Thursday, June 11, 2015

Another Blockbuster Mass Innovation Night #MIN75

There was a line to get into Google Boston (which is actually in Cambridge -- familiar theme) for civic tech themed MIN75. Either interest in civic tech is booming in the greater Cambridge area or free adult beverages were the big draw. I prefer to think it's the interest in civic tech. Google deserves huge thanks for a spectacular job of hosting such a huge crowd.

The Beverage Line
The product tables were absolutely mobbed. The buzz of people chatting with entrepreneurs and/or networking with each other was the buzziest I've ever seen it and I've been to many a MIN. 
Just a Fraction of the Crowd Checking Out Products
In addition to the four presenters chosen by vote, a Student Startup Spotlight featured two startups from Bentley University (alma mater of my brother and his husband - obviously high quality). Zyp and theScarletH.
Zyp tackles the problem of  getting a cleaning service on demand and for a specific area. Their app brings the sharing economy to cleaning.  The Zyp team had matching T-shirts in a nice blue color, so I hereby designate them "Best Costume of MIN75".

Best Costume of #MIN75
TheScarletH brings personal safety to the dating app space.  Not only does it allow women to review a man's safety score but it also brings together a man's different dating personas. It sounds like a idea whose time has come.
The four chosen presenters were:
  1. WeVote  -making communication with your legislators easier
  2. CampusTap - a private social platform for college career services
  3. Lig - making legal simple
  4. Vocoli - suggestion box that actually works
It was wonderful to hear WeVote's ideas for increasing civic engagement by making government more transparent. I sincerely hope this leads to more people voting in local and midterm elections.
It was great to see Vocoli again. Veterans of MIN62 and PINSMASS001, the pitch keeps getting better and the need for a digital suggestion box with the ability to track your suggestions just keeps growing.

People's enthusiasm for CampusTap generated some of the best auto-correct errors on Twitter: collage for college and underground for undergrad. Hm, I think I will start referring to my "underground" years at Regis. :-)
There was a lot of enthusiasm for Lig too. Who wouldn't seek legal redress for a grievance if hiring a lawyer only took 5 minutes?

Don Letting Someone Try on his Glass
It's always great to run into Don Schwartz of New Hampshire Innovation Nights. He had a crowd gathered around him not just for info on his podcast or NH Innovation Nights, but also for curiosity about his Google Glass.

The prize winners were Bike Beacon, WeVote, CampusTap, and grand prize winner OpportunitySpace. Prizes were donated by Google and by InnovationWomen. The VentureFizz technology prize went to Vocoli. All well deserved.

The public sector - both the Baker administration and the Walsh administration - was well represented in the Experts Corner with Bill Oates, CIO of the Commonwealth, Chris Osgood, Co-Chair of the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, and Harlan Weber, a Commonwealth Innovation Fellow at MassIT.  Secretary Ash took a photo of the crowd and commented on the turnout as well as the ripped jeans. He looked very expert, so he gets to be the closing Expert Looking Expert.

Secretary Ash Looking Expert