Hey there, Ideologues. Rayshauna here.
I'm sure you know how this works by now. I scan event calendars and attend lectures about history, literature, race or gender studies. I might go to a museum and snap photos of my favorite works of art or live tweet a performance by a symphony orchestra.
Well not this time, mes amies. This time I braved the non-humanities waters and went to MIT...just for you.
The Marvin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship (@EshipMIT) threw one heck of a shindig featuring great minds from all over the world, so I grabbed a seat on the penultimate row and took some great photos and notes for you.
We were greeted by Managing Director of the Trust Center and Senior Lecturer at the Sloan School of Management, Bill Aulet (@BillAulet). In a move that I was certainly not expecting (which was prompted by somebody yelling randomly in the audience, which I live for), he charmingly spoke of a dream - a dream that great minds (MIT-affiliated and not) would go on to use their skills off Wall Street to create a better society. More specifically, he mentions that this dream shifted a monopoly on power and influence away from older white men, which, uh, you know...sounds kinda refreshing.
There's a quote that's been on my mind a great deal recently that I'd very much like to share with all of you. "I am, somehow, less interested in the convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweat shops."
Stephen Jay Gould, y'all. That's a quote from New Scientist from March 8, 1979.
Yeah. Let that go on and marinate. I'll wait.
Quotes like these linger with me. What would young people in Detroit do with sufficient resources? How different would Chicago's (my beautiful hometown) educational landscape be without the agony of gun violence and mass closings? How do we reconcile our ability as a nation to pour into people with our refusal to do so? Furthermore, how many generations will contend with the results of our not having done so?
Anywho, after Bill wrapped his introduction, Kyle Judah (@KyleJudah), entrepreneur and Trust Center Program Director, served as emcee and kicked off the presentations.
You all, I could not have been more impressed. Armed with amazing ideas, charming accents and witty anecdotes, the presenters shared their innovations with us. I'm sure they'll continue to be incredibly productive and engaging collectives.
The event wrapped with closing remarks by Kayak.com's Chief Technology Officer and founder Paul English (@englishpaulm), who also moonlights as a renegade and Senior Lecturer at MIT's Sloan School of Management.
Now meet some of our amazing entrepreneurs!
NarwhalEdu (MIT): www.narwhaledu.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / @NarwhalEdu
The adorable NarwhalEdu team, folks. They were the first ones I photographed. They were so sweet - and by sweet I mean absolutely dynamic. We heard from Nancy Ouyang during the presentations. They "combine online curricula with hands-on engineering projects, fully kitted to help high school and college students discover the creativity and coolness of engineering.*"
Thyme Labs (MIT): www.thymelabs.com / email@example.com / @ThymeLabs
The fantabulous Thyme Labs team. They "produce personal productivity and analytic tools that'll help us make time for the things that matter." They're currently beta-testing (a cool term I learned) their apps for Android and, er uh, non-Android? I have an Android phone (or so people tell me), so the world is thus separated into Android and non-Android.
And just so you know, Thyme Labs' Amanda von Goetz is a retired concert pianist and self taught Russophone. And yes, I take the opportunity to use 'Russophone' every damn chance I get. You all should know that English speakers are Anglophones, Spanish speakers are Hispanophones, and German speakers can be Germanophones or Teutophones. Cool terms all - I encourage you to do some googling to figure out just which kind of "-ophone" you are.
ALPrint (University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, Scotland): www.alprint.co.uk / firstname.lastname@example.org
ALPrint's kilt-clad Christopher Balmer is an absolute character. I got two of the four team members in this picture here. Their company has created a 3D scanner and printer that allows ski shops to provide customers with fully customized insoles for their ski boots, which, even as a non-skier, I think is pretty friggin' sweet. They were with us all the way from the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University in Scotland.
Scotland's flag is absolutely gorgeous, by the way. But I digress.
AvaTech (MIT): www.avatechsafety.com / email@example.com
Here we have two of AvaTech's team members. We heard from their Brint Markle during the presentations. They've developed a state-of-the-art proactive avalanche safety device that helps backcountry adventurers and professionals avoid life threatening slides.
The fatality stats are stark: 52% of people buried under the snow don't make it. Hopefully many lives will be saved and catastrophes averted because of technological advances like AvaTech's.
Uniiv (McGill University, Canada): www.uniiv.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Two of the Uniiv representatives were kind enough to pose for lil' ole me. They are GFSA13's Canadian group from McGill University. We heard from their Thibauld (a variation of my favorite male French name, Thibault) Marechal. Their first product is an intelligent course management web app for students to track and plan their degree.
6sensorLabs (MIT): www.6sensorlabs.com / email@example.com / @6SensorKangaroo
A 6sensorLabs representative demonstrates the easy method for their gluten detection device. Their company builds products and networks that enable people with food allergies to trust their food. Did you know that 30 million people in the US have negative responses to gluten, and that there's a $6 billion market for gluten-free foods?
Their device tests four times as fast (5 minutes as opposed to the current 20) and is one fifth the cost.
task36 (TU Berlin, Germany): www.task36.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
People congregated at the task36 table - and for good reason. This team from Technical University in Berlin develops smart software that helps hardware companies complete their tasks and projects more efficiently, which is something we can all use. Even Ideologues that usually roll solo.
We heard from task36's Philipp Stelzer. It is official - I love the German accent, well, the one I heard. I'm sure they range in coolness like ours do.
Darfoo (Zhejiang University, China): www.darfoo.com / email@example.com
A Darfoo representative tells attendees all about their venture in easier cell phone use for seniors. They've created a series of applications to help China's population simplify their smartphone user experience. We heard from Xiaoying (Elsa) Jiang during the presentation. I was so impressed by what they came up with - and equally struck by how the complex language necessitated a different sort of user experience for the older Chinese population (whose numbers rival those of the entire documented US population!).
In addition to having another more savvy user be able to configure their screen remotely, there's also handwriting recognition for the over 6000 characters!
lallitara (MIT): www.lallitara.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / @lallitara
A lallitara representative shares information about their amazing enterprise. lallitara creates one-of-a-kind, eco-friendly products by upcycling reclaimed materials sourced from around the world. I was so impressed by CEO Bijal Shah's presentation. She went from working for a big name company to working in Slum Development in India, where she met a woman who inspired the project.
Here's a list of presenting companies that were not pictured above. It can be hard to get good photos when you're short. I'm a mere 5'2, so there were quite a few photos of torsos, purses and shoes. I've included verbatim descriptions from the event program*. Check 'em out, y'all!
Grove (MIT): www.grovelabs.io / email@example.com
"Grove is on a mission to distribute agriculture by developing technologies that enable people to grow fresh fruits and vegetables year-round in their home. The company's first product is a remote monitoring system fro hydroponic and aquaponic grow systems."
ImSlide (Skolvoko Institute of Science and Technology [Skoltech], Russia): firstname.lastname@example.org
"ImSlide offers an effective and reliable way to de-ice power lines, allowing secure energy transmission to occur during severe weather conditions."
NVBots (MIT): www.nvbots.com / email@example.com
"NVBots offers a simple 3D printing experience and educational content enabling students to safely 3D print 24/7 from any device."
SomaTech (Sabanci University, Turkey): www.somatech.com.fr / firstname.lastname@example.org
"SomaTech is helping companies control their social media presence. The company's first product is a 'social intelligence engine' that presents data in a more meaningful way."
*I drew on the descriptions from the event program because, well, who better to describe what the company does than the folks running it?
For more information, contact: email@example.com. You can also visit gfsa.mit.edu or entrepreneurship.mit.edu to learn more about entrepreneurship at MIT.