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Congratulate the winners of the Launch Finale: Infinite Cooling, Zilper Trenchless and Iterative Scopes

 Infinite Cooling, a startup that developed a system at MIT to enable significant water savings in the process of cooling power generators, received the Robert P. Goldbderg Grand Prize at the MIT $100K Launch Finale. Its patent-pending technology uses electrical fields to recapture water that evaporated from the cooling towers of power plant. This water is then recycled back into the cooling system. Infinite Cooling's technology could decrease power plant water consumption by as much as 30 percent, saving millions of dollars to power plant managers every year.  The co-founders of Inifinite Cooling are Maher Damak and Karim Khalil, PhD candidates in the Varanasi Research group in MIT's department of Mechanical Engineering. Derek Warnick, COO, graduated from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2009 where he focused on sustainable energy and energy finance. The last co-founder,  Kripa Varanasi, also serving as Chairman, is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. 

Infinite Cooling, a startup that developed a system at MIT to enable significant water savings in the process of cooling power generators, received the Robert P. Goldbderg Grand Prize at the MIT $100K Launch Finale. Its patent-pending technology uses electrical fields to recapture water that evaporated from the cooling towers of power plant. This water is then recycled back into the cooling system. Infinite Cooling's technology could decrease power plant water consumption by as much as 30 percent, saving millions of dollars to power plant managers every year.

The co-founders of Inifinite Cooling are Maher Damak and Karim Khalil, PhD candidates in the Varanasi Research group in MIT's department of Mechanical Engineering. Derek Warnick, COO, graduated from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2009 where he focused on sustainable energy and energy finance. The last co-founder,  Kripa Varanasi, also serving as Chairman, is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. 

  Zilper Trenchless won the Audience Choice award   Zilper Trenchless, co-founded by brothers Daniel and Roberto Zillante, received the $10K Audience Choice award for its technology that avoids the need to dig trenches for underground piping installation.

Zilper Trenchless won the Audience Choice award

Zilper Trenchless, co-founded by brothers Daniel and Roberto Zillante, received the $10K Audience Choice award for its technology that avoids the need to dig trenches for underground piping installation.

 Iterative Scopes won the $10,000 Booz Allen Hamilton Analytics Prize for its detection and diagnostic tools that help gastroenterologists identify cancerous colorectal lesions.

Iterative Scopes won the $10,000 Booz Allen Hamilton Analytics Prize for its detection and diagnostic tools that help gastroenterologists identify cancerous colorectal lesions.

 Steve Conine, co-founder and co-chairman of Wayfair, was the keynote speaker for this year's finale. Conine stressed that entrepreneurs need to value their customers more than they value their technologies. He recommended, too, the importance of creating a culture where people give honest feedback, which allows entrepreneurs to innovate faster. 

Steve Conine, co-founder and co-chairman of Wayfair, was the keynote speaker for this year's finale. Conine stressed that entrepreneurs need to value their customers more than they value their technologies. He recommended, too, the importance of creating a culture where people give honest feedback, which allows entrepreneurs to innovate faster. 

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Launch finalists announced!

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Join us in congratulating the eight amazing teams who will pitch on May 14 during the Launch finale! Discover their elevator pitches:

Crystal Sonic: Electronic devices are built atop high quality wafers with extremely flat surfaces. Wafer surface quality is critical to device performance. Today’s wafers are made by cutting ingots into thin slices with diamond saws. Mechanical wafer sawing is a jarringly primitive step in an otherwise precise, exacting, and high-tech manufacturing process. It is like practicing surgery with a chainsaw. This sawing process is expensive, time-consuming, and introduces undetectable saw damage to surfaces. Our technology uses sound to atomically cut wafers 10x cheaper and 20x faster than sawing.  Crystal Sonic will enable manufacturers to create better and more reliable devices at a substantially lower cost.

