What an exciting few weeks it has been! Starting at the MIT campus on September 12, MIT’s Global Founders’ Skill Accelerator (GFSA) has recently completed outstanding presentations to over 1,200 attendees at Demo Days in Boston, New York City, and San Francisco.
Fourteen teams started with the accelerator at the beginning of summer – my first summer as GFSA program director and Entrepreneur in Residence. Twelve teams made it through the summer boot camp, yet the experiences of the two that didn’t make it to Demo Day are as important as the 12 that did. The lessons of leadership and commitment – along with knowing when to pull a plug on a business or pivot when the business doesn’t align with your goals – are key lessons for entrepreneurs.
The teams that came into the boot camp were students as undergraduates, Masters students, and Ph.D. students. Many graduated from MIT in June after the Accelerator program started, savoring their accomplishments for just a day or two before jumping back into the demands of an educational accelerator boot camp. Directing this program for the first time, I observed a very ambitious group that was also very aligned with the MIT community culture, which supports the teams through its educational process and ecosystem.
Life in Entrepreneur Boot Camp
The boot camp curriculum was mixed with faculty from MIT and community practitioners that offered the students the fundamentals and the application of concepts that are key to building a company, understanding your customer, creating a product customers will purchase, having a team that is committed and understands the vision, as well as understanding business and investment fundamentals. The boot camp puts a heavy emphasis on learning about the motivations and needs of every participant in the value chain you want to enter.
The focus on the customer and primary market research for many of the teams was a challenge. I came into the program with the belief that MIT students can solve any technical problem and that was validated. However, I did see many students challenged when it came to listening to customers, iterating on their product based upon that feedback, and communicating to investors, other students and the community about their company.
Can the MIT accelerator experience be replicated? I am sure it can, but MIT is helped immensely by its culture and its ecosystem. The MIT culture one of creativity, supported by an ecosystem that puts an instructional focus on user-focused business and product design. It is a culture that supports entrepreneurial activities at every stage of the journey.
2015 MIT Global Founders’ Skill Accelerator Companies
Here are the 12 outstanding startups that presented on Demo Day. If you are interested in learning more, their website or contact information is included. At this stage, many of the companies are actively looking for advisors, are hiring and several will be fundraising. You can also view the video of the entire Boston Demo Day event here.
Genesis DNA is developing a next-generation gene synthesis technology that can synthesize gene length DNA at a fraction of the price and turnaround time of existing services. (Genesisdna.com)
Humon is building a wearable which non-invasively measures the way athletes’ muscles use oxygen in real time, identifying their lactic acid threshold and unlocking their true potential. (Humon.io)
Intentiv Robotics is creating the first Aerial Control System for drone cinematography, giving videographers full manual control of their aerial camera and allowing them to execute complex aerial shots intuitively. (Intentiv.io)
Khethworks makes reliable, solar-powered irrigation systems designed for small-acreage farmers that enable their customers to cultivate year round and already has multiple pilot sites on the ground in east India. (Khethworks.com)
Lumio is building a digital health companion, powered by their revolutionary device that provides clinical-grade diagnostics in the home in hours instead of weeks. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Morphlab is a company that is focused on furniture with superpowers. The team is creating scalable technologies that enable reconfiguration of interior spaces that dramatically increase efficiency, affordability and functionality of urban micro-apartments. (Morphlab.com)
Sandymount has proprietary tools to ship natively brewed beers internationally while maintaining the flavor and experience they would have in their region of origin in a cost effective manner. (SandymountTechnologies.com)
Spyce is developing the world’s first completely automatic restaurant. A Spyce kitchen cooks and serves delicious meals from fresh ingredients with no human involvement. (spyce.io)
Tekuma connects artists with Airbnb hosts to create personalized galleries in shared living spaces. At the nexus of art, hospitality and real estate they can enhance exposure, environments and guest experience. (tekuma.io)
Woobo opens the world of imagination, fun and knowledge to children, bringing the magic of a robot companion to their lives. A plush doll with artificial intelligence capabilities, Woobo gives children infinite access to stories, music, and knowledge, which are developmentally appropriate and will help them grow. (woobo.io)
In addition to the MIT-led teams there were two international teams:
Emma from ITAM in Mexico City is a company that provides companionship and mobility assistance for the elderly generation. It connects decision makers, their son or daughter, with a companion that best fits their love one’s needs. (miemma.com)
VSParticle from TU Delft in the Netherlands is revolutionizing how electronics are manufactured. The company core technology enables them to fundamentally change the current production system, replacing the wasteful etching process by a simple printing process. (vsparticle.com)
Again, all the best to the spectacular start-ups that worked so hard this summer!