Mass Innovation Nights 120: Brandeis-Affiliated Startups

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Mass Innovation Nights 120

March 14, 2019

On Thursday, March 14th, Mass Innovation Nights returned to Brandeis University, one year to the day of its last visit to this Waltham university campus.

MIN Expert Corner: Rong Zhou and Nazita Gamini, Entrepreneurial Leads for the I-Corps National Teams program; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Every month, Mass Innovation Nights features startups from around Massachusetts. On this particular night, the theme was connected to the location, as all of the startups had a Brandeis connection.

Mass Innovation Nights always assembles a terrific event. It’s a little less tech-heavy than the other events I cover, since its focus isn’t specifically or solely on tech companies, but I’m always pleased to support local businesses and to shine a light on local entrepreneurs, tech or otherwise.

Mass Innovation Nights 120: Brandeis Faculty Club at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA

The event always kicks off with an hour of networking, allowing attendees to talk with the exhibiting companies and learn more about them. It’s during this time the attendees vote on their favorite showcasing startups, with the top four vote-getters receiving prizes. This isn’t the only voting taking place in relation to Mass Innovation Nights (MIN); prior to the event, voting occurs on the MIN website, and the top four pre-event vote-getters are selected to give presentations at the event.

GreenChoice presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

The presentation phase of the evening kicks off with brief presentations by the “Expert Corner” experts, followed by presentations from the four pre-event vote winnings startups.

The evening’s “experts” were Ben Gomes-Casseres, a professor at the Brandeis International Business School; Ian Roy of the Brandeis University MakerLab; Nazita Gamini and Rong Zhou, Brandeis Licensing Associates representing the National Science Foundation I-Corps (Innovation Corps) National Teams program; Jordana Goodman of Danielson Legal LLC; and Christina Inge of Thoughtlight, experienced with leading digital strategy and managing complex mar-tech projects.

Flora on the Menorah presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

The presenting startups were GreenChoice, Flora on the Menorah, Branda, and SciLinkR. At-event voting winners were Roselle Cosmetics, SciLinkR, GreenLabs, and GreenChoice.

Following are brief overviews of the startups featured at MIN 120. As always, these are high-level overviews based on the website, handouts, discussions, and presentations. If you’re interested, please dig in deeper on your own in case I’ve missed or misunderstood something important. I include links for you; their websites are a good place to start your deeper dive.

SciLinkR is a website that connects educators and scientists nationwide, an ideal way to help put scientists in the classroom or to arrange field trips so students can see scientists at work.

Branda presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Keysie Key Wallets are a new way to help keys be easy to find, multi-functioning as mini-wallets as well. At the booth, Keysie was also showcasing a similar product designed for hockey families, specifically to keep mouthguards from resting at the bottom of stinky hockey bags between games.

Branda is a particularly interesting showcased product. Utilizing a variety of information sources, this app allows Brandeis students to connect with campus services and information, ranging from obvious things like aggregating news and the hours for places and events on campus to more interesting things like tracking the bus routes to anticipate arrival times or identifying how many (and which) washing machines are available and how much time is left on them.

GreenLabs solves a problem likely only known to people who work at research facilities, where pipette tip boxes are often tossed as medical waste when recycled with standard recycling and, therefore, though clean, are difficult to recycle. GreenLabs Recycling Service solves that problem by collecting and recycling these plastic boxes.

SciLinkR presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Flora on the Menorah is Chanukah’s answer to Elf on the Shelf. It’s a book, plush menorah with removable candles, and plush flower, “Flora.” Adorable.

GreenChoice also appeared at last year’s Brandeis-themed Mass Innovation Nights event, MIN108. The GreenChoice app went live on the very day of MIN120, so it was a big day for this local green startup favorite. GreenChoice is a platform that allows people to grocery shop in line with their health, ethics, and sustainability preferences, also containing pricing information, too.

At-event voting winners; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Roselle Cosmetics, showcasing both lipstick and chapstick at MIN120, is a company that makes organic, non-toxic, eco-friendly lip products at a reasonable cost. I’m far from an expert in this space, but it certainly sounds like a welcome addition that serves a potentially profitable market niche.

The Brandeis MakerLab and Brandeis Innovation also had booths at the evening’s event.

Conclusion

Thus concludes another Mass Innovation Nights event summary. In addition to the links I provided, you can find company information by following this link and then clicking on the “Vote Here” tab of the MIN 120 web page.

Next month’s event, MIN121, is scheduled for April 11 at the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub in Lowell, MA. Barring an unexpected scheduling conflict, I’ll be there. If you can get to it, it should be another terrific showcase of innovation Massachusetts startups.

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