Leuko: We are developing the first non-invasive device for early identification of dangerously low level of white blood cells, leading to the hospitalization of 110K chemotherapy patients/year in the US, $2.7Bn costs and 7% mortality. Our device relies on optical imaging of nailfold microcirculation: a simple test to daily self-perform from home. This innovation will first enable physicians to personalize chemotherapy planning, improving efficacy and safety of treatments - often conservatively set at suboptimal frequency and dose to avoid infection. It could then benefit 10M immunocompromised US people; 4Bn with little or no access to testing for infection worldwide.

  Zilper Trenchless: Zilper Trenchless has developed innovative technology to create versatile and cost-effective equipment, rendering our trenchless technology the best option for infrastructure contractors. Our machines achieve significant reductions in execution time, costs and environmental impact.

STEMgem: STEMgem provides smart device toolkits that allow learners to create their own real, relevant and impactful technology. STEMgem is an Internet of Things device that is directly connected to an online programming environment to let young learners create a build-it-yourself wearable smart device. STEMgem's mission is to engage teenage girls in the STEM fields.

Strand Therapeutics: As a platform, gene therapy has long held the promise of expressing therapeutics proteins directly inside our own bodies. In previous generations, companies focused on DNA delivery without controlled gene expression. In more recent years, RNA therapeutics have emerged as safer, easier to deliver alternative gene delivery vectors. Strand Therapeutics exists at the intersection between synthetic biology and RNA therapeutics: the only company that has built the genetic programming language of RNA to precisely control the expression of RNA therapeutics and deliver truly revolutionary treatments.

360 Truck: Each year, trucking industry in ASEAN loses billions of dollars from trucks that are running back empty after dropping the cargo, bearing the costs of running two ways but making money from only one. This is called empty backhaul.

New Day: New Day, is a smart employment platform providing job-matching and professionalizing skills to entry-/mid-level (blue-collar and services) workers in Southeast Asia.  We are focusing on Southeast Asia (and Myanmar in particular) because it has the highest smartphone penetration and mobile internet usage in the world.

Infinite Cooling: Power plants are the largest user of water in the US, and most of this water is used for cooling. At MIT, we have developed a technology that uses electric fields to recover water from the evaporative losses of cooling towers so that the same water can be used again and again. The product offers an attractive 2-year payback to customers, and the market is $8B in the US and over $20B internationally. Our team comprises the inventors of the technology and we have strong technical and business skills.

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LAUNCH SEMI-FINALISTS ANNOUNCED!

Congratulate MIT $100K LAUNCH 2018 semi-finalists!

After two weeks of intense judging, we are pleased to announce the 35 semi-finalists of this year's LAUNCH competition! From Agriculture to Material Sciences, Tech to Design, BioTech to CleanTech, discover their elevator pitches.

AgTech

  • Arable -  Arable helps farmers optimize tilling practices, leading to
    more efficient and sustainable farming techniques.

