Thursday, February 26, 2015

#MINFoodie8 Recap

Still waiting for a new motherboard and new wireless adapter for my main computer, but figured I shouldn't wait any longer to blog about MINFoodie8, so here's a somewhat sketchier than usual blog post.
Wintry Boston Harbor
Mass Innovation Nights managed to find the one gap between storms in the past three weeks to get us out of our snow banks and into some cool foodie innovations for  #8 in the MIN Foodie series. Our generous host for the evening was Nutter McClennen and Fish. Great hosts! Thank you!

I enjoyed tasting Lyndigo Spice's  small batch, locally made, spice rub and chutney, especially the spice rub on the roasted chickpeas. Plus, the Lyndigo Spice team had matching t-shirts and matching scarves so I have to award them Best Costume of MINFoodie8.
Lyndigo Spice Team
Fresh Beginnings makes conveniently portioned, wholesome and nutritious frozen meals for young children  -- I think I saw them at an EforAll event but don't remember which one -- anyway, their samples were delicious.

Fresh Beginnings
Tasty Healthy Treats
Rhode Island Organic Omega-3 makes fantastic salad dressings, marinades and sauces full of healthy Omega-3s. I loved the salad dressing.
Omega-3 Salad Dressing provides information and details on more than 4,150 food trucks and food truck events all in one spot.  And I loved their homage to Haven Brothers Diner. I hereby award them Best Prop of MINFoodie8.
Haven Bros. -- The Original Food Truck?
ScanKart is a hyper-local mobile marketplace to discover artisanal food, wine makers and specialty retail stores in your neighborhood.
al FreshCo has a brilliant idea for  making food grown by great local farmers more accessible. They deliver  "meal kits" with everything  you need to make a delicious locally grown meal. Who can resist local butternut squash already peeled and cut up for you and delivered along with everything you need to turn it into dinner? And they know what to do with that kohlrabi that mystifies you.

Nu3Kidz gourmet pancake mix takes pancakes to a new, healthier, more fabulous level. I mean who can resist quinoa beet pancakes? Not me! (I adore beets and love quinoa.)
Delicious Pancakes

The Wine Sidekick is a wine and beer recommendation kiosk for liquor and grocery stores.
Wine Sidekick

Chirp chips  from SixFoods are  bean-based chips with cricket protein. They have 3x the protein and half the fat of normal potato chips. Insect protein is the next big thing in food circles.

Over in the Experts Corner, I got ace wordsmith Alan Dilingham to ham it up for my traditional "expert looking expert" shot.  If you need help finding the right words to communicate your message, Alan's Verbal Alchemy is your solution. Thanks, Alan for being such a good sport looking expert.

Expert Looking Expert Alan Dilligham

Monday, February 9, 2015

Recap #EforAllPitch16 - EforAll Consumer Product Ideas Pitch Contest

Moon Over Lawrence's Bicknell Clock
The day after the great blizzard of 2015, the intrepid entrepreneurs of EforAll turned out for the Consumer Ideas Pitch Contest at the Lawrence Heritage State Park Visitor Center.  The post-snowpocalypse traffic apocalypse tied up the highways into and out of Boston, but we here in the Merrimack Valley are self-sufficient or something like it.  Anyway, despite a power outage at my house (since when does the power go out after the storm is over and we're plowed out?) there was no way I was going to miss this event, because not only was it minutes from my house, but also it featured my very favorite hedgehog! Yes, folks, Eugene was there!

Scheduled presenters were Cognitea, Demi Hugger, Masela Dental, Meet Eugene, NexVolt, and The Power of Flowers.

Alex Kravets of  CogniTea, in the first scheduled slot, was stuck in the Boston traffic apocalypse, so had to present his "energizing tea" pitch later.  I love the idea of a stimulant that gives you the clarity and focus of a cuppa, without the jitters and subsequent crash or caffeine withdrawal headache. Love the marketing concept of an energy drink targeted for entrepreneurs and innovators. Wish I'd gotten a chance to try some.

Demetra Papas presented  Demi Hugger, her cleverly designed premium luggage strap that stacks all those non-suitcase items like your blanket, backpack, soccer ball, or giant teddy bear onto to your luggage for easier dragging through terminals and lobbies. The match of price point with pain point is just about right. If you travel with kids or with lots of stuff or both,  it's worth checking out.
DemiHugger -- Clever Luggage Strap
Cormac Hondros McCarthy and Casey McRae had clearly researched the market for affordable dentures and figured out how to apply 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) to the problem. They brought a prototype with them and posed for me with it. I enjoyed talking with both of them about how many UML students are working on ways to use additive manufacturing to solve real problems in the real world for real people. We also discussed whether to call it additive manufacturing or 3D printing and decided that more people have heard of 3D printing. Anyway, remind me again why CES and other tech extravaganzas present 3D printing with novelties like custom bobble heads? Low cost dentures -- I mean, we're talking $500 dentures here! That is amazing. We chatted briefly about another of my favorite UML-based companies, Nonspec, which is using 3D printing technology to make low cost  prosthetics.

3D Printed Dentures
Eugene brought his personal entrepreneur, Brianna Stiklickas, to talk about Meet Eugene, Inc. Brianna has a good grip on what the needs of pet hedgehogs are and what the market is for supplies for people who have pet hedgehogs.  Pet hedgehogs are prone to digestive problems and obesity, and Meet Eugene has developed hedgehog-specific pet food to help keep your pet healthy. Eugene looked pretty healthy to me, and he let me stroke his quills this time.  Eugene has been to Lawrence before and has also been to Mass Innovation Night.

Paul Ormond and Paul Russell presented NexVolt, a website that simplifies choosing more efficient home heating systems and getting valuable rebates all in one spot. Their knowledge of the water heater supply chain and how all the parts could be more easily connected was quite impressive. They easily won over the judges. First prize was well-deserved.

Joyce Bellefeuille's  The Power of Flowers Project, which I started calling Flower Power just to see if any hippies noticed, rescues and recycles flowers from funerals, banquets , and weddings and makes them into  small bouquets and delivers them free to senior citizens. What a great idea to recycle perfectly good flowers to bring a little joy and beauty into people's lives.  The Power of Flowers is a non-profit.  Joyce nailed the presentation, presented bouquets to the judges, and won second prize as well as fan favorite.  Anyone who wanted one got to take home a bouquet. Mine brightened up my kitchen for days.

Joyce Showing Flower Bouquet to David

Activity Hub got the wildcard slot. They help you master the skill or activity that matters the most to you -- becoming the best chef, photographer, Ruby on Rails coder, scrum master... whatever. Sorry I didn't get a link.

A couple of other products caught my attention and both of them got to do lightning quick pitches between the main pitches.

The Jafette is a scarf that transforms into a jacket and fits all sizes.  The many configurations make for lots of different looks from the same great looking scarf.

Hangwell is underwear that doesn't bunch up. No wedgies, no riding up, just comfort.

Hangwell Bunch Resistant Underwear

The Lawrence Heritage State Park Visitor Center is a really cool place, by the way. If you've never been there, add it to your must-see list. Besides the two floors of  awesome exhibits about Lawrence's history, there are frequent art exhibits in the the third floor gallery next to the event space where the pitch contest was held. 

Love the Judges in Front of Fasanella Painting