This blog is quickly becoming a love letter of sorts to Cambridge, and MIT's annual Skills Accelerator certainly does more than its fair share of making Cambridge such a lovable town. I'm always so inspired by the presenters and encouraged by their narratives. The daring enterprise of intrepid students coupled with a community home to some of our country's greatest success stories? Sign me up.
Last year's skills accelerator was my first and it didn't disappoint. While the wonderful folks over at Thyme Labs decided to not roll out their mobile app, they just made their Find Thyme API available to the open source development community. Some other friendly faces from last year's GFSA have been up to some amazing things as well. Check out some of their sites to read up on what they've got going on these days.
Like last year, Bill Aulet (Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and Senior Lecturer at MIT's Sloan School of Management) greeted us warmly and got the festivities underway. Kyle Judah (Director of the GFSA and the Jackson W. Goss Fellows Program) hit the stage immediately after, doting on the amazing participants the entire time.
I was especially impressed by the special presentation by Mick Mountz and Pete Wurman, the co-founders of Kiva Systems. I imagined that creating robots capable of bringing materials in warehouses to human staff (drastically reducing packaging time) was involved, but I was completely thrown by how downright cool it was. Both MIT alums ('87), they decided the world was theirs for the building...while I was learning to walk.
I'm excited to introduce you to this year's presenters. Just click the name of the company to view the official footage of their presentation.
Miramix (www.miramix.co / firstname.lastname@example.org): Developed a consumer electronics device that can create custom personalized vitamins and supplements for users to help be the very healthiest version of themselves. Represented by Megan Cox (MIT / Management, SB 2014).
OBaa (www.obaahealth.com / email@example.com): Built a mobile healthcare app to make maternal healthcare accessible to expecting mothers in rural Ghana and other developing nations. Represented by Kwabena "Cobby" Owusu-Amoah (Wartburg College / Economics, BA 2014).
Datasight (www.datasight.io / firstname.lastname@example.org): Datasight's proprietary machine-learning algorithms help pharma and biotech companies more accurately select the sites for Phase III clinical trials to increase accuracy and reduce the time to market. Represented by William Drevo (MIT / Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, M. Eng. 2015, SB 2013).
Ashton Instruments (www.ashtoninstruments.com / email@example.com): Created a new power meter for bicycles that is far cheaper and easier to install than anything on the market. Represented by James Schulmeister (MIT / Mechanical Engineering, PhD 2015, SM 2012).
Love Grain (www.lovegrain.co / firstname.lastname@example.org): Creates delicious gluten-free foods for American consumers while helping thousands of Ethiopian farmers. Represented by Aleem Ahmed (MIT and Harvard Kennedy School of Government / MBA & MPA 2015).
Hemingly (www.hemingly.com / email@example.com): Created smart marketing for self-published authors, making it easier for them to save time and money when finding and engaging their audience, and driving sales. Represented by Charlie Feng (McGill University / Finance, B. Com 2014).
Cardinal Wind (www.cardinalwind.com / firstname.lastname@example.org): Makes it easier than ever for investors to analyze and invest in wind power using CSAIL algorithms and advanced financial analysis. Represented by Teasha Feldman-Fitzthum (MIT / Physics, SB 2014).
Sonabos Technologies (www.sonabos.com / email@example.com): Developing a connected platform that gives DJs and live performers the confidence they need to rekindle their creativity. Represented by Thomas Burrow (MIT / Mechanical Engineering, SB 2014).
FarmUp (www.farmup.mx / firstname.lastname@example.org): Creating an e-commerce platform to allow restaurants to buy directly from farmers in Mexico, removing middlemen and streamlining operations to improve product quality for restaurants and prices for farmers. Represented by Francisco de Asis del Villar Ortiz Mena (Instituto Technologico Autonomo de Mexico - ITAM / Economics, SB 2014).
Smarking (www.smarking,net / email@example.com): Helping airports and parking management companies access predictive analytics and real-time tracking to optimize revenue and staffing, saving millions of dollars every year. Represented by Wen Sang (MIT / Mechanical Engineering, PhD 2014).
Inevio (www.inevio.com / firstname.lastname@example.org): Takes our computers to the cloud - not just files, but apps as well, allowing users to work collaboratively from any device, anywhere, t any time. Represented by Roberto Gomez Vincente (Universidad Politecnica de Madrid / Computer Engineering, 2015)
Accion Systems (www.accion-systems.com / email@example.com): Developed a revolutionary propulsion system for satellites. Represented by Natalya Brikner (MIT / Aeronautics and Astronautics, PhD 2014)
Wise Systems (www.wisesystems.io / firstname.lastname@example.org): Combines big data, design, and logistics to route businesses in developing countries more efficiently than ever, saving time and money. Represented by Chazz Sims (MIT / Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, M. Eng 2014, SB 2013)
Monograph (www.amonograph.com / email@example.com): Developers ahve GitHub. Designers have Dribble. The good folks at Monograpgh are building a web platform for makers to help catalyze the second Renaissance. Represented by Alex Dixon (MIT / M. Arch 2014)
Embr Labs (www.embrlabs.com / firstname.lastname@example.org): Created a wearable device that can heat or cool the user depending on their personal temperature preference. Represented by Sam Shames (MIT / Materials Science and Engineering, SB 2014)
See, I told you. Heavy hitters, every single last one of 'em. I look forward to hearing about all the great things they'll continue to do. Oh, which was my favorite?
At this point, you know that I'm an absolute sucker for a personal approach...which is why OBaa took the cake. Kwabena painted a picture of what is so often considered a compulsory facet of cultures the world over: pregnancy and birth. We don't have sufficient conversations about how incredibly physically taxing the experience is, and most expecting mothers around the world lack access to systems that could increase the quality of their pregnancy experience and life.
Much like my aim in including the Stephen Jay Gould quote in last year's GFSA post, I encourage you to think about what we all miss out on long term when people around the world don't have immediate access. In keeping with the theme of calling on the words of great humans, I offer you the following by Vaclav Havel:
"The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility."
The issues our world faces are many and they are complex, but they have quite the formidable foes.
Visit gfsa.mit.edu or entrepreneurship.mit.edu to learn more about entrepreneurship at MIT. Company descriptions are drawn from the official event program by the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.