Thursday, January 24, 2013

fabulous crowdfunding event!

Boston Looks So Good From Cambridge!
Last night's Crowdfunding Innovation 2 -- a special Mass Innovation Nights event -- featured successful crowdfunders, folks kicking off crowdfunding efforts, great food from Anna's Taqueria, music from RadioBDC, and the awesome view of Boston from Microsoft NERD. Muchas gracias to Anna's Taqueria, Microsoft, Metropolis Creative, Yelp, Cambridge Trust Company, RadioBDC, and TRB Design for supporting Crowdfunding Innovation.

Innovation Nights Sign
Right off the bat, I knew this was a Mass Innovation Nights event, not because Bobbie C and her megaphone greeted people, but because I met a guy wearing a banana suit.  He wins Best Costume of Crowdfunding Innovation 2, beating out the guy with electric blue pants and tie (see background of sign photo above :-)).  Fresh Truck got my attention for sure, but not just because of the banana outfit. What project could be more worthwhile to fund than bringing fresh produce to all of Boston's neighborhoods with a retrofitted school bus? Social impact! Environmental stewardship! Biodiesel!

Fresh Truck Guy in Banana Suit -Accessible and Affordable Fresh Produce to Everyone
I enjoyed talking with the folks from Seeding Labs about funding scientists in the developing world to conduct research through equipment donation, training, and network building - particularly the initiative to  help improve food security in Ghana with genetic research on the types of corn grown in West Africa. We also talked a bit about seed saving and about the lack of genetic research on timber crops (in my IDRI fundraising identity I'm wicked into talking about conifer genetics). And, in an obligatory family reference, one of my girl scientist nieces did some work on sanitation in Ghana with Engineers Without Borders so I perk up when I hear about projects in Ghana. By the way, science rocks! Scientists rock! Girl scientists rock hard!
Seeding Labs
 As I moved from the Seeding Labs table toward the Gorilla Doorway Playgym table I caught this great action shot. Air gym! The Gorilla Doorway Playgym ties with the beaker from Seeding Labs for Best Prop.

Demonstrating the Door Gym

SqueeDogs caught my eye immediately. This looks like a fantastic Facebook game!  A puppy private investigator solves mysteries, finds goodies, and saves puppies. The best part is that it helps real life puppies too! Cerise sold me on it. I can't wait 'til it comes out. By the way, I can't figure out how she pegged me as a cat person who also likes dogs.

Cerise Posing with SqueeDogs Screen
My favorite product of the night, narrowly edging out SqueeDogs, was Shea Radiance, body care products that also create economic opportunities for rural African women.  The sample of pomegranate Shea Butter cream that came home with me is really helping with the winter skin in this weather (it's wicked cold here, in case you're reading this in some warm place).

Shea Radiance
I liked Socrademy's  personalized education system and their whiteboard diagram.

When I turned around to check out USpin -- smart group and place matching with a concierge twist -- I spotted Ricky Orng from Lowell! I am now convinced that Ricky is everywhere I go. I also spotted a fantastic hat, so made the acquaintance of Leora, wearer of the hat.

Me with Leora and Her Hat -- Photo by Ricky Orng

The Ubiquitous Ricky
It was so great to see people from Lowell at this event, not only the ubiquitous Ricky but also Sopheak from FOB Lifestyle + Apparel and Lydia from Mill City Grows. Lots of wonderful stuff is happening in the Merrimack Valley, especially in Lowell. Boston/Cambridge folks might be pleasantly surprised when they check it out.

By the way, I'm told Ricky really liked the chips.

I didn't get to every table, of course. I did get to the MilestonePod  table to find out about their little device that attaches to your shoe to track your running and walking  mileage. I missed Cellanyx and  Uth Faction though.
Zack from MilestonePod
I learned lots from the panel of successful crowdfunders from Bow&Drape, TechSandBox, and Founders Less than Three moderated by Mike Morisy from The Hive.

Moderator Morisy

Founders Less than Three, Bow and Drape, and Moderator Waiting for TechSandbox to Join Them
My head was spinning with all the insights into how important video is in the crowdfunding pitch, the need for engagement throughout the campaign, and how projects seeking crowdfunding can help each other out. It was also interesting to hear that a lot of folks chose platforms other than Kickstarter for their campaigns.

Contender for Best Hat from RadioBDC
I checked out RadioBDC, which I have not yet listened to, and picked up some programming info so I know when to listen. Also, one of the RadioBDC team posed a definite challenge to Leora in the Best Hat category.
RadioBDC Crew
Fantastic frequent participant, Unreal Candy, was there with some free delicious treats too.

