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What Would You Do For $100K?

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On Wednesday, May 16th, 2007, some of us at Fresh Tilled Soil had the pleasure of attending the final ceremony and grand prize awards for the MIT 100K. Now in its 18th year, this student run organization serves as a forum for allowing small teams to compete by submitting and presenting various business plans. It also serves as a magnet for venture capital firms looking for new game.

As a firm we were very impressed by the breadth and complexity of the majority of ideas and plans we saw presented during the ceremony, the majority of which dealt with renewable sources of energy and affordable health care for developing nations suffering from certain curable illnesses. We felt very optimistic after seeing the feasibility of some solutions yet to be embraced by industry leaders and overall, the ceremony seemed to symbolize change and innovation.

We also had a vested interest in attending the ceremony. Earlier this year, 2006-2007. Organizational Team Leader Trond Wuellner approach Fresh Tilled Soil in search of a new web presence and logo for the competition. At this time, the website is nearly complete for the 2007/08 season and the identity has already been upgraded and was presented on all new materials.

Inspiration abounded throughout the event – especially when the night’s keynote speaker – Boston Scientific Co-Founder and Chariman of the Board, Pete M. Nicholas, bestowed upon the audience the following four principles from his own professional journey:

  1. Find out who you are, what motivates you and what makes you happy.
  2. Approach what you’re doing from a long-term perspective.
  3. Align your personal principles with the management of your endeavor.
  4. Know when to step aside and hand the reigns to someone qualified to continue your vision.

The Grand Prize winners included Bagazo for the Development Track and Robopsy for the Venture Track. Bagazo discovered that using the waste from sugar cane was less expensive, more sustainable and more readily abundant than wood burning fuels in developing countries and Robopsy has engineered an automatic medical device already tested at Massachusetts General Hospital by Radiologists performing biopsies.

Other noteworthy teams included:

Venture Finalists

  • Bodega Algae – The development of microalgae photobioreactors for biofuel.
  • C3 BioEnergy – Manufacturing of propane through renewable feedstock.
  • Emerginvest.com – A web-based tool helping investors find emerging and new markets throughout the world.
  • GetVendors.com – A Community recommendation tool matching professionals to customers.
  • ImmuneXite – A health product that fights bacteria and fungi already resistant to current antibiotics.
  • MAD Nanolayers – Multi-Agent Delivery coating technology able to deliver medication sequentially and with precise dosage control.

Development Finalists

  • intrFin – A web-based marketplace connecting potential investors with microfinance opportunities in developing countries.
  • Promethean Power – A solar micro-generator using turbines from car parts to supply energy for residential and commercial demand.
  • Saafwater – A daily chlorinated cartridge aimed at drastically reducing fatal diarrheal disease in poor, urban area of developing nations.
  • VitalMed -Producing a low-cost vital stats monitor offering 90% of features that current medical technologies valued at 3K provide – but for a mere fraction of the cost.

2007/08 Organizational Team Leaders Jeff Sabados and Gaëtan Bonhomme also announced that the new season’s competition would include a condensed “Elevator Pitch” segment allowing students to get feedback on their ideas faster. FTS Founder Richard Banfield has already expressed interest in a potential partnership with Startup Business School, a Fresh Tilled Soil product for early stage entrepreneurs, and the new MIT Elevator Pitch competition.

Author Alex Fedorov

Alex is a strategic thinker with a gift for information architecture, known for his ability to wireframe complex workflows and multiple states of applications at the speed of light. He is passionate about clean, data-driven design.

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