Rendever

Who's on your team?

Dennis Lally, MIT Sloan, CEO

Charles Lin, MIT IDM, UX

Kyle Rand, Head of Product

Tom Neumann, Head of Engineering

What problem are you trying to solve?

Isolation and depression in the aging population

What is your solution?

A virtual reality platform to provide cognitive stimulation, socialization and immersive therapeutic experiences

What inspired you to start your company?

Personal experience of loved ones struggling with the aging process

What's been the most surprising aspect of this process?

Learning about the amazing life stories of our users and spending time with each of them has been extremely rewarding on a personal level

What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

Don't lose focus

What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

The opportunity

PipeGuard

Who's on your team?

You Wu, MIT PhD '18 in Mechanical Engineering, inventor of the robotic leak detection technology.
Daniel Gomez, MIT MBA '18, with five years of management consulting experience.
Jonathan Miller, MIT MS '18 in Integrated Design & Management, MBA, MassChallenge 2014 Gold Winner.
Pedro Ortiz, Business development partner in Mexico, President and Founder of MSD Consulting SC. in Monterrey, Mexico

What problem are you trying to solve?

Every day, more than 20% of all clean water produced around the world is leaked from the distribution pipes. We are in a mission to help water companies find and stop leaks.

What is your solution?

Our solution is a robot named Daisy. Robot Daisy can locate leaks with her innovative skirt sensor while she is traveling inside the water pipes. The most outstanding aspect of Daisy is that she can accurately locate leaks that are too small for current technology to detect. Thus we enable the water companies to do preventative maintenance, fixing the leaks before they grow into pipe bursts.

What inspired you to start your company?

PipeGuard is the outcome of a research project in Mechatronics Research Lab in MIT. Nine years ago, the research sponsor from Saudi Arabia told us that more than 33% of their expensive, desalinated water in the nation is leaked every day. Their pipes are plastic and none of the existing technology which were developed for metallic pipes could effectively detect leaks on plastic pipes. We started a journey to help them find leaks and save water. After nine years of research, we have finally taken the technology from zero to a field-validated stage, and thus PipeGuard is born.

What's been the most surprising aspect of this process?

We were constantly surprised by people telling us why water leaks is more than a loss of water. When small leaks grow into pipe bursts, they undermine or destroy roads and other infrastructure. People in wetland and wildlife preservation told us that leaks forced communities to draw more water from local bodies of water than they needed, and thus accelerated the decline of local wetland ecosystems. City officials in developing nations said that the poor often suffered the most from water shortage, and water leaks made it even more difficult to secure their access to clean water, a basic human right. Leaks could also contaminate the water in the pipes and threaten consumers’ health. Policy scholars informed us of how leaks killed opportunities for developing nations. Many cities in developing countries were turned away by talents, investors and companies because they did not have a supportive infrastructure such as a reliable water service. Consequently they lost global competitiveness, suffered from slower economic growth and less funding for infrastructure improvement. That was a downward spiral toward the worst.

What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

Get customers. That is the best advice we received. A technology is not going to be useful without constantly having users in the mind, and so is a company without customers. So far PipeGuard has pilot projects set up with real customers, municipal water companies in Mexico and China. Through engaging with the customers, we were able to evolve our offering from just a robot that could tell them how bad their water pipe system was, which stressed them out, to a hardware and big data solution that could help them figure out an actionable plan to repair their pipes. Thus we are going to make their job easier, and at the same time, find leaks and save water.

What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

We are excited and thrilled to share our stories and our visions to the audience and public at the 100k Launch final. We wish to inspire more people to think about what they can do to contribute to solving the global water challenges.

NeuroSleeve

Who's on your team?

Dr Louwai Muhammed obtained his undergraduate degree with a major in Neuroscience from Cambridge University (UK). He then completed his Medical Degree at Oxford University (UK) before spending 2 years working as a medical resident in London. His main focus has been on academic neurology research at The Queen Square National Institute for Neurology in London. Louwai is now completing a Master's degree at Harvard University on a British Kennedy Scholarship.

Mr Matthew Carey completed his first undergraduate degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a second undergraduate degree in Robotic Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He then obtained a Master's degree in Computer Systems from Northeastern University. He has worked at several startups (including ReThink Robotics and Humatics), as well as running a research and development program with a Fortune 500 company for several years. Matthew is currently a candidate in the MIT Sloan MBA program, graduating in 2017.

What problem are you trying to solve?

We are lowering the costs associated with the electrophysiological diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). CTS is a very common disease that occurs when a key nerve of the hand becomes trapped at the wrist. It is often diagnosed in the United Stated by using expensive electrical tests, but we hope to improve access to these neurophysiological tests for patients in developing countries. This will allow more patients to receive curative treatment and prevent the disease from progressing to a debilitating loss of hand function.

