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!

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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?

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

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


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!