Tuesday, April 29, 2014

#MIN61 - Mass Innovation Nights Meets Merrimack Valley Sandbox

Canal Looking Great Today
On April 9, the Merrimack Valley Sandbox hosted Mass Innovation Nights #MIN61 at their wonderful space in the Wannalancit Mill in Lowell. A sunny spring evening brought out the beauty of the mills and canals brilliantly. Having two such great entrepreneurship-boosting organizations together in a city symbolic of American entrepreneurship gave the event a special feeling. To make it even more special,  Mass Innovation Nights was celebrating their 5th anniversary.
Wannalancit Mill - Home of Merrimack Valley Sandbox
A walk along the North Canal proved a great way to loosen up for the evening. There was plenty of urban beauty to photograph.
Megaphone Meets Sandbox
People began arriving early, while people were still setting up their demo tables. Our hosts provided snacks, which included wonderful (and wildly popular) egg rolls. Much networking took place over the egg rolls. :-)

Early Arrivals
The diversity of products at both MIN and Sandbox events always amazes me. This one was no exception. There were all kinds of products from games, songs, and stories to knives, grilling supplies, and apps.
Pleasant Dreams
One of the more intriguing products was Pleasant Dreams: A Card Game of Nightmares,  a 1 or 2 player card game in which the players are in a dreamworld where they try to prevent their dreams from becoming nightmares.
Anyone can be a designer at ShopRagHouse. Members vote for their favorite designs and ShopRagHouse makes the winning designs into samples for crowd funding. When the crowd funding goal is met, they produce the designs.
Parker River Knife
Parker River Knife produces personalized pocket knives.Their first model is the Parker River "Classic", inspired by the knives our grandfathers carried years ago. With the classic styling and the personalization options, this is the perfect gift for outdoors people. The shop is located in Newbury along the banks of the Parker River.
Best Costume and Cool Product
The product that really had everybody talking was Grill Easy™ Natural Lump Charcoal. Imagine firing up your grill without all the mess and the charcoal lighter fluid. The solution is simple. It's a single use, recycled cardboard container with an internal vent system. Just place the container into the grill and light the wick. The container burns off while igniting the charcoal and it's ready to use in under 15 minutes.
It was great to see Susu Wong of Tomo360 again. Tomo360 provides customized marketing campaigns and online strategies to help companies generate new business, specializing in meeting the marketing needs of the health care industry.
Story to Song
I had a great time talking with Marieke Slovin about stories. Story to Song is another one of those perfect gifts. How about turning a great family story into a song? Marieke works with individuals to compose songs from the stories of their lives. She also leads songwriting workshops for youth and adults.
HubEngage is the latest product from Mobinett. HubEngage helps brands increase sales and  loyalty through gamification and customized rewards. The cool thing is that it rewards both your customers and your employees for increasing engagement.

Who hasn't longed for a simple alternative to exchanging printed business cards? Inigo is a product that is definitely overdue, an interactive business card that completely replaces paper.  It's a free app that allows users to create online "cards"  linking new acquaintances to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, websites, resumes, videos, or anything the user can find online. Not only that, the people you meet don't have to download anything. The cards you send are web based URLs and can be opened from anywhere. The only thing that stopped me from using this app immediately is that it's currently Android-only. The iPhone version is still in development.
Mill City Glass
It's always great to run into Peter Zimmerman of Mill City Glass Works, whether it's at Mass Innovation Night, a Sandbox event, or an arts event. Peter and Aaron had some beautiful work on display. That purple fish really caught my eye.

Packed House
By the time presentations were ready to start, quite a crowd had assembled. It was great to see people who had never been to a Mass Innovation Nights event or a Sandbox event. I even met some people who hadn't been to Lowell before.
David Parker Welcomes Us to the Sandbox

Indigo Pixies Tells Us about the Paci Pixie
The presentations were excellent as usual. The Indigo Pixies customer story about a child's experience with the Paci Pixie was quite moving.
Sierra Look-alikes
There were attendees of all ages. It's great when young people come to these events. It was fun to meet Christine's daughter, Abby, who looks exactly like Christine.

MIN 5 Years!

BobbieC with Cake!
No 5 year anniversary celebration is complete without cake, so of course there was cake. BobbieC did the ceremonial cake cutting and attendees enjoyed the cake at least as much as the egg rolls.

And no MIN blog post is complete without an "Expert Looking Expert" and Jeremy fit the bill. If you need to add video to your social media presence, Jeremy is your go to guy. Nobody knows how to make the most of Vine better than Jeremy.
Expert Looking Expert - Jeremy

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