Babson College’s LOU and Tufts University’s VASERA Win Best Student Startup Honors at Regions’ Top Multi-University Pitch-off

College of Holy Cross’ Wilox and Wentworth’s Eleis Farm earn second and third place spots at the MIT Enterprise Forum Cambridge’s Beantown Throwdown

BOSTON, Nov. 20, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A pair of startups – one providing online training for users of complex computing platforms and the other developing temporary, non-hormonal male contraceptives – took top honors at the MIT Enterprise Forum Cambridge’s 6th Annual Beantown Throwdown. LOU from Babson College proved the audience favorite, while VASERA from Tufts University earned the nod from the evening’s expert panel.

The standing-room-only pitch-off, hosted at LogMeIn’s global headquarters in Boston’s Innovation District and sponsored by Castor Ventures, brought together investors, serial entrepreneurs, business leaders and the media. With 11 college and university student-startup teams battling for recognition, each provided a 3-minute pitch before facing rapid-fire questions from fellow entrepreneurs, the press and others active in the region's innovation economy.

Once pitches were complete, audience members served as venture investors for the night. Armed with millions of dollars in “MITEFMoney,” the crowd determined winning teams by “investing” in the startups that impressed them the most. The teams securing the largest investments earned the top three spots.

Earning the evening’s second largest investment was Wilox from the College of Holy Cross for its bacteria-killing product to prevent the spread of viruses. Elies Farm from Wentworth Institute, which helps red palm oil farmers in Guinea to increase their yield while reducing their impact on the environment, took third place.

New this year, experts from the evening’s opening panel selected the company they thought best positioned for success –VASERA from Tufts University. LogMeIn also chose its winner, McGill University’s Nimbus, a mobile platform connecting motivated students with passionate tutors.

In addition to bragging rights, winning teams earned thousands of dollars’ worth of in-kind services and other valuable prizes to help move their ventures forward. Notably, included among the rewards are guaranteed spots at the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) Cambridge’s Startup Spotlight, a sell-out event each year and set for early summer in 2019.

Kicking off the evening with a discussion about the many opportunities and challenges facing young entrepreneurs, Boston Business Journal’s Kelly O’Brien moderated a panel of experts well-versed in the innovation ecosystem, including: Nick Meyer, entrepreneur-in-residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and MIT lecturer; 2016 Beantown Throwdown winner Wafaa Arbash, WorkAround CEO;  and Kelsey Alpaio, assistant editor at Innovation Leader.

Representing the breadth and depth of the region’s student startup community, competing schools and startups included:

  • Berklee College of Music – Smart education powered by advanced AI.
  • Boston College – Transeo: Empowering, tracking, and verifying community service experiences.
  • Boston University – Pangissimo: A portable modular surround sound system. 
  • Brandeis University – A.I. Capital Management: Combining deep reinforcement learning with quantitative trading.
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – VRx: Virtual reality-based programs for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  • McGill University – Nimbus: A mobile platform connecting motivated students with passionate tutors.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology – AirWorks: Survey-grade, cost-effective aerial maps and 3D models to improve construction and development projects.

“This year’s Beantown Throwdown provides a perfect snapshot of our region’s innovation economy,” said Katja Wald, executive director, MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge. “LOU and VERSERA are very different startups focusing on completely different markets, but each has identified a pressing need and is building a solution to address it. Along with the other nine startups, these teams prove that innovation is thriving on campuses. The MIT Enterprise Forum Cambridge and our sponsors welcome the opportunity to showcase that.” 

About the MIT Enterprise Forum Cambridge

The MIT Enterprise Forum Cambridge is the founding chapter and one of 27 worldwide chapters comprising the MIT Enterprise Forum, Inc. Celebrating its 40th anniversary of offering more than 40 programs and events annually that inspire innovation, MIT Enterprise Forum Cambridge initiatives facilitate critical one-on-one mentoring while providing team services that increase the skills and expertise necessary for entrepreneurs to succeed.


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