In case you wondered, there has been at least one previous banana suit at a Mass Innovation Nights event.

So, now for the official decision on Best Hat, which y'all have been holding your breath for... Best Hat of Crowdfunding Innovation 2 goes to Leora!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

blogging along

I've got a backlog of partly finished blog posts. I'm scheduling some time to crank them out over the next week or so. First up will be about tonight's Mass Innovation Nights Crowdfunding event tonight at Microsoft NERD. The backlog posts will follow.

Meanwhile, I had a great time tonight. Even ran into some Lowell peeps! Love it when Merrimack Valley people come to Cambridge. Now if we could just get more Cambridge people to come to the Merrimack Valley.

Here are a couple of photos to keep you semi-interested :-)

View of Boston from NERD
Me Admiring Leora's Awesome Hat (photo by Ricky Orng)
Ricky Checking Out USpin

Thursday, January 10, 2013

First Mass Innovation Night of 2013 #MIN46

The first MIN of 2013 drew crowds to the IBM Innovation Center in Waltham to check out an eclectic mix of products from gorgeous head wear to wearable social networking hardware. A theme emerged with multiple products doing cool things with video.  Plus we got to see Bobbie C's new megaphone!

The Megaphone -- Best Prop of #MIN46

I tried to go counterclockwise around the Hall of Innovation systematically checking out each product. That kind of sort of worked for a bit, but the room was jam-packed so I just went with the flow.

Hall of Innovation Jam-packed
 Arsenal Recon showed off an extremely useful new tool, Registry Recon, which searches for Microsoft Windows Registry data,  even deleted data, and shows investigators how registries from current and previous installations of Windows have changed over time. They developed it because they needed such a tool in their computer forensics work.

Registry Recon
Amico, one of the night's chosen presenters, showed off the coolest product of the night -- a bracelet that brings social networks to real life in the real world. We're talking a combination of bling and hardware that helps you match interests with people in the room or at the event with you based on your social media profile. Say I want to find UNIX geeks at the Moby-Dick Marathon reading or I want to find Moby-Dick readers at Mass Innovation Nights. All I have to do is make sure that info is in my profile downloaded into the bracelet and the bracelet does all the work for me. It lights up when a matching profile is in proximity. 
I'm imagining this as a big thing for large events like SXSW.

The team from viaNetwork told me about their service that helps make start-ups visible to investors, prospective talent, and mentors. With their visibility enhancing software, the relevant people will definitely see your viaResume. Dan put on his beanie hat for the photo. Best hat? Well maybe. After all, he's competing with Veronica from My Crowning Jewel. :-)

The head wraps from My Crowning Jewel are amazingly gorgeous. Their philosophy says it all:
"Whether we wrap our hair to protect our hair from breakage, to adorn our crowns following hair loss, or just to mask a bad hair day,we still can look fabulous!"
I have to say that Veronica (CEO) and her Aunt Louisa (chief designer) both did indeed look fabulous. I hereby award Best Hat of #MIN46 to Veronica's head wrap, though it was a close race with Dan's beanie.

Veronica from My Crowning Jewel
Awesome Jewels
Over in the Cape Cod room, yet more innovators were drawing a good crowd.

Cape Cod Room

Cleverhood makes the best-looking and best-performing rain capes ever. The hounds-tooth one even reflects headlights in a grid pattern for a dramatic effect. Check it out in this photo, reflecting my flash. Cleverhood wins Best Costume of #MIN46 with the awesome "Electric Hounds-tooth" pattern rain cape.

Electric Hounds-tooth Rain Cape from Cleverhood
ViralGains is a marketing platform that maximizes sharing and conversation for online video. They're the ones to talk to if you want your brand's video to go viral. They were so popular I couldn't get a good photo of their demo table.

Also using video to solve a real problem was the team from Urvideoprofile. Their platform makes it easier and more convenient for people to find the perfect caregiver for their aging parents or their children, helping match experiences, skills, and personalities.

Florence from Urvideoprofile Presenting

Klurig Analytics analyzes Twitter streams for both real-time and long term trends in keywords and user sentiment. That's real-time market research!

Klurig Analytics
It was a great crowd, especially since there's a flu epidemic going on in Boston. There were lots of folks attending their first MIN. Lots and lots of networking went on throughout the evening.

Newcomers Raising Hands

More Networking
And yes folks, Bobbie C's new megaphone does have a siren but she declined to demonstrate it for us :)

Bobbie Wielding the New Megaphone
The Experts Corner was a little quiet, but innovators were definitely consulting the experts. Nate is our "Expert Looking Expert" for #MIN46.
Expert Looking Expert: Nate Therrien