INNOVATE@BU ANNUAL REPORT 2018â€“2019 ACADEMIC YEAR
We envision a world where all BU Terriers are equipped with innovation skills and an entrepreneurial mindset, and are prepared to create meaningful impact in their careers and communities.
The BUild Lab IDG Capital Student Innovation Center was established in February 2018 with generous support from Hugo Shong (COM’87, GRS’90) and IDG Capital.
Inspire. Educate. Connect. We just completed our first full academic year at Innovate@BU and at the BUild Lab IDG Capital Student Innovation Center. For us, it was a year of experimentation and learning, a year of rapid growth, and most important, a year of making an impact across Boston University. Student response has been overwhelming; their participation in our workshops, programs, competitions, office hours, and conferences consistently reaffirms to us that students want to learn the principles of innovation and entrepreneurship and use the skills to make an impact on their careers and communities. This annual report tells some of their stories. At Innovate@BU, we do three things: inspire our students to solve important problems by using the principles of innovation and entrepreneurship; educate our students by teaching them how to form new business or social ventures that solve the problem; and, when ready, connect and support them with a network of experts and other like-minded trailblazers. The accomplishments of our students have been astounding. They have formed tech start-ups in the home electronics industry, created online student marketplaces, started international fintech companies, established nonprofits serving schoolchildren in the City of Boston, and built social ventures working on everything from food distribution to energy audits for low-income populations. BU students are creative, hardworking and hungry to make a difference. Our students could not have done this without the contributions of our donors and supporters. Whether through financial support, mentoring our students, teaching a workshop or simply helping us get the word out, they have helped in countless ways, and we are truly grateful. We look forward to even more student success next year.
Gerry Fine Executive Director
INSIDE Team 5 By the Numbers
Programs 7 Student Leadership
Curriculum 13 In the Community
Alumni 17 The Future 18
Staff & Faculty
Gerry Fine, Executive Director
Yousif Al Nowais
Ian Mashiter, Managing Director, BUild Lab IDG Capital Student Innovation Center
Billy Bloom (CGS’82, Questrom’84)
Siobhan O’Mahony, Academic Director of Research & Curriculum and Questrom School of Business Feld Family Professor in Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Richard Cohen (CGS’67, Questrom’69)
Lou Brum, Event Coordinator Denise Falchetti, Postdoc Researcher, Questrom School of Business Rana Gupta, Director of Faculty Entrepreneurship Ahlea Isabella, Marketing & Communications Manager Lisa Lavina, Assistant Director of Operations Joe LiPuma, Affiliated Faculty, Questrom School of Business Peter Marton, Director of Entrepreneurship Partnerships Micaelah Morrill, Director of External Relations
Beverly Brown Ziad Dalloul (ENG’86) Ryan Roth Gallo (LAW’99) Carol Kaufman (CAS’71) Ranch Kimball Alicia C. Mullen (CAS’83, Parent CAS’19) Allen Questrom (Questrom’64, Hon.’15) Hugo Shong (COM’87, GRS’90) Lou Volpe (Questrom’78) Collin Yip (Questrom’12)
Blake Sims, Program Director, Social Innovation Rachel Spekman, Program Director, Business Ventures Greg Stoller, Affiliated Faculty, Questrom School of Business Innovate@BU 5
By the Numbers Academic Year 2018â€“2019
5,773 visitors to the BUild Lab IDG Capital Student
123 registered student-led companies, nonprofits, or project teams
19 226 events and programs
17 All 17 of BUâ€™s schools and colleges participated in programming
student teams accepted to the Summer Accelerator, each receiving a $10,000 stipend
$342,900 awarded to student and alumni ventures and projects
Programs Whether they go on to become artists, teachers, doctors, marketers, or business owners, feeling comfortable with change, knowing how to build a strong team, stewarding collaboration, and leading with strong ethics will help BU students and alumni to create meaningful impact in their lives, careers, and communities. Learning these skills starts at Innovate@BU’s weekly program series. Every Tuesday, through hands-on workshops, students are introduced to these essential skills, including customer interviews, design thinking, team building, marketing, finance, prototyping, and pitching. From there, this skill set is embedded into every Innovate@BU program, from high-stakes pitch competitions to office hour sessions.
