wrote about SqueeDogs back in January when I met Cerise at the crowd funding event.

The Experts Corner was really in a corner this time and I almost missed them. I did end up asking several questions of the experts and got a cool "Experts Looking Expert" shot for the traditional conclusion.

Experts Looking Expert