BioTech

  • Iterative Scopes -  Iterative Scopes uses data analytics and advanced
    computing techniques to narrow health care disparities.
  • Bloomer Health Tech - Bloomer is revolutionizing cardiovascular
    disease management and prevention for women by combining
    medical-grade sensors, data analytics, health management and
    patient-physician empowerment via every day, ordinary clothing that
    collects extraordinary data.
  • Flow Suit - Flow Suit uses both electronic muscle stimulation and a
    passive brace in order to provide manual leg control to paraplegics,
    giving them mobility, independence, and self-sufficiency.
  • Mechanodontics - Mechanodontics is making a new type of braces
    for orthodontic treatment that reduces the overall treatment time by
    half, cut the number of visits to the clinician by 75%, and reduces
    overall pain while also increasing oral hygiene.
  • Karuna Health - Karuna is a personal advisor and assistant that
    leverages automation and custom-built patient experience tools for
    families with complex health needs.
  • DeepCure - DeepCure is developing a transformative AI technology to screen, generate, and optimize drug candidates thousands of times faster, cheaper, and more accurately than the current state-of-the-art, reversing the rapid decline in drug development effectiveness.
  • Orfactory - Orfactory designs and produces a handheld medical device that can detect and identify cancer cells in real-time to support neurosurgeons using 5-ALA during brain surgery, thereby increasing the survival rate and life expectancy of patients.
  • Leuko - Leuko is developing the first non-invasive device for early identification of dangerously low level of white blood cells that can enable physicians to personalize chemotherapy planning, improving efficacy and safety of treatments.
  • synXpro - synXpro utilizes symbiotic bacteria from the human microbiome as vehicles for more sustained and tissue-targeted delivery of therapeutic proteins.
  •  C16 Biosciences - C16 Biosciences use synthetic biology to brew palm oil from microbes, creating a cheaper, sustainable palm oil replacement that can capture value and protect the environment.
  • Strand Therapeutics - Strand Therapeutics has built the genetic programming language of RNA to precisely control the expression of RNA therapeutics and deliver truly revolutionary treatments.
  •  ConquerX - ConquerX is developing a pan-cancer test through a simple, customizable, accurate liquid biopsy test - the Metachip. Metachip is a unique multi-analyte platform able to simultaneously detect DNA, proteins, and microRNAs on the same sample.
  • E25Bio - E25Bio is providing the missing tool in the world's battle against infectious diseases: an inexpensive self-administered test strip with unprecedented accuracy coupled with data analytics to inform public response.
  • Aavia - Aavia invented a patent-pending IoT device for the Birth Control Pill blister pack. The user simply stores her usual blister pack in the device and it recognizes if she hasn't taken her Pill by her daily set time and sends customizable reminders to her phone until she actually takes it. This will keep the 10M US women who take the Birth Control Pill from missing a dose again, reducing stress and the associated 1M annual unintended pregnancies.
  • X-COR Therapeutics - X-COR CO2 removal cartridges are a minimally invasive, procedurally simple, safer and cheaper CO2 removal device that enables outpatient treatment of respiratory failure at low blood flows like dialysis.

Tech/Platforms

  • OZÉ - Founded by Meghan McCormick, OZÉ is the business insights engine in the pocket of every African entrepreneur. It is a mobile app that aggregates and analyzes transaction data to push context-specific recommendations to business owners to improve their operations.
  • Tactile - Tactile is the first dedicated text-to-Braille converter that aims to increase information accessibility for the visually impaired community. With Tactile, users can scan any printed text and read the resulting Braille on demand.
  •  360TRUCK - 360TRUCK is an online logistics marketplace that ensure that trucks drive with a full shipment both ways in ASEAN with a unique matching algorithm and predictive analytics.
  • Deepbench - Deepbench unlocks the world's knowledge by connecting those who have expert insights with those who need them via an AI powered technology platform.

CleanTech

  • Infinite cooling - Infinite Cooling has developed a technology that uses electric fields to recover water from the evaporative losses of cooling towers so that the same water can be used again and again.

Material Tech

  • Crystal Sonic - Crystal Sonic uses sound to atomically cut wafers 10x cheaper and 20x faster than the currently used method of sawing. Crystal Sonic will enable manufacturers to create better and more reliable devices at a substantially lower cost.
  • TerraVation - TerraVation uses cost-effective polymer technology to develop highly durable and waterproofed soil roads, thereby building reliable and long lasting means of rural connectivity.

EdTech

  • T-var EdTech - The Read Read is a patent pending physical device that allows blind students to independently learn phonics and braille and gain the early literacy that is prerequisite to academic and professional success.
  • STEMgem - STEMgem is an Internet of Things device that is directly connected to an online programming environment to let young learners create a build-it-yourself wearable smart device. STEMgem's mission is to engage teenage girls in the STEM fields.

FinTech

  • Zippi - Zippi helps the 70 million Brazilians have difficulty getting credit because they lack the necessary documentation by using cell phone data and behavioral tests to measure default risk in novel ways, providing loans that are 4-5x cheaper than competitors.
  • Context - Context is a crowdsourced Bloomberg for emerging economies, using predictions from locals to forecast asset prices for investors, governments and industry.
  • Waffle - Waffle leverages data science capabilities and a proprietary risk model to turn the insurance model upside down by insuring you through one policy, providing cheaper, comprehensive protection that places the customer at the center of the proposition.
  • Coconut - Coconut allows consumers holding any cryptocurrency to make direct purchases everywhere: at real-world merchants, online retailers, and across blockchains. Consumers choose any cryptocurrency to pay with, and businesses have the option to receive payment in fiat currency with no volatility.
  • Kivio - Kivio is leveraging Blockchain-based solutions to reengineer the ocean-freight contracting process for one of the biggest tanker ship-owning companies. Their products will make the industry more efficient, saving cost and time.

