Category Archives: mobile technology

Startups have a chance to share $1 Million in prizes in MassChallenge, world’s largest competition

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Last year I had the opportunity to participate as a judge and mentor in the inaugural competition, MassChallenge. This is a serious business competition that has shown it can attract top quality concrete job creating ideas from round the world. Over 450 entries applied and 110 finalists were incubated for 3 months including free office space, introductions to VC, funders, customers and team resources.  Sixteen finalists split $1 Million including $100,000 for the top finisher. Seeding Labs, profiled elsewhere on my blog, won $50,000 as the Social Impact finalist and also was offered free office space for another nine months.

If you have a venture and are looking to make it to the next level I strongly encourage you to apply to the 2011 accelerator. If you have any questions please reach out to the organizers at contact@masschallenge.org or apply online at www.masschallenge.org/enter. Continue reading

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ForSE 2010: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs, Oct 30 Northeastern University

This picture shows a panorama of Boston (USA).

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For the fourth year, TIE Social Entrepreneurs Group together with Northeastern University’s Social Enterprise Institute and the Netimpact Undergrad organization will be hosting ForSE 2010: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs.  ForSE 2010 brings together social innovators, leading business professionals, investors, donors, government officials, academics, and students to share new technology and business ideas with the potential for significant social impact.

We have a terrific line up of keynote speakers and panelists this year including

  • Prof. Kasturi Rangan, who is co-chair of Harvard’s Social Enterprise Initiative and Malcolm P. McNair Professor of Marketing
  • Gianfranco Zaccai, co-founder, Chairman, President and Chief Design Officer of Continuum, a design consultancy that has delivered significant designs for social impact globally.

We are excited to note that two of our invited panelists – Dr. Una Ryan and Sam White – were subsequently listed as one of Boston’s top 15 Innovators by the Boston Globe. Also participating are Pradip Sarmah, Ashoka Fellow and founder of the Rickshaw Bank; Josh Biber, Executive Driector, Teach for America; Brian Milder, Managing Director, Root Capital; and many others. Four tracks on Health, Sustainability, Technology and Education promise engaging conversations with committed leaders delivering significant social impact. An Unconference session after the panels, allow you to continue the conversation with the panelists in a more informal setting.

And if you know of promising social entrepreneurs, this year we have our second Pitch contest where they can refine their pitch, test their ideas and wow a panel of seasoned judges. Click here for info on the Pitch Contest.

Sign up soon as we have limited attendance to 250 registrants and we have consistently sold out in past years. More details of ForSE 2010 at the website at: http://www.forumse.org You can register at the TIE Boston site.

Assured Labor – creating a mobile marketplace for jobs in emerging markets

In the fall of 2007, a group of young potential entrepreneurs attending the course on Development Entrepreneurship at MIT struggled with a problem facing over half the developing world. As developing economies grew and provided new jobs, the infrastructure to communicate and broadcast the potential opportunities for employment was unable to keep up. The influx of migrant workers into urbanized centers provided a rich pool of available talent but the mechanisms for disseminating job needs were still rooted in the 19th century. Print advertising and, in extreme cases, roving cars with loudspeakers, were used in a scattershot manner hoping to attract potential candidates to interview for jobs. Online advertising wasn’t an option in most developing countries where internet connectivity was sporadic. The transient nature of most migrant and casual laborers made getting to the target audience even more difficult. Continue reading

Using cell phones to change the world

Jhonatan Rotberg, was sent to MIT by Telmex, one of Latin America’s largest telcos, and teaches NextLab where he tries to bring cellular technology to the other 90 percent of the world. One of the labs startups, CelEdu, offers cellphone-based games and quizzes to teach basic literacy skills in India. Ranjani Saigal from the TIE Social Entrepreneurs Group helped connect CelEdu students to Tara Aakshar. You can see some of their work in progress at the CelEdu site


A great article in the Boston Globe highlights the many ideas that have spun out of this lab. Some excerpts below – click here for the entire article.

In NextLab, Rotberg challenged students by asking, “Can you make a cellphone change the world?’’ And students have responded, creating nearly two dozen projects and three start-up ventures that have been working with communities in developing countries like India, Vietnam, and Mexico.

Dinube, a NextLab spinoff that was tested in Mexico last summer, provides payment services to people who don’t have access to traditional banks. “One of the powerful things about cellphones in Mexico is that there is a 75 percent penetration rate,’’ said Jonathan Hayes, a cofounder of Dinube. “But only 25 percent of the population has a bank account. So a cellphone-based system can fill a huge, important gap.’’

TIECON Social Enterprise Track Provides New Perspective

For the first time TIECON EAST – TiE Boston’s annual conference on entrepreneurship and innovation – had a dedicated track on Social Enterprise. The three panels in the track – ‘Healthcare Innovation in a Global Village’, ‘IT & Communications for the Developing World’ and ‘Feeding 9 Billion people’ – were all well attended and engaged the attentive audience with the incisive discussions. Here are some excerpts from an article I wrote for Lokvani about the sessions. Continue reading