New Venture Competition: 3...2...1...Pitch! In October 2018, Innovate@BU’s New Venture Competition began with the widely known Round 1: Pitch & Pizza. With no slides and just 60 seconds at the microphone, 119 students pitched their ideas to a panel of judges and audience for a chance to move closer to the $18,000 grand prize. This year, support from Fernando Malenchini (Questrom’00) and the Executive MBA Class of 2018 Gift made it possible to add a two-track format to the competition. Students could compete in the Tech Idea Track or Social Impact Idea Track. Ultimately, three winners from each track won cash prizes ranging from $6,000 to $18,000. After eight months and three rounds of competition, the winners were announced on April 26, 2019, during the annual BU Innovators Night, just a few hours after their final pitch. By the final round of the competition, Ian Mashiter, Managing Director of the BUild Lab, said that the judges were looking for “in-depth details about the problem being solved, how customers will be reached, and especially how their business model is going to make them a success.” The judges awarded first place for Tech Ideas to Pangissimo (top), a portable modular surround sound speaker system. The prize money will enable the team to begin manufacturing and launch a Kickstarter campaign. First place for Social Impact Ideas was awarded to BRÜZD Foods (bottom), a subscription delivery service of “ugly” produce from local farms. The prize money will go toward an additional delivery vehicle, allowing them to serve its growing waiting list.
Pangissimo’s founding team: Constantine Hartofilis (ENG’19), Parsa Shahidi (ENG’19), James Qian (ENG’19), and Esiri Madagwa Jr. (ENG’19).
Meagan Spencer (Questrom’18), Program Director Blake Sims, BRÜZD Foods cofounders Parker Hughes and Saloni Shah (CAS’19), and interim Program Director Rouwenna Altemose (Questrom’18).
An Innovation Pathway for New Ideas Launching any new idea is challenging for even the most experienced innovators. Add in a busy school schedule, extracurricular activities, and the obstacles of inexperience, and it becomes even more difficult. The Innovation Pathway, generously sponsored by University overseer Cynthia Cohen (MET’77), provides students with a selfpaced process to launch a new venture or nonprofit while guiding them toward the necessary resources like funding, leadership skillbuilding, and mentoring. “Every time I judge or have office hours, I am amazed at the progress the teams make using the Innovation Pathway,” says Cohen. “I believe it helps them build out their ideas faster, with better quality, and if necessary, to pivot more quickly as they go through the stages of the program.” Launched in fall 2018, the Innovation Pathway consists of four stages: Get Inspired, Walk, Run, and Fly. At each stage, students are given coaching and a series of strategic deliverables to complete before they can move on to the next stage. For example, a Walk team must conduct customer interviews, complete a Lean Canvas, and develop a minimum viable product. Once completed, they share their progress through a pitch to an investment committee for a chance to receive a $1,000–$2,000 seed grant and advance to the next stage. “Just like any start-up, I believe the Innovation Pathway will have iterations of improvement as more teams go through it. I look forward to the recognition from the venture and business community so that BU students have a competitive advantage when they have gone through the Innovation Pathway,” says Cohen.
123 participating teams
16 schools and colleges represented
awarded to 20 teams
Get Inspired: Explore an Idea In this stage, students are encouraged to attend Idea Open-mic Nights to share and receive feedback on an idea or get inspired by fellow students.
Walk: Validate Your Idea This stage helps students interview potential customers and validate their idea. Humanize Us used findings from interviews and research to pivot from a digital currency for homeless populations into a database that connects housing organizations with potential donors.
Run: Launch Your Idea Whether it’s a finished product or a beta version, the Run stage is all about launching and growing the idea. Volunteerbased Boston Afterschool Music (BAM!) used mentorship and seed grants from the program to expand their free music lessons for Boston Public Schools and provide simple recording equipment.
Fly: Scale Your Idea When ready, teams are connected with community resources to help them scale. Flux Marine, cofounded by Daylin Frantin (Questrom’19), builds zero-emissions electric boat motors. After participating in the Summer Accelerator and the New Venture Competition, they were accepted into MassChallenge’s accelerator. Now, they are based at the Boston Design Center and have received external funding.
