You had Quiyk, the official supplier of the International Quidditch Association. OrigiArt, an online marketplace catered exclusively to student artists. Roof For Two, a weather protection product designed to shield South Asian motorcycle riders from inclement weather. The connection? They’re all run by students from the Greater Boston area, and reminded us at last night’s Boston Beta event just how much talent there is within the city’s colleges and universities.
Hundreds poured into Microsoft NERD for the student startup showcase, where 15 teams demoed their products. With at least four people crowded around each booth at a time, the evening was a good way for students to introduce themselves and show the community what it is they’ve been working on.
“We’re trying to help the community get connected to startups,” said Christian Perry, executive producer of Boston Beta, who helped hand-select the participating teams. Looking for factors like “quality, traction and coolness,” Perry strived to make the event “inclusive to a lot of different schools,” and was able to reel in students from several colleges in the area, including Emerson, Tufts, MIT, Harvard, Bentley and Boston University.
As visitors entered, they were handed poker chips. Used to designate who they felt deserved the “People’s Choice Award,” spectators tossed their chips into cups, and they were counted at the end of the night by the Boston Beta team.
Last night’s winner? Luvn’ Local.
Founded by a pool of past and present Bentley students, Luvn’ Local is a provider of loyalty services catered to local small businesses. With one quick scan of a QR code, Luvn’ Local digitizes loyalty for merchants and, in turn, rewards consumers for shopping locally. The company’s currently teamed up with five businesses in the Harvard Square neighborhood, including Mr. Bartley’s, and should be prepared to fully launch within the next month.
Among the other teams presenting was Greenbean Recycle, who’s incorporated real-time analytics, gaming and social media into its reverse vending machine, giving people an incentive to recycle. Jebbit, winner of the 2011 Boston College Venture Competition, also presented, demoing their platform, which allows companies to create questions highlighting their products and rewards college students for answering them correctly.
Overall, the night was a huge success. Anything that can bring together students, startups and the Greater Boston community is a beautiful thing, and we’re excited to see these companies grow. Special congratulations to Luvn’ Local!