What is your solution?

We have developed a low-cost and automated nerve conduction sleeve for the diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The device uses electrical impulses to assess the function of the nerves in the upper limb. It can be used with minimal training, is highly specific, and extracts electrical nerve data with a high signal-to-noise ratio.

What inspired you to start your company?

While Louwai was working as a medical resident, he saw a patient in London who had arrived from a developing country and was complaining of very weak hands. He found it extremely difficult to use his hands for even simple tasks due to severe wasting of the muscles around his thumb. After several tests, it was confirmed that this wasting was the result of carpal tunnel syndrome that had gone undiagnosed for many years. The next day, Louwai sketched out a method to combine a sequence of electrical tests into an automated device that could detect carpal tunnel syndrome with high specificity and for a low-cost. Louwai and Matt subsequently met in a class at MIT several months later, and Louwai happened to mention the idea to Matt outside Kendall/MIT T-Station. They quickly realized that their combined backgrounds were perfectly suited to making this device a reality, and so they entered the design into the MIT $100k Accelerate competition. Many late nights and pizza boxes later, they were awarded the grand prize at the MIT Accelerate Competition in February, which inspired them to develop an updated prototype. They hope that this design will allow patients in remote locations to be screened for carpal tunnel syndrome without the need for specialists.

What's been the most surprising aspect of this process?

We were so pleased by how helpful everyone has been in guiding us through the process and giving us advice. We are both new to the medical device space and only started the venture in December 2016, so it is great to see so many people eager to help entrepreneurs in the very early stages.

What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

It really is true that rapid prototyping and fast iteration is vital. When developing any technology, you should aim to produce a minimal viable product as quickly as possible so that you can test and validate both the product and market need. This massively speeds up the learning process and helps you get something useful out there in the shortest possible time.

What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

The chance to present on stage at the Kresge Auditorium and take part in an event that has been part of MIT's culture and history for so many years.

NeuroMesh

Who's on your team?

Caleb has deep expertise in IoT while working on the venture team at ARM to invest in smart cities and on the investing team at Samsung to invest in IoT. He has strong relationships with IoT teams at both firms and has been leveraging them to assist with research and product development. Prior to Sloan, he was a technology investment banker and investor and has advised/invested in security companies Blue Coat Systems and Allot. He obtained a degree in pure mathematics from University of Pennsylvania. Caleb leads corporate development efforts and research in new innovative technologies.

Greg is a PhD Candidate at MIT in IoT Cybersecurity. His dissertation topic concerns evaluating security risk for IoT devices. Prior to his PhD, he was an executive at Accenture where he founded and led their Smart City IoT Strategy group which worked with global cities to develop IoT solutions for critical infrastructure. He was irritated by the smoke and mirrors behind the “security” provided for IoT and left to work on his PhD and NeuroMesh to solve this problem. Greg has started several ventures prior to Neuromesh. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. Greg is the technology lead who oversees the product research & development.

Pavel has deep expertise with blockchain. He worked on an independent study at MIT on blockchain and worked on NASDAQ’s blockchain project. He has led our blockchain engineering efforts for IoT devices.

Carlos is a hacker with considerable software development experience. He completed his undergrad in Course 6 at MIT and is currently working on his MEng in Computer Security for IoT systems. He has worked for MIT’s IS&T security team and is eager to develop IoT security solutions. Carlos is the lead enterprise software engineer.

Kel is a product manager with strong cybersecurity experience as a Senior Cybersecurity PM with Cisco. Prior to Cisco, he launched the video camera division at Alarm.com, overseeing the group as they installed over half a million IP cameras. He leads our enterprise product development efforts.

Rahul is an electric grid expert. He studied electrical engineering at IIT Madras, worked at Schlumberger and McKinsey, and is a leader at the MIT Energy Club. He has deep knowledge of the network infrastructure of the utilities and electric grid. He leads the business development efforts.

What problem are you trying to solve?

Critical infrastructure, such as industrial control systems, have implemented IoT devices called Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to digitally manage meters and substations. However, in the past two years, the Ukrainian electric grid was taken down twice by hackers. In December 2015, 225,000 lost power in Ukraine due to malware placed on energy distribution systems.

The U.S. electric grid may be more vulnerable than the electric grid in Ukraine. Ukraine’s electric grid had manual controls without digital overlay to enable power. However, in the United States, most controls are all automated and digital; if the power supply infrastructure is infected with malware, the whole electric grid could be compromised with no mitigation. According to North American Energy Reliability Corporation, the U.S. electric grid is worth more than $1 trillion and supplies power to 334 million people.