2019 Cohort Apollos is a cross-platform medical record application built for patients to have privacy, portability, and controlled access for their records. Bluebonnet Data makes tools that allow Democratic campaigns and state parties to visualize, analyze, and understand commonly available but underutilized data.
19 Ventures Accepted to Summer Accelerator For most college students, summer means working part-time or at an internship, traveling, spending time at home, or maybe taking a light course load. For some Boston University students, it is a time to dive into an entrepreneurial venture, whether it’s a physical product or service, a nonprofit or social impact idea, or a business focused on arts and culture. The Innovate@BU Summer Accelerator is a 10-week program that provides valuable time, space, resources, and a $10,000 stipend to a select cohort of student-led ventures. During the program, students work on their venture for at least 40 hours per week and utilize mentors and resources to make meaningful progress on their idea, whether that’s by conducting customer interviews to validate an idea, launching a beta product, or developing a goto-market strategy. This year, 73 applications were narrowed down to 19 final teams that represented nine different schools and colleges.
“A lot of us are really creative and adventurous in the way we look at the world; when we apply it to our ventures, it’s really reassuring because we have skills and the passion to change the world." Sarika Ram (CAS’21), cofounder, Surge Employment Solutions
CoCo College is an app that exclusively connects students within their own university, where they can buy and sell books, TVs, couches, and more. Collaborative Prep: College counseling is expensive and limited. We provide online, live, group college prep services to families, making it affordable and accessible. Community Connect is a web app that allows users and social workers to discover and share health resources in their area. Dynamic Pantry uses positive psychology techniques to empower clients to live more joyful lives through improved dietary and lifestyle habits. Every Hand is a Hero links sex trafficking victims and bystanders to resources and reporting tools. Healthy Gamer helps people struggling with video-game addiction to regain control of their lives. HigherPlace is an app that lets the artists in a city be searched by their name and/or profession and hired through direct messaging. Hirefive helps early-stage US startups build top tech teams remotely by connecting them with full-time senior engineers in Brazil.
Juriscape is a software platform that provides a cost-efficient way to ensure political campaigns are legally compliant. Konbit Inovasyon teaches Haitian youths design thinking and how this process can be used for culturally competent problem-solving in their communities. No-slosh Water Bottle by UNDEI is a water bottle designed to prevent sloshing; geared towards runners, it can also prevent excess air consumption when used to feed babies. ODE is a P2P service that allows you to get tasks done on demand from the convenience of your smartphone; we can help you save time, money, and peace of mind. Surge Employment Solutions permanently places formerly incarcerated people into highly skilled trade roles in the energy industry. Rilla is an online platform that provides guidance to startups through ecosystems and organizations. Script Solutions is a platform for the opioid prescription process, saving doctors more than three minutes per prescription and adhering to CDC guidelines for abuse potential.
Step Up Magazine is an online destination for young people to voice their opinions and have a safe space to write about their passions. Humanize Us is a centralized platform for making meaningful donations to others in the community.
Small Grants to Grow Big Ideas Every week, the BUild Lab is filled with hundreds of students from across the University. The Seed Grant Program allows Innovate@BU to reach even more students directly at their school or college and provides them with grants to help launch or grow an idea. The program was piloted in fall 2018 with the College of Fine Arts (CFA). “Artists in particular will chart their own, unique professional paths, and a well-developed sense of agency empowers them to generate their own opportunities,” said Jen Guillemin, Director of Arts Leadership and Innovation at CFA. “The seed grants offered the opportunity for CFA students to take an artistic project in the conceptual or idea phase and bring it to life. In addition to funding the translation of ideas into action, the grants also encouraged art students to explore experimental ways to attract and expand new audiences.” After a successful pilot program provided seven $500 grants to projects including New Venture Competition finalists Boston Afterschool Music (BAM!), the program was repeated in spring 2019 with the College of Fine Arts and Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies.
