Friday, September 26, 2014

Good People of Lowell

Two of my photos of the poets and artists of Lowell were selected for this show at the Zeitgeist Gallery, which features residents of Lowell in and around the city. Looks like I'm in some good company too. I can't wait to see the other photographers' work. Come check it out Oct 2- 26.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mass Innovation Nights #MIN66 Recap

The MIN Crowd Mingling and Enjoying Pizza Provided by Cummings
Wednesday's Mass Innovation Night number 66 featured another great lineup of products and a great space provided by Cummings. Oh, and they provided pizza. Thanks, Cummings! So besides pizza and a great space, the event featured a wide-ranging assortment of products. The diversity of innovation showcased at Mass Innovation Nights is always amazing to me.
Northeastern Entrepreneur Lamar Talking About  Hydrolite
The new Student Startup Spotlight featured a couple of entrepreneurs from Northeastern's IDEA program: Hydrolite, a vitamin water,  and Genius Box, a program that delivers a monthly package of STEM activities to homes.  I especially liked Genius Box because the activities boxes had definite budding scientist appeal (the Girl Scientists would have loved these kits when they were young scientist wannabes).
Genius Box Full Of Cool Stuff
TechBootCamps's table was attracting lots of attention for its 8-week program to turn you into a Drupal developer.
Who wouldn't want to invest 8 weeks to qualify for a $92K-$95K per year job?
The 3D scanner from Dot Product attracted a big crowd too.  Imagine turning your tablet into a device that gives you the ability to capture the real world in 3D, with accurate measurements and all, while you're out there in the real world. This definitely takes 3D modeling to another level.
Dot Product
I moved from 3D modeling to online dating with just a few steps over to Ken from Jess, Meet Ken. We all know great guys who'd be fantastic for one of our girlfriends, but not for us, right? The old fashioned fix-up meets technology!
he crowd was so into checking out the tables, that it was hard to round everybody up to go upstairs for the presentations. Everyone seemed to be having a seriously good time.
The 4 chosen presenters were:
  • Energy Harvesters' Walking Charger
  • The Metropolitan from Upstanding Designs
  • JenytaMarket
  • Vsnap
JenytaMarket talked about their cloud-based e-procurement process management product. It allows buyers and suppliers to collaborate in real-time.
Jenyta Presenting
Energy Harvesters Sherry Handel
Walking Charger from Energy Harvesters  is easily the coolest thing of the night. I'd seen Sherry Handel talk about it before at the Merrimack Valley Sandbox Summit in June.  Just think of it, you can charge your smartphone battery by walking for just a single hour wearing the Walking Charger. I definitely want that embedded in my hiking boots.
Dave Talking Vsnap
Speaking of products I'd heard about before, it was great to see how Vsnap has evolved since I first encountered them at MIN30. Wow, that was awhile back! Love the emphasis on how enterprises can make their customers feel valued by sending quick, personal video messages.  And there's real-time analytics too! Still a neat idea.
Upstanding Designs
Sitting at a desk all day at work is not good for you. Upstanding Designs makes a line of adjustable height furniture for corporate and home offices. Whose office wouldn't be better with stylish and well-crafted adjustable furniture? The Metropolitan is a big improvement over the other clunky stand-up desks that are out there now.

The winners of the American Airlines Business Extra points were:
  •  Lubax (mobile app for skin disease identification)
  •  Dot Product
  •  Upstanding Designs - The Metropolitan
  • Top prize: Energy Harvester's Walking Charger
There was no "Experts Corner" so instead of an "Expert Looking Expert", here's the Best Prop of MIN66.

Orange Tennis Balls To Match The Orange Laptop

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Entrepreneurship for All Summer Accelerator Awards Recap

A Logo and a Mission Statement in One
Tuesday night's celebration of the summer accelerator program participants was also the official announcement of the name change from Merrimack Valley Sandbox to Entrepreneurship for All so it was a doubly exciting event. The product showcase was a great opportunity to catch up with all the finalists, most of whom I have seen at more than one pitch contest or event. I'm truly impressed with how all of the finalists have benefited from the program and taken their products and their pitches to the next level.

