As 2012 comes to a close, there couldn’t be a better time to highlight the city’s students and all they have accomplished in the past year. Greater Boston’s colleges and universities have seen a banner crop of innovative business ideas—ideas they’ve helped foster with funding over the last 12 months.
Whether $500 or $100,000, the city’s schools have done what they can to boost the entrepreneurial spirit here in the Hub. Clearly, Zuckerberg isn’t the only one who knows how to make waves from a dorm room. Here’s a look at 50, now funded, ideas that have spun out of the various business competitions so far this year.
Focused on three words—imagine, invent and impact—over $50K in cash grants, and up to 12 months of free office space, are awarded to student startups who win the i3 Challenge. This year’s six major award winners included:
Shoesy — Shoesy provides personalized footwear recommendations based on biomechanical analysis of the user’s feet that identifies the perfectly fitting shoe quickly for an effective and enjoyable shoe-shopping experience.
Global Village Fruits – Global Village Fruits is bringing the world’s best fruits to the palm of your hands, starting with India’s jackfruit.
Instiglio – Instiglio is a social enterprise that improves social services in low- and middle-income countries. The company uses social impact bonds, also known as pay-for-success contracts, to bring together the best of the public, private and nonprofit sectors in order to improve results.
BigEd – BigEd is a web platform that weaves together the world’s best university courses into a unified map of human knowledge, on the concept level.
Healthy U & Me – Healthy U & Me is an international nonprofit, spreading preventive health literacy in developing countries, through an innovative health curriculum, taught via activity-based learning, like music, drawing and a community theater program.
This year, three teams walked away with their piece of the $15,000 in total prize money. They were:
Namib Beetle Design — Namib Beetle Design—a recent TechStars Boston company—is a biomimicry-inspired product based on the Namib Desert Beetle that uses nanotechnology to trap water from condensation to produce a sustainable method of collecting clean drinking water.
Maji Water Bottles – Standing for “water” in Swahili, Maji is a water bottle company working to solve the world’s water crisis. For every 1,000 Maji bottles sold, Maji provides a well for a village in a developing nation. Following the Boston College Venture Competition, Maji Water Bottles also won $1,000 from the new socially conscious BC Seed competition.
Hosted by the College of Management’s Entrepreneurship Center, the Business Launch Competition offers up three months access to the University’s Venture Development Center, 12 months access to services from HubSpot and Yesware, as well as a $2,500 cash and a legal consulting package provided by Goodwin Procter. This year’s first place winner was:
Dpicd —Dpicd compiles live updated pictures and videos at events, enabling people to see different perspectives from different people at the same event.
Divided into two categories—the Classic Business Plan Competition and the Social Entrepreneurship Competition—the contest awards two startups up to $15,000 in cash, as well as legal and advisory services. This year’s winners included:
PriceParrott – Winner of the Classic Business Plan Competition, PriceParrott, formerly known as PriceTrack, allows consumers to track articles of clothing from their favorite brands by specifying a price they would pay for that item. If the product falls to that price, the user receives an e-mail notification and link to the retailer’s website.
Keepin’ Tabs — Winner of the Social Entrepreneurship Competition, Keepin’ Tabs proposes a web-based communications and management tool on a streamlined tablet interface that facilitates multimedia communication between seniors and their families, offering a range of capabilities needed to empower seniors to manage their schedules, their health and their lives.
Sponsored by the School of Management’s Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization, the competition provides students and alumni with mentoring and advice from startup veterans, as well as prizes worth over $50,000. This year’s first place winner was:
KontrolTV — After getting Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to invest $500,000 in the company, winning the New Venture Competition was a cinch. Through KontrolTV, users will be able to connect their television experience with their social activity via their mobile devices, allowing for their friends to see what they’re watching on TV in real time.
Competing for nearly $20,000 in cash and legal services, Emerson’s business plan competition is a culmination of a year’s worth of work. The teams who took the top two spots were:
DJour Entertainment — DJour Entertainment is a high-class, high-tech DJ service that promises to bring “fun and style to all your parties and functions.”
Teams compete in three different categories—renewable energy, energy efficiency and deployment and infrastructure—for a shot at $200,000 and a chance to demo at the 2012 Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Washington D.C. This year’s grand prize winner was:
Radiator Labs – Radiator Labs has developed a low-cost, easily installed radiator retrofit that converts radiator heating systems, over which buildings typically have little control, into a highly controllable zoned system where each radiator represents a single zone with temperature feedback control.