Photo by Jannah Mach
Grant project Dmitri in the Dark combines a string quartet with contemporary circus arts to celebrate the life of Dmitri Shostakovich. Quartet member Jess Cooper (CFA’19) said that the group already has ideas to scale the project, involving folkloric dance and live painting because as artists, “innovation means to look for new ways to excite people about the art that we dedicate our lives to.”
to have that support. It just adds more emphasis that cannabis is a legitimate industry.” The annual competition is open to any BU student or alum with an ancillary business idea for the cannabis industry. Businesses that grow or sell cannabis products are not eligible to compete.
Legal & Legit: Second Annual Cannabis Start-up Competition At the Second Annual Cannabis Start-up Competition on November 7, 2018, alum Taylor Aldredge (COM’10) (above) took home the $10,000 grand prize for his venture, Mary’s List, an online job site for the cannabis industry. The contest was sponsored by the Denver-based cannabis business strategy firm Green Lion Partners, owned by Jeff Zucker (Questrom’10) and Mike Bologna (Questrom’10). Aldredge said he was drawn to the competition because it was sponsored by BU and that “it means a lot as an alumnus
Nineteen applications were narrowed down to five finalists: Mary’s List; Green Spice (Juan Gallegos, CAS’21), a cannabis meal kit delivery service; Highly (William Belt, CGS’14, CAS’16), a networking site for cannabis entrepreneurs and investors; PuffSpot (Ben Reichelt, CGS’19), a mobile consumption area for private events; and Soberizer (Deepti Venkatraman, CGS’13, Sargent’15), an inhaled spray that can shut down the effects of THC. On November 7, 150 audience members watched the five finalists pitch to a panel of venture capitalists and cannabis industry experts for a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize and mentoring from Green Lion Partners. “It’s established us as being prepared to be nontraditional and to try something different,” said Ian Mashiter, Managing Director of the BUild Lab, “I think students appreciate and gravitate towards that.”
Student Leadership Student Leadership Council Students are not only the primary users of Innovate@BU programs and the BUild Lab IDG Capital Student Innovation Center but provide the guiding voice when it comes to developing new programs. The Student Leadership Council was established to ensure that student voice and vision continue to be embedded into the Innovate@BU community. The 11-member inaugural council was made up of undergrad, graduate, and PhD students representing six different schools and colleges. The students served as ambassadors for Innovate@BU’s mission across the University and developed their own programs, including a women founders panel, an idea open-mic night for student researchers, a public relations hackathon, and a tasting event featuring sustainable-food vendors. A sub-committee was integral to the success of IDEA Conference 2019: Embrace Your Impact, ensuring that speakers and workshops represented a range of topics and experiences.
The 2018-19 Student Leadership Council included Mackenzie Bullard (SPH’19), Sydney Gullet (CAS’20), Jordan Gutt (CGS’18, COM’19), Jon Hale (ENG’19), Louide-Meyard Xavier (Questrom’20), Lake Murphy (CAS’20), Krishna Sanka (ENG’16, ENG’21), Saloni Shah (CAS’19), Jasmine Tang (COM’21), Sammy Walker (CGS’17, Pardee’19), and Kevin Yu (ENG’19).
Hacking for Human Rights at the Global Impact Challenge by Jillian McKoy, School of Public Health When 40 visionary and tenacious minds convene with a shared purpose of improving the health of others, anything is possible. Such was the case for the participants of the inaugural Global Impact Challenge: Health & Human Rights Hackathon (GIC), which took place at the BUild Lab April 5–7, 2019. The event was created and organized by Master of Public Health students Anisha Borthakur (SPH’19), Mackenzie Bullard (SPH’19), and Valentina Vega (SPH’19). Unlike traditional hackathons that place emphasis on technology-focused solutions, this group assembled student innovators from the BU community and beyond with a goal to place humanity, human rights, and compassion at the forefront of health innovation.
The grand prize was awarded to Every Hand is a Hero, a platform to connect victims and bystanders of sex trafficking with resources and reporting tools. Team members include (left to right), Erin Sheehan (SSW’20), Madeleine Pouw (SPH’20), Kevin Peng (ENG’21), and Alex Wilks (SPH’19).