The US electric grid is not the only digitized grid that is vulnerable. European utilities have also moved towards internet-enabling their industrial systems, which has afforded convenience and increased maintenance response times - but also poses a substantial security liability. Noticing this gap in security for the grid, Iberdrola, a leading utility in Spain, has engaged NeuroMesh to work with their industrial systems and retail energy market device manufacturers to secure the utility infrastructure.

Critical infrastructure, such as the electric grid, is reliant on technology called Industrial Control Systems (ICS). ICS is composed of reliable, long-lasting and expensive controllers that govern discrete, mostly deterministic processes. While the electric grid is a good example indicating the scale of importance of ICS, other critical infrastructure including but not limited to transportation systems, water networks, oil and gas refineries and distribution systems rely on ICS as well.

Between 2016 and 2020, the ICS security market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.09% considering the constant stream of threats to ICS devices and the importance of their seamless operation. In 2016, the ICS security market was valued at $9 Billion annually.

Industrial control systems have been shown to be vulnerable to cyberattacks as seen in high profile attacks such as Stuxnet. Many industrial control systems are directly connected to the internet. The emerging notion of an Industrial Internet of Things which entails the idea of integrating industrial and manufacturing processes by connecting sensors, effectors and controllers through the internet poses great cyberattack risk to such devices. A broad variety of reports forecast a rapidly growing IIoT infrastructure.

Multiple security approaches have been proven to be ineffective for IIoT EDS devices. There are multiple reasons for this. One is that antivirus programs house gigabytes of data and malware memory signatures. Considering the low memory, low processing power for these devices, it is impossible to run such solutions. Alternative anti-malware solutions such as certificates can work for identity management of IIoT devices, but it has been shown that certificate authorities can be spoofed. The certificate authority is a single point of failure of the identity security system.

Because of the deterministic nature of IIoT systems, malware, in general, does not attempt to steal personal information; instead it converts the device into a bot that can attack other systems as part of a botnet. Being part of a botnet renders the IIoT device unreliable - the device control is lost to the botnet controller and this is unacceptable for critical energy systems.

Another complication of ICS security is that they cannot handle operational downtime required for firmware updates that generally include security patches. Because many of these industrial IoT systems are constantly running 24/7 critical infrastructure, they cannot be taken offline even for a brief period for a system update. Some of these systems have been in the field for +20 years and any attempt to update the core of the ICS software could be catastrophic for associated operations. Because downtime is an issue, the software for many legacy systems has never been touched and the antiquated (but still in use) software is riddled with security vulnerabilities. Imagine attempting to recompiled firmware for a nuclear substation - would you want the cooling tower for the fuel rods to be running without a control system even for a minute?

The question becomes, how do you secure and provide security updates to these extremely sensitive ICS devices without disrupting operations in a space and processor efficient way?

What is your solution?

By using hackers tools against the hackers, NeuroMesh has developed a patent-pending vaccine for IoT by injecting NeuroNode endpoint security into IoT devices’ kernel. Our platform provides managed security and intelligence for IoT devices. NeuroNode is light-weight and provides malware protection and intrusion detection. NeuroNode also sends traffic data to the NeuroCloud to analyze for any abnormal behaviors.

NeuroMesh secures data transfers through a proven, existing communication infrastructure for distributed systems - the bitcoin blockchain. We have developed a proprietary architecture to deploy an unhackable command and control (C&C) interface, NeuroCloud, over the bitcoin blockchain which can be deployed across IoT devices. NeuroCloud will serve several purposes: monitor and transfer traffic across IoT devices, relay commands to IoT devices to shut down traffic to malicious sites, store a blacklist of unauthorized communication points for each IoT device and nuke malicious botnets or malicious code that resides on a given IoT device.

What inspired you to start your company?

Caleb, (MIT Soan '17) met Greg (MIT PhD Candidate in Cybersecurity) in fall of 2016 at an MIT Media Lab's venture course. Caleb had a background in investing in IoT companies and Greg had previously founded and ran Accenture's Smart City Strategy business. Both were former hackers, and both had deep expertise in IoT.

In October 2016, hackers took down Dyn, which manages Reddit and Twitter network traffic, using IoT devices like baby monitors and DVRs. Traditional security vendors had no solution to solve this mess. Caleb and Greg wanted to take matters into their own hands by utilizing Caleb's strong IoT and business background and Greg's cybersecurity background at MIT.

What's been the most surprising aspect of this process?

We were surprised how much room there is for innovation in IoT security. There is incredible whitespace. While network security providers have tried to step in to secure IoT, nothing has successfully lived on the endpoint. Why are hackers better at accessing and running software on devices than those who made the technology?

Further, we were surprised by how hard it is to sell to IoT manufacturers and by their complacency in IoT security despite making critical infrastructure. Everyone is extremely excited about our technology, but due to legal complexities and the threat of product recalls, the sales process has been challenging. Despite this, we've been able to partner with truly innovative companies in energy and medical devices to pilot and disrupt IoT security.