Huge Crowd
There was a huge crowd at the Everett Mill for the event and things were bustling around the product showcase tables and the food table. BTW, the stuffed mushrooms were delicious.

Delicious Appetizers
The new name and logo was everywhere, so by the time David Parker began the opening remarks, he could be sure everyone already knew what the highly anticipated "big announcement" was.  It's an exciting change that really puts the organization's mission and philosophy front and center. Entrepreneurship for All is the heart and soul of what drives the organization.

David Parker Welcoming Us
Marianne Paley, the owner of Everett Mills, welcomed us to the historic building, now a growing business center right in the heart of downtown Lawrence. If the name Everett Mills sounds familiar to you, it's because something really important happened here in 1912. In fact we just had a festival on Campagnone Common on Labor Day to commemorate that event.  It's kind of amazing to think of the changes this old building has witnessed.

Our Host Marianne Paley, Owner of Everett Mills
Deshpande Foundation co-founder, Desh Deshpande, congratulated the finalists and  introduced the keynote speaker, Gerald Chertavian. Deshpande is always inspiring even in short introductory remarks.

Desh Deshpande
Gerald Chertavian spoke passionately about the importance of entrepreneurship to job creation and of social enterprise and shared responsibility. Chertavian grew up in Lowell, graduated from Harvard Business School, and made a career on Wall Street before turning his attention to addressing America's opportunity gap by founding Year Up. Year Up teaches young people the skills they need to move into the professional work force. Poverty to professional career in a year!

Keynote Speaker - Gerald Chertavian, Founder and CEO of Year UP
Veronica Chapman of My Crowning Jewel gave the class address. I'm starting to feel like Veronica is becoming an old friend because I've watched her pitch her stunning head wraps at various events since #MIN46 (that was like 20 Mass Innovation Nights ago!)

Veronica Chapman
Each of the finalists got to do a 1-minute pitch and it was amazing to hear the diversity of their enterprises and the polish of the their pitches. Well done!

EforAll Finalists
This awards celebration featured the first Christina Hamilton Award. I started to tear up when Christina's family came forward to present the award to Michael Bertrand of Edible Land Designs. Christina was the Founder of Delightful Surprise Sweets, a Lowell-based venture that sold delicious fudge in many different flavors. Christina was a participant in the 2014 winter accelerator program , who passed away suddenly in February. Christina was one of the most determined and inspiring entrepreneurs I have met, and it is a wonderful thing that EforAll has established this award in her memory. The Christina Hamilton Award will be presented to one participant in every future accelerator class who exemplifies her characteristics of grit and determination. You can read a bit more about Christina and this award on the EforAll website.

Christina Hamilton's Family Ready to Present the Christina Hamilton Award in Her Memory
Besides giving an inspiring speech, Veronica Chapman was one of the $5000 award winners.

Veronica Chapman
Other winners were Leanne Tremblay of Loomination, Nkese Applewhite of Oshun Undies,  Nareth Muong of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association's (CMAA) translation service,  the UMass Lowell Support our Students program, and Brian Dutton from Asinine Games who won the $1000 MassDiGi award.

Nareth Muong
Mai Le Libman  and Sagi Yaacoby of Savione, a platform that makes it easy to shop local, won the largest prize, $7000.  I remember being impressed with Savione back in April at the all ideas pitch contest.

Mai Le of Savione
It was great to see Sovanna Pouv, the new Executive Director of CMAA and long time supporter of  Entrepreneurship for All. Sovanna and Visal posed with Nareth and his big check.

I ran into so many people I know at this event that I am truly beginning to believe I'm not that bad at networking after all. :-)

Oh, and the moon peeked out from behind the clouds briefly just as I left the Everett Mill. Nice night.

Moon Peeking Through the Clouds over Lawrence