“We want to develop a human design-thinking process that puts people over profit,” said Bullard, who also serves on the Innovate@BU Student Leadership Council. “This work will help advance human well-being in the modern world. There are so many bad things going on. So, let’s fix them, and let’s start today.” In a whirlwind 48 hours, the students formed teams and with the help of on-site mentors began developing a solution attributed to at least one article in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Teams competed for four $500 awards and an opportunity in the final pitch round where they could secure a spot in the Innovate@BU Summer Accelerator.
The Nobel Prize for Students: BU Participates in International Hult Prize During the summer of 2018, Jessica Thai (CAS’20), Sheila Phillips (CAS’20), and Misty Ouyang (Sargent’20) traveled to Lebanon for three weeks for a Humanitarian Engineering course that was part of the Program in Interdisciplinary Humanitarian Engineering and Refugee Studies (pHERS). What started as an academic field experience ultimately led the three women to compete in the Hult Prize, an annual competition for college students. Sponsored by the Clinton Foundation and United Nations, the competition is designed to generate start-up ideas that sustainably solve the world’s most pressing social challenges. In 2018, the Hult Prize asked students to “develop an idea to provide meaningful work for 10,000 young people in the next decade.” While in Lebanon, the class visited the Saadnayel settlement in the Bekaa Valley, home to thousands of Syrian refugees. Through these visits and speaking to families, Thai, Phillips, and Ouyang learned about the severe need for education in the settlement after its only school had been shut down. “The parents expressed their concerns for their children, not only because they weren’t getting educated but also because they were becoming very restless,” noted Thai. “For us, it seemed like providing education was not only beneficial for their academic success but also for their mental health.”
Photo by Katie Clifford
Their experiences inspired them to create MadrasaTech, an educational program that uses a small Raspberry Pi computer to turn televisions in settlement tents into learning devices, focusing on basic reading and math taught in Arabic, and basic English lessons. In November 2018, the team entered BU’s Hult Prize collegiate round, the first step of competing for the $1 million grand prize from the United Nations. Beginning with 16 proposals in November, a faculty panel chose 6 BU finalists to compete in December for a spot in the Hult Prize Regional Competition. Ideas included: CareerPeak, a career platform for non-STEM students; ODE (formerly Favorit), an on-demand tasks and errands app; Mæven, a gamified tutoring platform; Healthy Gamer, a video-game addiction recovery program; VERTO, an app for buying and selling used items on college campuses; and the winning BU idea, MadrasaTech’s refugee education program. Ultimately, MadrasaTech did not advance to the final international round, but that hasn’t stopped them–or any of the BU finalists–from actively working on their ideas. In fact, VERTO and Mæven each won $8,000 in the New Venture Competition, and ODE and Healthy Gamer participated in the most recent BU Summer Accelerator. Innovate@BU and a team of student leaders plan to run a campus competition this fall after the 2019 Hult Prize theme is announced in September.
Curriculum Innovation & Entrepreneurship Minor Launches Fall 2019 After two years of research and development, the innovation and entrepreneurship minor for all undergraduate students will launch in fall 2019. “We have worked hard to create a minor that will appeal to the broadest swath of students,” says Siobhan O’Mahony, Innovate@BU Academic Director and Questrom Feld Family Professor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “This minor will enable every student developing their passions in focused majors like art, biology, religion, political science, or history to also gain enough knowledge and capability to learn how to transform their expertise into exciting new ventures, whether they further social or business aims.” The minor’s core course, Ideas2Impact, will introduce students to tried-and-true frameworks for innovation and developing new ideas. In its first semester, in fall 2019, students will use those frameworks to create a solution for a problem they identify in the City of Boston.