What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

You're solving a global crisis that will benefit humanity. Don't get distracted by setbacks, keep on pursuing the mission.

Keep thinking big.

What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

The Launch Finals will give us a platform for a call to action on IoT security. There are massive implications - we are talking about large-scale blackouts and deaths from medical device hacking. We hope the finals will help raise awareness to IoT security.

Lightmatter

Who's on your team?

Nick Harris studies optical quantum computing and artificial intelligence as a PhD student and National Science Foundation Fellow at MIT. He spent two years as a research and development engineer at Micron, a semiconductor company, investigating transistor device physics. His passion is in developing new computational technologies. He is co-inventor of the optical neural network and plans to bring this new hardware to market to advance artificial intelligence computing.

Darius received his BS in Physics and Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013. While at UT Austin, along with the SXS Caltech-Cornell collaboration, he developed a software to visualize night-skies that have been distorted by black holes. The software helped the blockbuster movie Interstellar in creating scientifically accurate images of a black hole. He also spent a year performing large-scale blast experiments at the Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants, Inc. After enrolling in the Physics PhD program at MIT, he joined the quantum photonics lab to investigate artificial intelligence in the context of quantum computation and communication.

Dr. Yichen Shen was born in Hangzhou, China. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University at 2011, he joined the MIT Physics department to study nanophotonics and artificial intelligence. He got his Ph.D. from MIT at 2016, and is currently post-doc associate at MIT. Yichen is the co-inventor of the optical neural network technology.

Thomas Graham has over 5 years experience in strategy, operations, and finance. Most recently, Thomas held a business strategy role at Google X, where he worked on developing the business model and go-to-market plan for Project Loon, an endeavor to bring widespread internet connectivity to the developing world using balloons. Prior to Project Loon, Thomas worked as a business development manager in Google’s Strategy and Operations group, leading strategic initiatives to support Google’s advertising agency partnerships. Thomas started his career as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley, advising corporations on mergers, acquisitions, and capital raises. Thomas is currently pursuing his MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor's degree in Science, Technology, and International Affairs.

What problem are you trying to solve?

Big data and the steady advancement of electronic computing hardware have enabled the artificial intelligence revolution. Unfortunately, progress in electronics is slowing as the transistor, the workhorse of modern computers, approaches its fundamental size limit. To power the next generation of artificial intelligence, a new kind of computing hardware is needed.

What is your solution?

At Lightmatter, we're using light to accelerate artificial intelligence. By computing with light, rather than electrical signals, Lightmatter's systems are able to calculate faster and more efficiently than existing artificial intelligence hardware.

What inspired you to start your company?

Over the past century, human progress and computational power have been inextricably linked. We want to power the next generation of computing--to build the tools that will move humanity forward.

What's been the most surprising aspect of this process?

Beyond a great idea, there's a lot of work that goes into determining if a company is viable. We've learned a lot!

What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

You're only a company if you have a customer.

What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

Refining our business model and learning as much as we can.

Legionarius

Who's on your team?

Dr.-Ing. Alexander Gruentzig
Schools: RWTH Aachen, Boston University
Former Positions: Manager at A.T.Kearney and Fraunhofer

Jillian Gruentzig, LMHC, ATR
Schools: Boston University, Lesley University
Former Positions: Assistant Director of Inpatient Group Programming, and CBT and Art Therapy Specialist at Walden Behavioral Care

Mark Bradley
Schools: MIT Sloan School of Management, United States Military Academy at West Point
Former Positions: Special Forces Officer (Green Beret)

Craig Matthews
Schools: Harvard Business School, Princeton University
Former Positions: Associate at A.T.Kearney and Satisfi

What problem are you trying to solve?

Over the past 10 years, hemorrhage was cited as the cause of 91% of preventable military fatalities.

What is your solution?

We developed a hemorrhage control system which is integrated into clothing for military and law enforcement professionals. The system detects impact to the body, sends out a wireless distress signal, and inflates a patented layer of micro-fluidic bladders that expand across the site of the wound. The expansion puts pressure on the wound, in order to stop the bleeding.

What inspired you to start your company?

Our product was inspired by Dr. Andreas Gruentzig’s invention of the balloon catheter in the late 1970s. He used the simple principle of balloon volume expansion to apply pressure inside the human body. We are using the same basic principle, but on the outside of the body.

What's been the most surprising aspect of this process?

The willingness of people in the MIT community to support the vision.

What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

Showcase your vision with a working prototype.

What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

Building out our networks within, and outside, the MIT community.

change:WATER Labs

Who's on your team?