Now in its 22nd year, the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition narrowed down the eight finalist teams to one Robert P. Goldberg grand prize, $100,000 winner, which was:
Filepicker.io — Formerly known as CloudTop, the former Y Combinator company is coined as “your desktop for the Internet.” The team’s web application, along with mobile iOS and Android apps, connects your online experience by bringing together your online file sources with online applications.
Standing for the Babson Entrepreneurial Thought and Action Challenge, the competition awarded $20,000 and “services in kind” donations to one graduate and one undergraduate startup. Those startups were:
RECONCRAFT – Winner of the graduate student category, RECONCRAFT is a manufacturer of custom shallow draft vessels built for military, law enforcement and emergency response purposes.
Sweet! Corn Tortilla Chips – The undergraduate award winner, Sweet! Corn Tortilla Chips, markets and sells the first tortilla chips to use real sweet corn as an ingredient, while maintaining a commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
Open to all Harvard MBA candidates, and now known as the New Venture Competition, the Contest comprises both the for-profit venture track and social venture track, awarding over $150,000 in cash and in-kind services to the winners and runners-up. This year’s two major category winners were:
eTransitions — Walking away with first place in the social venture track, eTransitions is a web-based solution that streamlines the transition of patients from the hospital to post-acute care facilities.
Vaxess Technologies — Winner of the for-profit venture track, Vaxess Technologies is working to commercialize a Tufts technology that stabilizes vaccines into a thin film strip which can be shipped and stored without refrigeration, eliminating the need for the cold-chain.
Sponsored by Northeastern’s Entrepreneurs Club, along with the school’s student-run venture accelerator, IDEA (below), the Husky Startup Challenge awarded teams with a piece of $5,500. With one grand prize winner per semester, the two big $2,000 winners were:
Lens Caddy – Lens Caddy is a device that helps photographers with interchangeable-lens cameras manage lenses by holding lenses by their mounts, eliminating the rear lens-caps that often slow down the process. Although still in development, founder Preston Turk has currently shelved the product to work on the Stow-Away lens cap folder.
Coherent Clothes — With the goal of bringing personal shopping to men everywhere, Coherent Clothes uses a system of algorithms to match men with the perfect clothing and accessories.
Announced by Harvard President Drew Faust earlier this year, the Challenge awarded a total of $100,000 to teams with a socially-conscious mission. The competition was divided into fix complex global issues—clean water, personal health, empowering education, global health and clean air—and the $70,000 grand prize team, along with the three runners-up, included:
Vaxess Technologies — A prior winner of Harvard Business School’s Business Plan Contest, Vaxess Technologies is working to commercialize a Tufts technology that stabilizes vaccines into a thin film strip which can be shipped and stored without refrigeration, eliminating the need for the cold-chain.
SPOUTS of Water — SPOUTS of Water is looking to create a self-sustaining ceramic water filter factory in Uganda.
Revolving Fund Pharmacy — The Revolving Fund Pharmacy team is tackling issues involving delivery of life-saving medications by creating a supply chain model for government health facilities in Kenya.
School Yourself — School Yourself is a startup proposing to bring books alive for a new generation of students accustomed to interactive games by creating immersive and interactive electronic textbooks in math and science for high school and college students.
After six weeks of workshops, students made their case for capital, pitching to a panel of judges for their shot at the $10,000 grand prize. The winner was:
Gentoo! — The startup’s first product, the “Portable Infusion Harness,” is designed to provide freedom and mobility to patients undergoing infusion treatments.
Harvard Business School’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship awarded eight entrepreneurial-minded teams with $5,000 earlier this semester. Focused on the Lean Startup methodology popularized by HBS Entrepreneur-in-Residence Eric Ries, the program supports student teams focused on rapid prototyping—a process that helps bring products to market as quickly as possible. The winning teams included:
ActivePepper — ActivePepper is a platform that helps people find sports partners and sports activities nearby. With ActivePepper, they can locate, for example, tennis partners, local pick-up basketball games, or running or cycling groups and then easily schedule their participation in these activities.
adtime — adtime is a mobile platform that rewards users for engaging with ads and providing high-value consumer data to potential advertisers.
chillbaby — chillbaby is a subscription service that provides parents with packages of children’s clothing specifically geared to a child’s age, style preferences and the season.
Cryoocyte — Cryoocyte aims to revolutionize the aquaculture industry by developing a technology to cryopreserve fish eggs.
DATAPiXY — DATAPiXY connects laptops, tablets and phones to the Internet when people are abroad for only $10 per day, thus eliminating roaming and other charges that lead to big bills.