Design

  • Anantara - Anantara addresses the dual challenges of forest degradation and limited economic opportunities in the Western Ghats in India by helping indigenous forest communities create luxury designer furniture from a rapidly invasive plant (Lantana Camara).

Engineering

  • Zilper Trenchless - Zilper Trenchless has developed innovative technology to create versatile and cost-effective equipment, rendering their trenchless technology the best option for infrastructure contractors.
  • AirWorks - AirWorks makes aerial data accessible and useful to decision-makers in the built environment. We provide automated analytics such as site plans and building models through AI that allow developers and engineers to yield time and cost efficiencies as well as to identify and eliminate build errors.
  • New Day - New Day is a smart employment platform providing job-matching and professionalizing skills to entry-/mid-level (blue-collar and services) workers in Southeast Asia. We are focusing on Southeast Asia (and Myanmar in particular) because it has the highest smartphone penetration and mobile internet usage in the world.”.

2018 MIT100K ACCELERATE WINNERS!

MIT100K are proud to announce the winners of the 100K Accelerate finals! Huge congratulations go to OZÉ, who won the Daniel M. Lewin Accelerate Prize, supported by Akamai. A big mention also goes to Okoa, who captured audience hearts and won the coveted audience choice award.

We would like to thank all our sponsors and all those who supported and attended. Stay tuned for details on our third and biggest competition, Launch, coming up in May!

MIT 100K 2018 Accelerate Competition Finalists!

FINALISTS

  • ARABLE
  • D3 DIAGNOSTICS
  • ITERATIVE SCOPES
  • LOOP
  • OKOA
  • OZÉ
  • SONIC VISION
  • UMBULIZER
 
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Arable

Arable helps farmers optimize tilling practices, leading to more efficient and sustainable farming techniques.

Team members: Matt Rosen, Guillaume Defrance de Tersant

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

To keep pace with the rise in global population, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that farms will need to increase crop yields by 70% over the next 35 years. To do this, we need to take a holistic view of crop yields, and this starts by taking a deep look at soil, the humble media in which the majority of the world’s food is grown. For farmers to get the most out of their arable land, high resolution data and analytics are needed on soil health, mapped at the field scale. These soil health maps, along with recommendations, allow farmers to optimize field management practices such as tilling and fertilizer application, reducing costs while simultaneously increasing yields. Soil compaction, the main impetus for using tilling equipment, contributes to an estimated 10-15% loss in annual US crop yields, with an associated monetary loss of $45B. Similarly, inadequate use of fertilizer contributes to 15-20% yield loss with an associated monetary loss of $65B. Improving efficiency starts with understanding and mapping relevant soil health properties across a field, however, current measurement techniques are slow and labor intensive, making high-resolution measurement impractical across large fields.

Tell us a bit about your founder story.

 We have known each other for over a year and a half now, after meeting during a hike to the top of Mount Washington with friends from our Integrated Design & Management program (IDM) at MIT. Many of Guillaume’s family members are growers in the southwest of France, who provided him with first-hand insights into how complex it is to fully leverage the soil to grow better food in larger quantities. Matt had a natural draw to agricultural projects after his experience at a global development R&D lab. Together, we uncovered that there was great potential in solving one of agriculture’s biggest challenges, and set out to find a solution. After assessing promising technologies and validating our approach with experts, we designed a solution and tested it in the field. Although we are conscious of the intense competition in this space, we feel well positioned to build a strong company around this opportunity. We are leveraging connections with leading precision agriculture experts, as well as a collaboration with technology experts from Lincoln Laboratories to develop our product.

What inspired you to create this company?