Diana Yousef (CEO; AB Biosciences Harvard, PhD Biochemistry Cornell, MBA & MA International Development Columbia, RA at MIT)

Huda Elasaad (CTO; MechE MIT, MS Envir Eng UMich, BS Geosciences McGill, RA @ MIT D-LAb); Yongji Wang (Systems Engineering; MS Math Univ Cambridge, PhD CEE MIT)

Matt Rosen (Development & Production; BS MechE Tufts, MSEM MIT); Yunteng Cao (Chem Engineering; PhD CEE MIT)

Nadir Ait-Laoussine (Strategy/Biz Dev, BS Envir Sci UMich, MA Urban Planning Harvard GSD)

What problem are you trying to solve?

2.6Bn people around the world lack access to safe, dignified sanitation. This is because these people largely live "off-line" (i.e. with no access to power or plumbing). When there is no way to flush away sewage, the cost of sewage removal becomes unsustainably costly.

What is your solution?

Our solution to overflowing off-line sewage is to shrink it. We are developing the next generation portable toilet to vaporize off-line sewage. We've developed a material that passively, rapidly vaporizes the liquid content of sewage, releasing only pure water vapor. Leveraging this material, we are developing a portable evporative toilet for homes with no power or plumbing. The toilet uses our material to vaporize (or "flush away") 95% of daily sewage volumes at the point of generation. This toilet will go anywhere, fit any home, is completely stand-alone, zero-pollutant discharge, and won't strain local water resources.

What inspired you to start your company?

Diana & Huda are from the Middle East, and wanted to do something to help with water strain and scarcity in the Region. As we learned about the sanitation crisis faced by refugees in Za'atari, and the broader problems of gender-based violence that is sanitation-related, and the high number of girls who drop out of schools that lack proper toilets. The problem of off-line sanitation was daunting, but solving it has a huge multiplier effect on peace, planet and prosperity.

What's been the most surprising aspect of this process?

How many times we've lived to see another day. Also, how important telling the story is--that is how you attract team, partners, funding.

What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

Talk to your customers! Go with your passion!

What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

telling our story!!

CareMobile Transportation

Who's on your team?

Kelley Barclay: is the CareMobile CEO and is leading operations. She has 15 years’ experience as adult care and social worker in the DC area and saw the need first hand for quality transportation. She has excellent marketing/interpersonal skills, deep industry expertise, and a strong network with LTC facilities in DC. School: George Mason University - Masters in Health and Human Services.

Kalhan Koul: is responsible for technology and analytics. He was a product manager for Capital One and also has founded a tech startup in the past (Athledo.com). Kalhan runs the website, online ad campaigns (currently at 5x ROI), and is leading the design and development of the care-mobile platform. School: MIT Sloan - MBA, University of Pennsylvania - Undergraduate.

Thompson Warren: is leading the business strategy efforts. He comes from strong background in growth strategy and market analysis, having worked for McKinsey & Co. for 3 years. Thompson is currently leading business strategy and market research efforts. School: MIT Sloan – MBA, Brown University - Undergraduate

Vedaant Kukadia: is heavily involved in building out the first iteration of CareMobile patient portal and is currently studying computer science at MIT. He has significant experience in developing start-ups, having launched two previous companies (Khumbu Clothing and SEAL-IT). School: MIT - Undergraduate

What problem are you trying to solve?

The Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is socially important, long overlooked, and in need of disruption. NEMT providers offer specialized, wheel-chair capable transportation to and from medical appointments for the elderly and the disabled. For decades, existing companies have remained complacent, providing notoriously unreliable, poor quality services with little improvement. NEMT resembles taxis before Uber but worse. Drivers are paid minimum wage with zero training in adult-care and are only occasionally licensed. Companies still rely on fax machines for booking and routinely show-up several hours late.

Vulnerable customers are trapped by bad options and no alternatives. Family members and caregivers have no trusted partner to care for patients from pick-up to drop-off. In the words of one long time NEMT user, “Please do something! Anything will be better than what exists.”

What is your solution?

Fusing a technology platform with a new service model, CareMobile aims to radically improve NEMT. Leveraging passionate adult care professionals as both drivers and care coordinators, CareMobile provides empathy-driven, end-to-end assisted-care services. Complementing this, our care-management technology platform provides customers and care-givers streamlined access to scheduling, payment, service customization, and shared patient information.

Our integrated service and technology solution enables entirely new care options. Using CareMobile’s platform, care-givers and family members can remotely coordinate complex services and view critical patient information without needing to attend appointments. If a family member hundreds of miles away becomes wheel-chair bound and needs to visit a doctor, CareMobile is the company you will trust to care for your loved-one from pick-up, through appointment, to drop-off.

What inspired you to start your company?

