Two new startups joined a growing list of success stories during the 10-Year Anniversary Celebration of the Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition Tuesday night — a celebration exemplary of what the challenge’s manager Inge Milde described as “an incredible groundswell of entrepreneurial activity” sweeping the university.
Undergraduate and graduate students gathered from programs across campus, including the School of Engineering, School of Medicine, Fletcher and Sackler Schools. The enterprising pool represented a diversity Tufts is building this powerhouse entrepreneurship program on, one that nearby colleges can no longer ignore.
Tufts President Anthony Monaco delivered opening remarks, commending the innovation that’s spread across disciplines. He mentioned “talks going on to elevate the program and bring it across the university,” and said it’s a movement he “will be putting every oomph behind.”
Five of Tufts Entrepreneurial Network student-led organizations exhibited at the Tufts $100K showcase Tuesday, including the Fletcher International Business Club, Tufts Innovation Club, Archimedes Project, Tufts Biomedical Business Club and Tufts Entrepreneurs Society. The Network, based out of the Gordon Institute, is meant to serve as a point of contact for “the growing and very active Tufts entrepreneurial ecosystem,” the very movement Monaco was referencing.
The organizations have helped shape several of winners of this year’s competition, including the recipient of the night’s Audience Choice Award Clair de Lune, a solar light distribution platform that uses existing remittance behaviors and ubiquitous private bus networks in West Africa to deliver lights to rural customers without electricity. The social startup also won the Fletcher School’s inaugural, $15,000 D-Prize, which is focused on funding proven poverty interventions.
The Tufts $100K, split into two tracks — social ventures and classic ventures — awarded six startups in total, divvying up $50,000 in cash and another more than $50,000 of in-kind services among them.
Walking away with the $13,000 grand prize in the social ventures track was ScriptEd, a startup aimed at equipping students with the fundamental skills and experiences necessary to become creators of technology. Founder and Tufts alumna Becca Novak said the team is currently working in New York, offering computer programming classes in under-resourced schools, as well as linking students with paid internships in computer programming.
“This is huge validation of the work we’ve been doing in New York,” said Novak of the win, adding the money “will help us reach more students.”
Jeremy Jo, co-founder of the $13,000 classic ventures track winner BeTH | Benevolent Technologies for Health, also described the first-place victory as “a validation of all the hard work the team has put in.” BeTH is creating an adjustable prosthetic liner aimed at increasing amputee comfort, while reducing fabrication time and overall costs.
The company, currently based out of hardware accelerator Bolt, previously won the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition’s 2013 Accelerate contest, as well as a $45,000 CASIS prize from MassChallenge. Jo said the money from the Tufts $100K will help BeTH continue product development and clinical testing.
With a tie for second in the classic ventures track, the other winners of the Tufts $100K included:
In the Social Ventures Track
$8,500 Second-Place Winner: AutismSees | Started by Danielle Feerst, Catherine Mitchell and Devika Patel, AutismSees creates tools that enhance presentation skills through rewards combined with a virtual audience mimicking human facial presence.
$3,500 Third-Place Winner: Virtudent | Started by Hitesh Tolani, Shant Hagopian and Thomas Filip, Virtudent employs tele-health technology to help reduce over-treatment, reduce insurance fraud and increase oral health care access for underserved populations via virtual dental visits.
In the Classic Ventures Track
$6,000 Second-Place Winner: GearCommons | Started by Michael Brown, James Rogers and Joel Weber, GearCommons is the first website for peer-to-peer outdoor gear rentals.
$6,000 Second-Place Winner: Protector Medical | Started by Briana Bouchard, Diana Burns and Claire Rogers, Protector Medical’s ivProtek provides a unique way to secure IVs that is streamlined, simple and painless.
Milde also introduced the winners of Tufts’ inaugural Ideas Competition, which provides early-stage startups with the mentorship, funding and support they need to bring their ideas to the next level — or rather, next year’s Tufts $100K. Each startup received $1,000 and included:
Trapsaver | Presented by David Leibenberg and Willem Sandberg, Trapsaver is a product to prevent the loss of sea fishing traps.
Hadori Catheter | Presented by Thormika Keo and Diana Winston, Hadori Catheter is a product to augment the effective visualized field during colonoscopy.
Syria Bicycle Company | Presented by Ely Teitsworth, Syria Bicycle Company is an enterprise aimed at employing displaced Syrians through bicycle manufacturing.