 At the early stages of this project, we talked with a number of people in the agriculture field who highlighted some of the challenges and opportunities around soil health. There are a number of startups working on collecting above ground data, but there seemed to be very rich opportunity space looking below, in the soil, so that is where we are focusing.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced thus far?

 After several months of dedicated research, planning and design, we confidently naively decided to test our technology on a farm in southern Massachusetts. It was supposed to be a crisp, efficient morning and we would be back in Cambridge by the afternoon. Little did we know that the temperature would be in the low twenties, causing our sensors to malfunction, and that we would end up walking an eight-acre farm by night, guided by the car’s lights. Our grand plans to map out entire fields by midday turned into a few acres worth of data. With money lost and frozen feet, we swore to never do that again. 

What's one piece of advice you'd give to other aspiring entrepreneurs in the same position?

 We would repeat the same advice we heard from a CEO two weeks ago: “If you think that your first prototype looks good, you’ve waited too long.”

 
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D3 Diagnostics

D3 Diagnostics provides holographic imaging technology in resource-limited settings.

Team members: Hyungsoon Im, Ismail Degani

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

D3 is trying to solve the problem of early-stage cancer detection. Existing gold-standard tests for malignancies such as lymphoma and breast cancer are far too expensive to be administered at scale, especially in resource-limited settings such as Africa. The ability to diagnose cancer early-on and at low cost will lead to transformational improvements in the clinical outcomes of cancer patients worldwide.

Tell us a bit about your founder story.

D3 grew out of research at MGH’s Center for Systems Biology, in the joint labs of Drs. Hakho Lee and Ralph Weissleder. Our team has been working together since 2015 to deploy and commercialize D3’s groundbreaking approach to cancer diagnosis. Our technology is a unique combination of computational optics and single-cell level molecular detection. It’s an approach that could only have emerged from a collaboration between an engineering university and a research hospital with deep clinical expertise in cancer pathology. Our team is a passionate mix of research scientists and biomedical entrepreneurs that share a common vision and are excited to tackle it together. With complementary experience in assay development, device fabrication, and computational methods, we are exceeding well-qualified to execute our vision.

What inspired you to create this company?

Cancer is a dire and growing problem that needs to be attacked from many angles. Our low-cost, point-of-care approach to early detection was recognized by the NIH as a game-changing weapon in this fight. Once a proof of concept was in place, the need for a company to commercialize and deploy it became plainly obvious.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced thus far?

The biggest challenge thus far has been in the planning and execution of a 200-patient clinical trial in Botswana. This requires complex coordination between clinicians, pathologists, biochemists, and device experts at MGH and our partner sites in Botswana. 

What's one piece of advice you'd give to other aspiring entrepreneurs in the same position?

“Be stubborn about your vision but flexible about its execution” - Jeff Bezos

We overhauled our hardware, biochemistry, and computational approaches many times, but have remained fixated on our clinical goals. This has really helped us to deal with the inevitable setbacks involved in solving a very difficult problem.

 

 
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Iterative Scopes

Iterative Scopes uses data analytics and advanced computing techniques to narrow health care disparities.

Team members: Dr. Jonathan Ng, Karina Akib, Dominique Hall, Christian Ulstrup, Ellen Schippert

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

Colorectal cancer is the second highest cause of cancer related deaths in the world. 4.5% of all people will have some form of colorectal cancer in their lifetime. Colonoscopy is the primary tool used to screen for cancer in this domain; however, recent studies indicate that false negative rates (i.e. missed lesions) are as high as 25%.These issues are further magnified in resource-poor countries that suffer from inadequate access to diagnostic hardware and robust medical education systems. Our mission is to reduce the disparity in healthcare outcomes in both the United States and developing markets.

Tell us a bit about your founder story.

All of 5 months! We met at school and were lucky to find one another in MIT Sloan’s uniquely collaborative and diverse environment. We met at different times but the common theme across each meeting was that each one of us saw an impact beyond ourselves and wanted to work together.

What inspired you to create this company?

Before Sloan, while I (Jon) was working at the Ministry of Health in Singapore, I realised that policymakers and managers had difficulty understanding physicians’ performance reporting and questioned the reliability of the data which was being presented to us. It was one of the rare frustrating times that we weren’t able to work around.When I arrived at MIT, I realised the kind of resources and possibilities that the school and Boston ecosystem presented. Four months later, here we are.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced thus far?