One of our founders, Kelley Barclay experienced first-hand the widespread problems within the NEMT industry while working as a healthcare professional for 15 years. She felt that a holistic, empathy-driven, and care-oriented approach to NEMT services would greatly benefit patients, patient’s family, and case workers. Frustrated by existing services, she set out to do better. Along the way, she gathered a passionate founding team that wanted to combine her new service approach with technology that would open entirely new care options.

What's been the most surprising aspect of this process?

How open customers and care-givers were in sharing deeply personal experiences with our team during market research interviewees.

What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

Always have a relentless focus on the customer to make sure you are solving the right problems.

What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

Sharing the stage with all the fantastic companies that are coming out of MIT.

100K Talks: Joanna Geisinger

100K Talks: Joanna Geisinger

We sit down with Joanna Geisinger--Founder & CEO of Torq Interface, and $100K Accelerate Contestant--to hear about her startup journey and success.

Introducing AquaFresco

This is the seventh post of our new interview series to introduce our eight finalists in the week leading up to the Launch finals. To see AquaFresco and other teams pitching on the big stage, come to the Launch finals at Kresge Auditorium on May 11!

Register on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mit-100k-launch-finale-2016-tickets-24292254788?

Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/592551840898846/

Stay posted by following us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mit100k


Team Name: AquaFresco

Team Members: Sasha Huang, Chris Lai, Alina Rwei

Q: Give us a 1-sentence pitch of your idea!

A: It’s the next-generation cleaning system that saves 95% of water and detergent in processes such as laundry, car-wash and industrial cleaning, building a better cleaning for a better future.

Q: Why did you decide to apply to the 100K?

A: Being able to compete in the MIT 100K has been one of our dreams since coming to MIT. It is a prestigious competition that gains so much recognition. Of course we are aiming for the final 100K prize to launch our vision, yet just the experience of participation in the 100K competition was a dream-come-true for us.

Q: What's been the most surprising aspect of this process?

A: It is surprising, in a good way, to find that our society is really supportive of entrepreneurs and that the network is strong and wide. Here at MIT and the greater Boston area, people who are interested in entrepreneurship are encouraged to pursue their dreams and make a difference.  

Q: What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

A: Starting as engineers, we began with speaking really technical things using really technical languages. However, through the process, we have learned to speak an idea not using technical languages but the words that can be clearly deliver to general public. The advice on how we can convey our idea better is the most valuable piece we have received.

Q: What’s been your biggest accomplishment in this process so far?

A: Building a prototype! It definitely feels good when the things you want to build is not just on paper but can be built in real life!

Q: What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

A: Meeting people, bouncing-off ideas from discussions, seeing how other startups make an impact, and just simply being immersed in the atmosphere of the Launch finals.

Introducing DoneGood

This is the sixth post of our new interview series to introduce our eight finalists in the week leading up to the Launch finals. To see DoneGood and other teams pitching on the big stage, come to the Launch finals at Kresge Auditorium on May 11!

Register on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mit-100k-launch-finale-2016-tickets-24292254788?

Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/592551840898846/

Stay posted by following us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mit100k


Team Name: DoneGood

Team Members: Garrett Parrish, Scott Jacobsen, Cullen Schwarz

Q: Give us a 1-sentence pitch of your idea!

A: DoneGood makes it easy to find businesses that share your values--and create change with every purchase.

Q: Why did you decide to apply to the 100K?

A: What could be more prestigious for a tech startup than recognition by the nation’s premiere technology university?  How could we not apply? We’ve come to see the enormous effort MIT undertakes to make the world a better place. In the simplest terms, MIT’s mission is to teach its students to use technology to build a better society. Since our company mission is so aligned with that goal, we believed that we could be united with MIT toward a common purpose.

Q: What new trend are you most excited about (besides your own)?

A: We’re excited about the movement of entrepreneurs that want their venture to be a positive force for change in the world, and the movement of consumers that want to support those businesses.  The old way of thinking is that “business” exists to maximize profits every quarter at all costs, and then charities exist to do good things for people or the planet.  
That way of thinking is really being disrupted.  There are more and more social impact companies and public benefit corporations started every day.  Even major corporations are focusing more on corporate social responsibility.  More businesses are realizing they want their company to operate in a socially responsible way, and are proving that business can be a force for good and be very profitable at the same time.  We do what we do because we want to help these entrepreneurs be more and more successful.

Q: What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

A: That we should be careful with advice.  Early on somebody told us about “advisor whiplash”.  The more you talk to advisors, the more contradictory advice you’re likely to get.  The advice was, seek out and respect advice from experts with varying perspectives. But at the end of the day, it’s your company, you know it best, and the advice from experts will often send you in opposite directions, so take in all the advice but then make up your own mind.  
So we try to aggressively seek out expert opinions but also keep in mind that you can’t just take the first piece of advice you get on any topic as gospel.  That said, there are times when you hear a nearly unanimous chorus from a lot of really smart people, and in those cases, it becomes pretty clear we should probably follow those recommendations.
 

