Congrats to Pitch Winners!

Congrats to Pitch Winners!

From left: MIT Entrepreneur in Residence Dipul Patel, Podimetrics CEO Jon Bloom, MIT $100K Executive Director Bar Kafri, and Tactile co-founders Grace Li and Charlene Xia.

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Congratulations to all the contestants in our annual Pitch Competition! We have a phenomenal evening, filled with great ideas and convincing pitches. In the end, Tactile took home the $5,000 Grand Prize for their technology that converts printed text to Braille. aam won the $2,000 Audience Choice Prize for their smart birth control blister pack and app duo. Congrats to both teams!

If you missed the event, watch it here!

 

 

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.