We are trying to do good for patients and society as a whole by detecting cancer early and improving long-term healthcare outcomes; however, we have come to realize that in the US, insurers are often incentivised by near term ROI due to high patient churn. We are looking for insurers in the United States who are similarly aligned to long term value and would love to have a conversation.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to other aspiring entrepreneurs in the same position?

If you pursue your beliefs with the right attitude and intentions, things have a way of working themselves out. Just trust in yourself.

 
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Loop

Loop offers low-cost wheelchair seat cushions (made from bike inner tubes) to prevent pressure sores.

Team members:

Sarah Tress

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

The World Health Organization cites that the average life expectancy for people with spinal cord injuries in many low to middle income countries is as low as one year. Even worse, the primary cause for death is not the spinal cord injury itself, but preventable pressure sores. Wheelchair seat cushions are essential to prevent life-threatening pressure sores. Unfortunately, many users receive poor quality cushions or have no cushions at all. With an estimated 200 million wheelchair users in developing countries worldwide, there is a large amount of the global population whose lives are at risk because existing technology is inaccessible. Loop is trying to make high quality seat cushions available to all wheelchair users in developing countries.

Tell us a bit about your founder story.

I'm a junior studying Mechanical Engineering at MIT and have been trying to solve problems facing the developing world since I left the US for the first time during my freshman summer to travel to India. While I'm committed to continue to use my knowledge of mechanical engineering and design to help to solve the problems facing developing countries, I'm particularly invested in this particular problem since I traveled to Indonesia and Vietnam over this past summer to interview wheelchair users and visit NGOs that distribute wheelchairs. From this, I have an understanding of the problem one could only get by seeing and interacting with the problem firsthand. I know that there is a real need for this technology. 

What inspired you to create this company?

Loop originated from my desire to not follow the traditional path of pursuing an internship for the summer after my sophomore year. I wanted to do something over the summer where I felt I was really going to make an impact. This led me to get in touch with an NGO in Indonesia that described a few of the possible technologies they saw could make a big impact on their users, but didn't exist yet. The idea of an inflatable wheelchair seat cushion spoke to me and I just decided to tackle it.
What's the biggest challenge you've faced thus far?

Trying to turn bike inner tubes into something they don't want to be. Unsurprisingly, bike inner tubes don't naturally function too well as a life saving device, so it has required a lot of creativity and understanding of the best seat cushions to get them to work as desired. 

What's one piece of advice you'd give to other aspiring entrepreneurs in the same position?

 Don't let yourself tell yourself “no”. Throughout this whole process of establishing Loop, I was consistently the only person telling myself I couldn't do it. For young entrepreneurs, being conscious of your lack of experience and knowledge compared to others is very useful to realize, but really dangerous to allow to define your capabilities. Starting your own project or company will be a learning process for anybody; the difference is that the less experience you have, the steeper the learning curve will be. So while of course you should be reasonable, don't let anybody, and most importantly don't let yourself, tell you that you can't do it! Dive headfirst into the problem and you'll see how much you can discover about the world and yourself.

 
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Okoa

 Okoa uses an attachment that can turn any motorcycle into an ambulance, helping to close the gap in medical emergency transportation in developing countries.

Team members: Eva Boal, Emily Young, Sade Nabahe, Jimmie Harris

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

In Tanzania and other developing countries, rural communities are located far from healthcare facilities, making it difficult to get to medical attention in an emergency. Few transportation options are available due poor road conditions and lack of financial resources, forcing people to choose between traveling by motorcycle, bicycle or foot. These methods are slow, painful, and sometimes life-threatening for patients in a medical emergency, and many choose not to go. This leads to preventable deaths, many of which are from dangerous roadside births with no midwife, or stillborn births due to shaken baby syndrome. Additionally, poor communication between drivers and villagers increase the wait time for treatment, putting patients at risk of further complications or death. There are estimates of 1 billion people facing these realities, many of them pregnant women. The World Health Organization reports that 5,000 women and over 52,000 infants from low resource settings died in 2015 from preventable complications in Tanzania alone. While this statistic is specific to women in Tanzania, it reveals a common problem that is present across the country and other developing countries regarding safe, affordable transportation options in rural areas.