Innovate@BU Offers Cocurriculars for Hub Units In fall 2018, the University launched the BU Hub, its new general education program that requires students to take a variety of courses and cocurricular learning experiences outside of their major. This year, Innovate@BU offered two Hub Cocurriculars, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in ideating and problem solving. Innovation Pathway Cocurricular: In this cocurricular, students explored the process and tools needed to create a product or service. Their projects included creating a pricing structure for an app that provides refugee resources, identifying best practices for scaling mentorship programs in high school and college, and developing a pitch for carbonreducing technology. Innovation for Social Impact: This cocurricular applied the design thinking process to deeply understand social challenges selected by the students. Their chosen topics
included plastic packaging and food waste on BU’s campus and strategies to reduce carbon emissions. Through readings, TEDtalks, discussions, reflections, and hands-on research, students developed a deeper understanding of the broader systems related to their topics.
In the Community
Photos by Nicole O’Connor
IDEA Conference: Embrace Your Impact On Saturday, March 2, 2019, despite a few inches of snow falling to the ground, more than 300 students, alumni, and community members–including a bus full from the University of New Hampshire–made their way to Boston for the Second Annual IDEA Conference: Embrace Your Impact, generously sponsored by Lou Volpe (Questrom’78). The IDEA Conference is a one-day event for Boston-area students to explore innovation of every kind. Whether it’s through technology, social impact, or arts and culture, the conference encourages students to embrace their passions and use them to create meaningful impact. “Conferences like IDEA 2019 and spaces like the BUild Lab can really change some of the narratives around the ways businesses operate,” said Dielle Lundberg (SPH’19), cofounder of Make Fashion Clean, a nonprofit that up-cycles denim and provides work for Ghanaian women with disabilities or children with disabilities. The morning was filled with inspirational talks from BU and Boston innovators who shared their unplanned journeys into entrepreneurship. Among them was Ellice Patterson (Questrom’17) (left), the founder and
director of Abilities Dance Boston, a professional dance company for people with and without disabilities. After a spinal surgery forced her to relearn how to dance she pivoted from a biological scientist and researcher into one as creative entrepreneur who leads with the belief that “intersectionality is key to a more equitable future.” “We put a lot of stock in stats and numbers. Figures. Dollars. Cents. Today, reprioritize that a little bit. Soul reprioritizes that and says that the facts and people have to be the more important thing.” -Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore at IDEA 2019.
During the afternoon, attendees chose from 14 workshops, including How to Raise Money for Your Nonprofit and ForProfit, The Artist as Entrepreneur, and How to Discover and Activate Your Purpose. The conference closed with alumna and author Anjali Kumar (LAW’98) (top), who previously served in general and senior counsel roles at Warby Parker, Acumen, Google, and Cheddar. Most recently, she cofounded The Justice Department, a women-led strategy firm for women entrepreneurs. Kumar said if she had to pick one top takeaway for conference attendees to remember, it’s to “be comfortable with uncertainty and follow your curiosity. You can’t innovate without those things.”
Innovation Week at BU 2019 “Innovation happens in every discipline and at every level,” said Rouwenna Altemose (Questrom’18), Innovate@BU Interim Program Director of Business Ventures and coordinator for Innovation Week 2019. “Sometimes that can be hard to see when the work is happening inside classrooms, labs, institutes, or clubs—it’s impossible to know what’s going on everywhere at BU. Innovation Week is a way to bring some of this amazing work forward and highlight it.” The second annual Innovation Week at BU was held April 22–29 and included more than 40 events across the University. Events ranged from sustainable-food tastings, research presentations, cooking demos, a start-up career fair, a student arts festival, a panel with BU women founders, and a tour of the BU Hybrid Racing team’s car and garage. The week culminated with BU Innovators Night, a celebratory evening including the New Venture Competition finale. During the event, the annual Henry Morgan Award was presented to BU Overseer Cynthia Cohen (MET’77) for her ongoing commitment to entrepreneurial programs at BU, including the Innovation Pathway. Shena Lohardjo (Questrom’19) was named Student Innovator of the Year, sponsored by the law firm of Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, PC, for her efforts to help build, launch, and grow the Innovation Pathway program.
