Despite the downpour in Boston, a good group showed up at the final awards ceremony for the MIT $100K competition. The event is famous for forging many startups, including our own Akamai, and generating billions in value and thousands of jobs.
The $100K has a development track for businesses targeting the third world and having blended profit/socio-economic impact goals. It was impressive to see the drive of the entrepreneurs and the range of ideas + approaches adapted to developing economies. The runner ups were Promethean Power (solar concentrators + turbines made from car parts) and SaafWater (multi-level marketing scheme for distributing daily chlorine treatments for safe water). The winner was Bagazo whose goal is to produce an alternative home fuel–charcoal from sugar cane waste. I’ve seen the burning of sugar cane fields in Hawaii. It seemed like a waste. Turns out it was.
The VC track (“traditional startups”) had a great mix of enertech, life sciences. and tech startups. The runner ups were C3 Bioenergy (renewable propane gas production) and ImmuneExcite (FDA approved particle for boosting immune response). The winner was Robopsy (robotic device for remote-controlled biopsies). Oops, no tech winners this year…
For next year the event will change somewhat. There will be a number of $1,000 awards early in the process to give teams a bit of diligence capital. This doesn’t sound like much but it’s a meaningful amount for a student or a post-doc. Also, semi-fanilists will be paired with legal and VC advisors in addition to the mentors they will still have.