Thursday, October 15, 2015

Women Rule #MIN79

Women entrepreneurs invaded the Innovation District for Women Entrepreneurs Week and Mass Innovation Nights MIN79. District Hall was jam-packed. Boston Harbor was looking a lot less icy than the last time I was in the district (must get there more often :-)).  I parked a short distance away from the hall so I could get in a bit of a walk, enjoy the weather, and take in the view from Marina Park.
Welcome to the Seaport Innovation District
On my waterfront walk, I reached the conclusion that Babson, one of the MIN79 sponsors,  is amazing before I even got to the event when I saw this ingenious advertisement:
Babson Must Have the Best PR Folks Ever

This MIN Women Founders event is part of Women Entrepreneurs Week in Boston. WEBOS is the City of Boston's program to support its women entrepreneurs and they were there in full force (and obviously got the color coordination memo for their outfits :-)). It was a delight to talk with them, and you should check out their programs.

The crowd was huge. The table display area was practically already full before the doors even officially opened.
This Crowded and the Event Hasn't Even Started Yet
It was great to see Sherry Handel of  Energy Harvesters again and follow how things are going with the Walking Charger™ , one of the coolest hardware inventions ever.  Imagine being your own power source.  Charge your mobile device batteries just by walking.  At first the Walking Charger will be integrated within footwear by companies like Wolverine and Timberland. The next step after that is a version that's swappable among footwear. I've been imagining putting one of these on my hiking boots since the first time I heard Sherry speak.  Energy Harvesters deservedly won the grand prize in the voting.
Sherry Handel of Energy Harvesters Talking Entrepreneurship with Amanda from Babson CWEL
Second place went to JumpSmart with their super fun way of helping kids ages 8-12 learn programming and creativity. Their interactive mat full of lights and sensors reminded me of the musical stairs at the Museum of Science. Kids interact with it by jumping on it and use a programming language on a tablet to create interactive games that use the mat. Engaging mind and body in teaching coding takes learning to a new level.

Beam impressed me with its simplicity and usefulness. It's an app that lets two people share their current locations in real time for an hour,  privately - just between the two of you. This beats the heck out of texting and calling repeatedly when trying to rendezvous for lunch with someone.  They definitely deserved their prize too.

You and Me as Map Pins
The other prize winner was  Cintell, a cloud-based "customer intelligence" platform that uses data  analytics to help companies to better understand their customers. It makes personas more dynamic and more detailed for way better insight into things like buying habits, preferences, and so on.

My personal favorite was Cabbige, an online business management tool specifically designed for small-scale agriculture.  It makes figuring out the best price for a crop, tracking inventory, and keeping records easy and centralized all in one tool. Anything that helps small farmers become more profitable gets my vote. Plus they had the most beautiful butternut squash on display.  Judging by what I've seen at the local farms around me out here in "rural vibe with mills" this has been a great year for butternut squash.
Beautiful Butternut Squash
MIN regular Susan Ahern introduced me to Canadian entrepreneurs Janine Kwoh and Lily Zou.  Janine designs/makes wonderful little cards that celebrate all kinds of sentiments for our absurd and diverse lives.  Boston and Bale includes Janine's Kwohtations cards in their bales.  Lily's company, NutraEx Food, makes a line of alternative natural sweeteners called Sugarlike to help you reduce sugar and calories but keep the taste.

Janine, Susan, Lily - Women Entrepreneurs
Janine's Kwohtations on the Boston and Bale Table
Boston and Bale delivers monthly or one time curated packages full of handcrafted products. What a great way to discover new local products. They donate a portion of their proceeds each month to a Boston-based charity/organization.
Boston and Bale
I liked the concept of Design SySTEM from Teaching Garage.  It's an online engineering curriculum for elementary schools. Here's hoping it inspires a new generation of innovators that's more inclusive of girls. (BTW, girl scientists rock, especially those related to me.)
Teaching Garage
It's about time somebody came up with a service like Date My Wardrobe, an online marketplace to rent high end fashion pieces available near you. Plus, they had the best prop - a really stylish high-heeled shoe. I hereby award it Best Prop of MIN79.
Best Prop of MIN79
Digaboom is a new collaboration platform and community for digital marketing, design and technology experts. It brings together all the talent for a particular project. Tracey, the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder,  gave an energetic presentation. The Digaboom team's matching t-shirts, edged out all the other matching t-shirt teams for Best Costume of MIN79 too.
The Babson WIN Lab featured entrepreneurs this month were Green Pinata Toys and Lusterity. I enjoyed talking with both of them.  Green Pinata is basically a toy-sharing service. Kids lose interest in their toys so quickly, it's great to be able to rent them. You can subscribe by the month or every 2 months and get a box of non-toxic toys delivered. Lusterity is a one stop event planning shop for socially conscious celebrations. They've got a pop-up "Make It Matter" marketplace coming up on November 15, which should be festive and fun and get your holiday celebration preparation off to a good start.
Green Pinata
For the traditional closing shot of Experts Looking Expert, I give you the women of Silicon Valley Bank, generous sponsor of MIN79.

Experts Looking Expert - Silicon Valley Bank

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