The New Academy — The New Academy develops globally-competitive high school graduates through high-quality and affordable online education.
Outbreak – Outbreak provides an online platform with which businesses can implement a brand or product awareness campaign by hosting crowdsourced competitions.
Vorsorge-Wird-Vorfreude — Vorsorge-Wird-Vorfreude is an online brokerage for financial products in Germany that aligns product distribution with consumer interests.
Throughout the year, Northeastern’s venture accelerator commits up to $10,000 in Gap Funding to qualified ventures based on their capital needs. This year, IDEA awarded 14 startups with money, announcing a new winner today. (Congratulations, Presskit.to!) The teams who’ve received funding include:
Akrivis Technologies ($10,000) — Akrivis is a biotech company committed to the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening diseases. The company’s proprietary Z-TECT Technology Platform is designed to serve as a platform for the targeted delivery of radio– and chemo–therapeutic drugs for cancer treatments, as well as an ultra-sensitive detection tool.
Moniker Guitars ($10,000) — Moniker Guitars is a custom guitar maker that allows customers to design and purchase a new electric guitar online. The company offers thousands of combinations, enabling users to mix up colors, shapes, parts, sounds, text and graphic options.
Pure Pest Management ($10,000) — Specializing in the control of mosquitoes, ticks, deer and indoor bugs, Pure Pest Management sources their products from plant extracts and natural oils, giving them the ability to combat against pests in a capacity that’s both safe for the environment, as well as families.
Njabini Apparel ($10,000) — Njabini Apparel is a microenterprise that employs disadvantaged and disabled women in Kenya. The mothers employed hand-craft products using locally-sourced materials. Fifty percent is put back into their hands, and they then go through the team’s business and financial training program, so they can soon start companies of their own. Thirty percent of profits are then reinvested into Njabini Apparel’s growth and 20 percent is donated to Flying Kites Global, a nonprofit that operates a children’s home and primary school in Njabini.
Willo Cocktails ($10,000) —Hoping to give Skinnygirl a run for its money, Willo Cocktails is developing low-calorie, organic bottled cocktails perfect for the health-conscious consumer. Each drink is made with agave syrup, fresh-squeezed orange juice, lime juice and tequila.
Harper Lei ($10,000) —Created for women ages 18-35, Harper Lei is an apparel line focused on social and environmental responsibility. Every item is created from eco-friendly fabrics, such as micro modal, bamboo and organic cottons. The company is expected to debut its line in Spring 2013.
Biolom ($10,000) — Biolom produces biosensors for the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases. The company’s technology combines standard semiconductor fabrication techniques with nanotechnology, resulting in low-cost micron-scale biosensors that are capable of detecting multiple biomarkers simultaneously with high sensitivity and high specificity.
Narvii ($10,000) — Now known as Amino, the company is one creating a network of mobile apps, each of which is exclusively dedicated to a specific interest, such as video games, sports, travel, cooking, pets, anime or music.
Collaperty ($10,000) — Coined as the “first social commercial real estate network,” Collaperty gives users the ability to access risk-differing deals and securely connect and collaborate with qualified investors to close on deals managed by experts.
Presskit.to ($10,000) — Developed by Indie Ambassador, Presskit.to is an on-the-go-music portfolio designed to make users “look and sound [their] best.” By highlighting recent accomplishments in the “Wins” section, and neatly showcasing the best media and files, Presskit.to presents users’ work in a way to impress even the top music professionals.
USpin ($5,700) — USpin’s platform helps groups of friends organize their social outings by leveraging Facebook and the interest graph. By making targeted recommendations, along with a concierge component, USpin saves the planner and their friends time and energy. The startup also supports local businesses by establishing services that may augment the consumer’s social engagements.
Cobar Systems ($5,500) — Cobar Systems is a software services company that provides web-based solutions for organizations in the field of continuity management and disaster recovery.
Apifia ($5,000) — Looking to gamify social media, Apifia is developing applications that tap into Social Influence Marketing (SIM) and help identify social influencers. Their first product, SplashScore, is a Facebook application that gamifies users’ Facebook activity to reward online social influencers. Through three core elements—pond, ripple and splash—users can determine their social influence and compare their scores with friends.
Layla ($5,000) — Layla is a cigarette case designed to help users reduce the amount they smoke. Layla achieves that through tailored reduction, and by providing real time statistics on their smoking habits so that they can identify reasons for quitting that are important to them.