March 21, 2014

Four Teams Participate in Pitch Round Event

Piinc: Pat Thompson, Alex Schwarzkopf, Dylan Powers, and Matthew Joyal

On March 6, four Accelerate teams pitched in front of a panel of three judges during the first Pitch Round of 2014.

Accelerate, Wentworth Innovation + Entrepreneurship Center changed its funding model this year with the introduction of Pitch Round on March 6 in Willson Hall. Instead of two large Pitchfest events at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters, multiple funding rounds are now introduced over the course of the year. Teams now have more opportunities to pitch for gap funding while prioritizing their next steps, for which they request funds.

Teams invited to attend this round have either received funding in the past, or presented a product that showed substantial promise. The four groups that pitched March 6 were the following:

  • Pure Innovation, Inc. (Piinc): (Alex Schwarzkopf, BELM ’15; Dylan Powers, BELM ’15; Matthew Joyal, BELM ’15; Pat Thompson, BIND ’14) This team’s system can detect sport-related concussions and notify coaches or personnel with real-time monitoring.
  • Simply Stored:  (Deborah Massaro, BSA ’14; Stephanie Nannariello, BIND ’14) Simply Stored offers a decorative and space-saving way to organize nail polish.  
  • Gentoo: (Greg Affsa, BIND ’15; Ben Nadeau, BELM ’13) Gentoo’s innovative vest provides freedom and mobility for outpatient infusion treatments.
  • Entrep: (Scott Bonney, BELM ’14; Brandon Dryer, BELM ’14; Kimm Silva, BIND ’14) Entrep developed an online student entrepreneurial community where users can communicate, find help, and access free resources and support.  

Piinc did not request funding at the last Pitchfest, and used the event more so as a generator for feedback and an opportunity to familiarize with the atmosphere. The group was recognized by the panel for product innovation and commercialization potential. Since the last round, the team has created a more concrete model, and aims to have a prototype constructed by early fall. The panel, which awarded a total of $6,000 to teams on this night, funded Piinc $3,000 during Pitch Round.

Simply Stored received $6,000 in a 2012 Pitchfest. The team has since used the money, and pitched to attain additional funding to buy a second provisional patent and manufacture a small quantity of their prototype to test with users and show to retailers. They were awarded $1,000.  

Gentoo was granted $10,000 in 2012, and has stretched the funds out until recently. Since the 2012 Pitchfest, Gentoo has been a finalist in both Mass Challenge and the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2). The main proposition for more funding was to increase inventory, and the team was thrilled to have received $2,000.

Entrep was recognized last semester for team cohesiveness and constellation. Instead of modifying their original product like the other groups invited back, Entrep generated an entirely new idea. Initially, the group called itself Resistance, and developed an urban-friendly electrical bike model. Now, the group is building an interactive database to assist students who are seeking entrepreneurial advice. Entrep’s goal was to receive funding to secure a domain name and begin marketing efforts, as well as receive feedback on which feature to emphasis on the site.

This session’s panel included Jerry Cotellessa, information technology and services consultant; Karen Reuther, creative director and brand strategist at Cast Collective; and Rick Hutton, sales and business development consultant.

The structure of this event was more casual and conversational than Pitchfest, and allotted longer time limits for each group.  

“This funding round was nice in the sense that 15 minutes allowed for a more in depth look at the product as opposed to a 50 thousand foot overview,” said Alex Schwarzkopf of the Piinc team. “Especially for an idea as complex, technically and ergonomically, as the one we’re working on.”

Scott Bonney of Entrep added that “you definitely benefit from this kind of structure with more pitch rounds. There are more chances to get funded and more chances for feedback.”

Since its start in the summer of 2012, Accelerate has funded 20 teams for a total of $97,000. The next Pitch Round is scheduled for April 10, 2014. 

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