Tell us a bit about your founder story.

Emily Young and Sade Nabahe co-founded The Okoa Project when The Olive Branch for Children (TOBFC) came to MIT’s D-Lab looking for a way to safely and comfortably transport patients to existing healthcare facilities. They worked on it for almost a year before visiting Tanzania, seeing the lives their project could save. Since then, they have expanded the team to include two other MIT students, Eva Boal and Jimmie Harris, and other Tanzanians through TOBFC. With 4 MIT semesters, 3 prototypes and 3 trips to Tanzania, the team has learned to work together to make this ambulance a reality. Our diverse backgrounds and interests are key to the future of the product, and we rely on practical and local experiences. Sade (MIT ‘17) specializes in project management through previous D-Lab and MISTI development projects, Jimmie Harris (MIT ‘17) has experience in race car design, Emily (MIT ‘18)  has an extensive design and fabrication background through consumer product internships and working as a 2.007 lab assistant, and Eva (MIT ‘18), has business development and financing experiences from working on business development for startups, internships and fundraising over $185K+ for Camp Kesem. Our amazing partners at TOBFC have over 15 years of experience in the space and communities we are hoping to impact. We all come from different backgrounds but know how to and want to work together to fulfill Okoa’s potential.

What inspired you to create this company?

We were inspired to start this project when TOBFC came to D-Lab, but the ‘aha!’ moment was when we went to Tanzania the following January. We saw the problem first hand by talking with community members and healthcare workers, and realized how critically these areas needed our product. From that point we have been extremely invested in pursuing this solution and making our motorcycle ambulance a reality.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced thus far?

The biggest challenge that we have faced so far is working in Boston while our main prototype and testing areas are in Tanzania. We have been able to design another counterpart prototype in Boston and work on design iterations and testing procedure validation, but it is not the same as being in Tanzania. We are really looking forward to June when we graduate and can work full time on this, and September, when three of our team members will be moving to Tanzania.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to other aspiring entrepreneurs in the same position?

For other aspiring entrepreneurs, I would say: be willing to ask for help in areas that you are not an expert, and use the MIT network. There are brilliant advisors who would love to offer both advice and tools to further prototype and to help with business development. All you have to do is ask!

 
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OZÉ

OZÉ is a mobile app that aggregates and analyzes transaction data to push context-specific recommendations to business owners.

Team members:

Meghan McCormick, Aly Sawadogo, Rhoda Korle, Tayo Eurubo, Hannah Wei

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

If small business owners in emerging markets are keeping financial records, they are doing so in paper ledgers. They end up with pages of handwritten entries but struggle to turn this data into insights into actions that drive profits. Furthermore, you can’t show up at a bank with a stack of notebooks and get a loan. This is why more small businesses fail, and do not grow. In fact, 77% of small businesses in emerging markets are classified as non-employers, which means that they do not pay a single salary. We need to create more than 100 million new jobs in Africa over the next ten years, and I think the only way we can achieve that is if we empower small businesses to grow. 

How long has the team known each other and how did you meet?

I founded Guinea’s first business accelerator while I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. My team and I were struggling to track the performance of our portfolio companies in real-time, and so we spent most of our manpower and mind power fixing catastrophic errors with our entrepreneurs rather than preventing them from occurring in the first place. We used a human-centered design process at a founder’s retreat for this accelerator and came up with the core concept of what would eventually evolve into OZÉ. Realizing that OZÉ couldn’t thrive with our current team’s capabilities and non-profit structure, we spun it out and recruited a team. 

What makes our team unique is that we combine a global perspective and experience in developing new concepts with a deep understanding of how small businesses in West Africa work. We bridge the divide between those two worlds with empathy and curiosity.
What's the biggest challenge you've faced thus far?