Q: What’s been your biggest accomplishment in this process so far?

A: Creating a platform that people are using and telling their friends about! Meeting people who have already heard of DoneGood or already have it on their phones is the best.

Introducing ABA Power

This is the fifth post of our new interview series to introduce our eight finalists in the week leading up to the Launch finals. To see ABA Power and other teams pitching on the big stage, come to the Launch finals at Kresge Auditorium on May 11!

Register on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mit-100k-launch-finale-2016-tickets-24292254788?

Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/592551840898846/

Stay posted by following us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mit100k


Team Name: ABA Power

Team Members: Jonathan Slocum, Douglas Hart, Uri Pelli

Q: Give us a 1-sentence pitch of your idea!

A: ABA Power eliminates grid dependency - it provides clean energy in a compact package, up to 30 times more energy dense than Lithium batteries, completely silent, requires no oxygen, and produces no harmful emissions.

Q: Tell us about your ‘aha moment!

A:  Aluminum has long been recognized as having a great potential as a power source due to its extreme energy density. The challenge lies in bypassing a very stable and naturally forming oxide coating that protects aluminum. A century of research yielded complex, expensive and impractical solutions.
Jonathan worked with aluminum as an energy source for a military application he was developing in Douglas Hart’s capstone design course. An experiment he was running ultimately failed its intended purpose. Upon further inspection and out of plain curiosity, Jonathan reacted his failed experiment and discovered a new aluminum fuel that reacts with water.

Q: Wow, so why did you decide to apply to the 100K?

A: The 100K allows us to further develop and perfect our business plan as well as expose us to experts and industry connections and provide us funds that will allow us to hit our technological milestones. It is an opportunity that will set us up to secure further funding and is a great overall stepping stone that puts us out in the spotlight.

Q: What's the biggest challenge you've faced so far in pursuing your idea?

A: Due to the long history of failed attempts at aluminum fuels and power systems, there is significant skepticism amongst experts towards any aluminum-based power system. We have frequently encountered opposition to ABA Power due to misconceptions as to the nature of our solution. Many experts assume this is just another impractical aluminum-based power system, that is either too costly or too complex to succeed.

Q: What new venture, startup, or future trend are you most excited about (besides your own)?

A: The blockchain technology offers amazing opportunities - trust among unrelated parties with no need for a middleman. It could change the world of trade, contracts, lending, ownership records, etc.

Q: If you could draft your dream team of co-founders, present company excluded, who would be on it?

A: We are very happy with our current team and partners, we couldn't have wished for stronger and more capable partners than the ones we have!

Q: What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

A: We are excited to take part in the event and get to meet and learn from the judges and other teams. There are many other exciting and amazing ventures in this competition.

Introducing Spyce

This is the fourth post of our new interview series to introduce our eight finalists in the week leading up to the Launch finals. To see Spyce and other teams pitching on the big stage, come to the Launch finals at Kresge Auditorium on May 11!

Register on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mit-100k-launch-finale-2016-tickets-24292254788?

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Team Name: Spyce

Team Members: Michael Farid, Kale Rogers, Brady Knight, Luke Schlueter

Q: Give us a 1-sentence pitch of your idea!

A: Spyce has developed the world's first automated restaurant; a machine that's stocked with raw ingredients that autonomously cooks and serves meals to customers with no human involvement.

Q: Wow, so what inspired you to actually pursue starting this company?

A: The poor quality of meals from fast food and quick service restaurants.

Q: What is the most important item to have in the room when you’re meeting?

A: White boards to sketch on, and snacks!

Q: What do you think is the most widespread misconception about entrepreneurship?  

A: That raising money equals a successful venture.

Q: What’s been your biggest accomplishment in this process so far?

A: Serving hundreds of meals to paying customers completely autonomously from the Spyce Kitchen!

Q: What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

A: Showing the audience our brand new restaurant concept and introducing the world to a new meaning of fast food.

Introducing Solugen

This is the third post of our new interview series to introduce our eight finalists in the week leading up to the Launch finals. To see Solugen and other teams pitching on the big stage, come to the Launch finals at Kresge Auditorium on May 11!

Register on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mit-100k-launch-finale-2016-tickets-24292254788?

Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/592551840898846/

Stay posted by following us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mit100k


Team Name: Solugen

Team Members: Gaurab Chakrabarti, Sean Hunt, Zachary Moore

Q: Give us a 1-sentence pitch of your idea!

A: We use enzyme engineering to convert CO2 into high value chemicals.

Q: Can you tell us about your 'aha' moment?

