Tag Archives: MassChallenge

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

Image representing MassChallenge as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

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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An amazing lineup for ForSE 2010 and there is still time to register!

It is real exciting the see the lineup of speakers that will be at the upcoming ForSE 2010: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs on October 30 at Northeastern University. 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.

 Don’t just take our word for it – see what others are saying about the speakers who will be at ForSE 2010.

  •  Of Prof. Ramesh Raskar and NETRA, his low-cost, cell-phone based, optometry solution, Xconomy.com says, “Camera Culture: Ramesh Raskar, perhaps the Doc Edgerton of the future, dreams of creating “femto” cameras that operate at a trillion frames per second”
  • Seeding Labs’ Nina Dudnik and David Qualter were recent winners of the $50,000 Social Impact prize in the MassChallenge competition for their innovative idea.
  • Seeding Labs CEO Nina Dudnik has been chosen as a 2010 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow and presented at the recent PopTech last week in Maine. “PopTech Social Innovation Fellows are visionary change agents who are incubating high-potential solutions to pressing global challenges.
  • Pradip Sarmah, Ashoka Fellow and Founder of Rickshaw Bank, an NGO that provides micro-finance to Indian rickshaw drivers, invited to participate at MIT D-Labs
  • Jose Gomez-Marquez, another fabulous speaker in the Health track, is named by Smart Planet as “master of invention” in their news piece about his many inventive creations.
  • Dr. Una Ryan and Sam White speakers in the Health and Technology tracks are named as Boston’s Top 15 Innovators by the Boston Globe.

And the ForSE 2010 keynoters are outstanding in their fields:

  • 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.

So what are you waiting for? Register before it is too late at http://www.forumse.org/ Attendance is limited to 250 registrants and it has been consistently sold out in past years.

Seeding Labs, winner of $50K MassChallenge Social Impact Prize to speak at ForSE 2010

Yesterday MassChallenge, the year long business competition, announced the winners of the grand prizes. With over $1 Million in prizes, this has drawn international attention as one of the largest business plan competitions. Starting with a pool of over 450 applicants, the judges winnowed it down to a final list of 111 selected companies that were provided free space for three months and mentoring to help them refine their business ideas and pitches. 26 teams were chosen from these finalists to the final round to make their pitch to a world renowned panel of judges.

The competition was fierce as this was not some college level biz plan competition. Several companies were startups by veteran entrepreneurs. Progressive thinking MassChallenge also included a category for enterprises with significant Social Impact.

Last night Seeding Labs learned that they were the winners of the $50,000 prize for their entry in the social impact category. Seeding Labs mission is to support and expand scientific research in developing countries by providing affordable reclaimed laboratory equipment and facilitating connections within the global scientific research community. Their simple focused approach won over the judges. Seeding Labs has been on a tear having recently been invited to the TED Global conference as a TED Fellow; was awarded the Young Professional Award by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network; and have been named a PopTech  Social Innovation Fellow.

Seeding Labs is one of the featured speakers in the Technology Track for ForSE 2010: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs to be held on Saturday, October 30 at Northeastern University. For information and to register for ForSE 2010: http://www.forumse.org

World’s largest Business plan competition looks to help social entrepreneurs

To help jumpstart job growth in Massachusetts, a unique public/private partnership, Masschallenge.org, was launched earlier this year. By unveiling what it claims is the world’s largest business plan competition; the folks at MassChallenge are hoping to attract hundreds if not thousands of interested entrepreneurs. While most business plan competitions have been university based in the past, MassChallenge intends to go mainstream with entries accepted from all quarters. With the intent of raising serious money – a target of $25 Million for the first year – it hopes to change the way plans are run by providing the winning teams with $1 million in seed funding. It hopes to run six parallel competitions in the following areas:

  • Healthcare, and Life Sciences
  • IT, Software, and Gaming
  • Clean Technology and Energy
  • Social Development and Non-profit
  • Open Category, Seed Stage
  • Open Category, Expansion Stage

The one on Social Development and Non-profit caught my eye as it is along the lines of what we have been discussing on this blog. As I had said in some of my earlier posts, early stage social innovators sorely need a jumpstart as they face a tougher time raising funds than a for-profit. More importantly, Massachusetts has grown to be a focal point for social innovation attracting the best and brightest to the exciting programs offered in all the leading universities. Coupled with the incentives from MassChallenge and the Massachusetts Government, we have the opportunity to create a new growth cluster in the state. We have an opportunity to retain the top talent attracted to the programs in the area and to channel them to building the next generation of innovative social enterprises here in Boston.

I recently wrote a more detailed article for the MassChallenge.org blog that outlines this and am excerpting it below. Continue reading