I’m not a software developer so the biggest challenge has been turning this idea into reality, but recently we’ve really built up the tech side of our operation and now we are rolling. 

What's one piece of advice you'd give to other aspiring entrepreneurs in the same position?

Get as close to your users as possible. We actually co-create a lot of our functions and features with our users, and this means that instead of brining an American solution to small businesses in Ghana, I bring a process that lets users define their own solution. 

 
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Sonic Vision

Sonic Vision facilitates safer, more cost-effective invasive epidurals.  

Team members: Siddharth Trehan, Alex Benjamin, Dr. Albert Kwon, Jay Patel, Elaheh Ahmadi

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

A large number of interventional procedures are performed in a ‘blind’ fashion; doctors have to rely on experience, intuition and mental imagery to guide their needles or instruments to specific locations within the patient’s body. This lack of visual feedback results in inefficiencies, high rate of first attempt failures, complications, and potential lawsuits, all of which burden the patient and doctors alike.

Tell us a bit about your founder story.

Alex and Sid, two graduate students from MIT, bonded over their interest in bringing cutting-edge robotics technology to the healthcare industry. They became roommates, prototyping out of their apartment, and the team has grown ever since. It now spans expertise in ultrasound technology, robotics, anaesthesiology, medical image vision, and machine learning. They have leveraged their connections with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, which have provided them with valuable feedback within the fields of anaesthesiology, critical care, and pain medicine.

What inspired you to create this company?

Sonic Vision was originally conceived of as a solution to a manufacturing and product repair problem, where augmented reality is already being used to assist workers. After Albert, an anaesthesiologist, joined the team, we realized its potential in image-guided procedures. Our intuition about its impact was confirmed after we witnessed a few live epidurals and how much discomfort it was causing patients, mostly women in labor. It became clear to us that Sonic Vision is a technology with the potential to innovate in many different industries. 

What's the biggest challenge you've faced thus far?

Our product comes with a lot of technical challenges, and developing good 3D visualizations has been the most challenging aspect so far. If the rendering is off by a even centimeter it can mislead the doctor, and so we have spent a tremendous amount of time thinking about how to acquire ultrasound slices as a volume, display it in an intuitive manner, and project it onto the patient’s body.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to other aspiring entrepreneurs in the same position?

Find a real market need and a product that you love working on and can’t stop thinking about!

 
umbulizer.png

Umbulizer

Umbulizer provides a low-cost portable device that provides continuous ventilation to patients in resource-limited health care settings.

Team members: Shaheer Piracha, Sanchay Gupta, Hamza Khan, Moiz Imam, Wasay Anwer

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

There is a shortage of ventilators in resource limited countries like Pakistan. As a result, caregivers often Ambu bag the patient for several hours until a ventilator opens up, or the patient dies.

Tell us a bit about your founder story. 

Our team has either experienced this pressing issue in Pakistan first hand or worked in similar resource-limited settings around the world. We all come from various academic backgrounds that include engineering, medicine and entrepreneurship, but what unites us is our passion to address this unmet need. The team has now been working together for several months with the goal to reduce preventable deaths caused by ventilator shortage in resource limited settings. 

What inspired you to create this company?

I (Shaheer) am a biomedical engineer with experience working at BMC and CVS Health. I often visit Pakistan, where my family lives. During a recent visit, a loved one was admitted to a hospital for respiratory distress. Due to a critical shortage of mechanical ventilators and staff, my family was given a bag valve mask and asked to manually ventilate the two-year old child. My family members frantically took turns delivering life-sustaining breaths for three nights until he eventually passed away. Since then, the team and I have made this project our mission.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced thus far?

Backing up your story. When you are working on a project in a low resource setting there is often not a lot of clinical data or information available online to validate your idea. We took it as an opportunity to conduct on-the-ground research, build relationships and get closer to our customers!

What's one piece of advice you'd give to other aspiring entrepreneurs in the same position?

You're solving a critical healthcare problem that will save lives and bring smiles back to families’ faces. Don't get distracted by setbacks. Remain steadfast and always keep your head held high. Perseverance commands success.

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.

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!

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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.