Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Kicking Off #WEBOSWeek with #MIN91 Women Founders Event

Mayor Marty Walsh and MIN Founder Bobbie Carlton Welcome the Crowd
Wow, what a night! Mass Innovation Nights' Women Founders event kicked off Boston's WE BOS Week in excellent Boston style with a welcome speech from Mayor Marty Walsh, a baker's dozen of women-founded startups, some really expert experts, and the cheesiest pizza ever (seriously, people were all talking about how cheesy the pizza was -- OK, a couple of people said "gloppy" but in a deliciously good way.) District Hall was a great host once again. Thanks, District Hall.

Artsy Rendering of District Hall
MIN events are getting to be a lot like old home week. I spent some time with Ted  Chaloner, a MIN regular since forever, before the doors opened.  And thank you, Ted, for the hot tea and good conversation. It was great to run into Lianna Kushi, Executive Director of  EforAll Lowell Lawrence. The coolest surprise was to run into poet, restaurant entrepreneur, and co-founder of FreeVerse! Joey Banh. I had not realized that he is now part of the team at EforAll -- bringing all that great experience to the Program Manager role.

I had so many great conversations with so many great people, especially one of the women from WE BOS with whom I chatted about women entrepreneurs in Boston's neighborhoods, and the Connecticut Innovation Nights folks who put up with my humor about whether Connecticut is a New England state.  Networking can be fun.
Crowd Listening to the Presenters
The four presenters were Stella Luna, Polis, Vissenger, and Womentum. All amazing. The grand prize in the audience voting went to WegoWise. The other three favorites were Vissenger, ConquerX, and Womentum. I didn't get a chance to talk with every single entrepreneur, let alone photograph them -- everybody was in high demand by the attendees and by multiple photographers.

My favorite was WegoWise, which uses data analytics to make buildings more energy efficient. Think of it, buildings -- like your apartment building or office building -- account for a big share of energy consumption in the USA. Making buildings more efficient is a big win for property managers and for the planet. WegoWise provides several different kinds of reports that help you identify opportunities for reducing energy consumption and track how well your fixes/updates worked. They got my vote and it's no surprise that they won the grand prize.
Another crowd favorite was Womentum, a crowdfunding platform with a unique pay-it-forward model for supporting women entrepreneurs around the world. The concept is brilliant and Prabha Dublish absolutely nailed the presentation.
Prabha Dublish Repping Womentum
Stella Luna, based in the historic jewelry city of Providence, introduced the beautiful  Moon + Star Thread Bracelets that symbolize relationships.Who is your moon and stars?

Stella Luna
Polis  gave a great presentation on how their canvassing app is making the revival of good old-fashioned door to door sales much more efficient.  They started out with political canvassing (cue flashback to my adolescence doing political canvassing for whatever campaign my mother was managing at the time -- if only this technology had existed in the 60s :-)). Seriously, it makes a lot of sense to send your solar panel salespeople only to homes that can actually buy solar panels. I'm looking forward to hearing how the revival of door to door sales unfolds.
Vissenger Demo
Vissenger's  video messaging for Chrome is the latest technology for making and sending short, personal messages quickly and easily. It's so simple to record and send the message right in the Chrome browser from whatever device you're using that I can see this becoming the video messaging app that finally fills the family contact niche.
CliqBit is a social media app specifically for sharing humor among the 20 and under demographic. Easy creation of memes and funny content is a big part of social life, and CliqBit provides the tools to do it. Loved their props too -- cardboard celebrities for selfies, cool shades, and more.
Date My Wardrobe
Date My Wardrobe is a cloud-based wardrobe marketplace that enables you to discover local fashion designers and rent (or buy) from their collections.  Do you need a fancy outfit for your appearance on a 30 Under 30 panel or a fundraising ball for your favorite charity? This is your go to spot for that kind of outfit. Not sure cloud-based ripped jeans and caffeine molecule t-shirts will ever be a thing, but I joked around with her about my wardrobe niche. Will somebody rent me a capsaicin molecule t-shirt? :-)

Describli -- Best Costume of #MIN91
Describli  provides data analytics tools to help you market your self-published book. I hereby award her Best Costume of #MIN91 because really all you need is an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters to create your content :-)
ConquerX was attracting a lot of attention for their new, simpler, more cost-effective approach to cancer diagnostics.
Science Club For Girls -- Looking Expert
And there were so many wonderful experts, it's hard to choose an Expert Looking Expert shot this time. Science Club for Girls and WE BOS rocked the expertise big time, so I give you both.

WE BOS Looking Expert