A: It was literally in the shower.

Q: Why did you decide to apply to the 100K?

A: It’s a chance to demonstrate our technology and business plans to a passionate and inquisitive group.

Q: If you could be part of the founding team of any innovation from the past 100 years, what would it be and why?

A: The discovery, production and distribution of the Salk vaccine that eradicated polio. Imagine the era, 1952, and the first batch of polio vaccines are being distributed, but it turns out it would require a few more years of subsequent testing to perfect, all the while receiving backlash from everyone in the country. But Salk pushed past the naysayers and in 1954 a perfected version of the vaccine would go on to eradicate one of the deadliest diseases known to man. That is a team we would want to be on.

Q: What’s been your biggest accomplishment in this process so far?

A: Finding out that our first patent received favorable reviews!

Q: What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

A: Meeting the other teams, discussing execution strategies and road blocks!

Introducing Hive Maritime

This is the second post of our new interview series to introduce our eight finalists in the week leading up to the Launch finals. To see Hive Maritime and other teams pitching on the big stage, come to the Launch finals at Kresge Auditorium on May 11!

Register on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mit-100k-launch-finale-2016-tickets-24292254788?

Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/592551840898846/

Stay posted by following us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mit100k


Team Name: Hive Maritime

Team Members: Brian Kirk, Chris Mannion, Sam Perlik, Zach Owen and Doug Stolz

Q: Give us a 1-sentence pitch of your idea!

A: Hive Maritime is saving the shipping industry billions of dollars with advanced analytics and optimization; by optimizing shipping routes and speeds based on predicted queues at ports and canals, vessels will save money on fuel, late fees and other contractual charges.

Q: Why did you decide to apply to the 100K?

A: The 100K competition brings together exciting new technologies with great business plans to help launch real companies.  We are proud to be joining the other 100K finalist teams who have learned a lot during the process.

Q: If you could draft your ideal team of cofounders, present company excluded, who would you choose?

A: Nassim Nicholas Taleb for his contrarian view on predicting future events, Warren Buffett for his views on life.

Q: How does your team blow off steam and relax?

A: We are a very fitness-focused team.  Shortly after the 100k finals the co-founders will be running in the 200-mile Ragnar Relay race on Cape Cod as part of a team from the MIT Veteran’s Association.

Q: What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

A: Perseverance - we entered every round of the 100K last year and never made it to a semi-final. This year our tenacity has paid off, and we’ve pitched in the finals for all 3 rounds!

Q: What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

A: We’ve put so much time, effort and emotion into this company that we are really just thrilled to be able to share it with our friends, family, and the MIT and Boston entrepreneurial communities.  The 100K Pitch and Accelerate rounds gave us valuable life experience pitching in front of large audiences, and provided valuable input and feedback that helped shape our business model for Launch.  We know that, at the very least, we will walk off the stage at Kresge having received valuable insight and questions from the judges that we can use to continue to strengthen our business model and product as we move into alpha trials this summer.

Introducing Lux Labs

This is the first post of our new interview series to introduce our eight finalists in the week leading up to the Launch finals. To see Lux Labs and other teams pitching on the big stage, come to the Launch finals at Kresge Auditorium on May 11!

Register on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mit-100k-launch-finale-2016-tickets-24292254788?

Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/592551840898846/

Stay posted by following us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mit100k


Team Name: Lux Labs

Team Members: Yichen Shen, Spencer Powers

Q: Give us a 1-sentence pitch of your idea!

A: We use advanced optical nanomaterials to control light, improve optics, and reduce energy consumption.


Q: Can you tell us about your 'aha' moment?

A: I [Yichen] was working on my laptop on a train to NYC, and I forgot to bring the charger with me, and suddenly my battery sent me an alarm that it got low. At the same time, since I’m working on a confidential project, I have to sit in an awkward way to prevent the passenger sitting besides me to see what is on my screen. At that moment, I thought: it would be really nice if I can push a button, and the light that goes to his direction can instead come to me, which will allow me to lower the display brightness and save my laptop’s battery. Then I realized that I actually just invented such a material that can do this in my lab!


Q: Why did you decide to apply to the 100K?

A: The MIT 100K is a great opportunity to help us form our business plan and go-to-market strategy. Mentors and judges ask tough questions which force us to re-evaluate our assumptions.


Q: What is the biggest misconception you've discovered about entrepreneurship?

A: That there are ping pong tables. We don’t play ping pong.


Q: So, how does your team blow off steam and relax?

A: We go to the Muddy and drink a few beers until we can’t recite pi...


Q: What are you most looking forward to for the Launch finals?

A: Meeting other people also passionate about startups, getting feedback from judges to help us move faster forward, and most importantly, just enjoying the big stage and the show!