Innovation Week events and programs
participating schools and colleges
events, including a
Opportunities Program, and Howard Thurman Center
Jordan Gutt (COM’19) and Sydney Gullet (CAS’20) (right) led a panel featuring seniors Fiona Whittington (COM’19) (center), founder of TechTogether, one of the largest female and non-binary hackathons, and Emma Johnson (COM’19) (left), founder of EmJohn Jewelry. Both panelists related the challenges of launching a new ventures as a student and its rewards; for Johnson, her profits paid for her BU tuition.
tasting and a public relations hackathon
Hosted by the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Club, more than 15 Boston area start-ups and 100+ students connected at the biannual Start-up Career Fair. (Above, Entrepreneurship Club President Brian Fakhoury, CAS’20).
Our Partners Innovate@BU’s Industry and Ecosystem Partners provide student ventures with important tools to help them succeed as they grow their ideas, teams, customers, and organizations. Learn more about these partners: bu.edu/innovate/build-your-idea/resources
In September, Archelle Thelambaque (COM’21) presented a lightning talk, “Our Music Matters, Too,” about what it means to be an artist of color in the current music industry. Her talk, hosted at the BUild Lab, was part of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Fierce Urgency of Now, a six-day festival designed to highlight the experiences of, challenges, and possibilities for millennials of color in Boston.
In partnership with WEBOS Week (Women Entrepreneurs Boston) through the City of Boston Mayor’s Office, four women founders, including Julie Johnson from Armored Things, shared how they launched their tech start-ups without a technical background.
Alumni Alumni play a unique role within Innovate@BU as both users and contributors to its resources. Thanks to IDG Capital, 13 alumni-led teams have been able to make the BUild Lab their primary office as they launch new ventures, including tech solutions for the medical industry, artificial intelligence tools for marketing, and a platform for connecting outdooradventure seekers to each other and trips. Alternatively, dozens of alumni from Boston and beyond have hosted invaluable office hours for current students, providing industry-specific insight and entrepreneurship fundamentals. They have served as guest speakers and workshop leaders, judges at pitch competitions, and starting this fall, dedicated mentors to student venture and project teams. Learn more about alumni resources and engagement opportunities by reaching out to Micaelah Morrill, Director of External Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rushi Gahnmuki (ENG’10,’14) (second from right) and his company Bola AI are one of 13 alumni ventures that are headquartered at the BUild Lab. He and his team are building AI-voice charting systems for researchers and healthcare providers.
Thirty-five alumni spoke or led workshops at IDEA Conference 2019. Rebecca Love (CGS’99, Pardee’01) (left) and Marion McNabb (SPH’13) (center) shared their pathways from BU to founders of medical start-ups. Love founded HireNurses.com, later acquired by Ryalto. McNabb is the founder of Cannabis Community Care & Research Network.
Alumni play a major role in Innovate@BU programs, especially in the New Venture Competition, where they serve as judges for all three rounds. In December, Emma Loeb (COM’16), Impact Lead at WeWork and founder of Sol-A-Granola, served as a judge for Pitch & Pizza for Social Impact Ideas.
Over the past 18 months, Innovate@BU has operated much like a start-up; testing and launching new ideas, reviewing feedback, and growing its team. Entering its second full year of operation, the team looks forward to improving its current programs and introducing new initiatives for the BU community, including: First-Year Innovation Fellowship (FYIF): The FYIF is a program for first-year undergraduate students who are eager to join BUâ€™s innovation community and start working on their own project or idea. Beginning in the fall semester, a small cohort of students will each receive a $500 seed grant, coaching and mentoring, and exclusive programming to help them launch their idea throughout the academic year. The
program will also prepare them for leadership roles across the University, like serving on the Innovate@BU Student Leadership Council. Mentoring Innovation Network (MIN): Piloted during the 2019 Summer Accelerator, the MIN program matches seasoned entrepreneurs, innovators, and business executives as mentors to aspiring BU innovators. The program will formally launch in fall 2019 and will be available to current students participating in the Innovation Pathway. (Pictured above, the outgoing and incoming Innovate@BU Student Leadership Council and Club Leaders.)
Alexander Golob (CFA’16) transformed Innovate@BU’s vision statement into a work of art housed at the BUild Lab IDG Capital Student Innovation Center. Using laser-cut and inlaid wood, the four stages of the Innovation Pathway–Get Inspired, Walk, Run, and Fly–are captured on each corner.
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