A look back at this year’s Beantown Throwdown

Boston is home to over 60 colleges and universities, making it no surprise that some of the most creative and inventive student-founded startups are coming out of the area. At HUBweek, we celebrating that very student entrepreneurship with Beantown Throwdown.

Hosted by HUBweek in partnership with the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge, Beantown Throwdown featured student teams representing a dozen local colleges and universities, including Babson College, Berklee College of Music, Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Harvard University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), MIT, Northeastern University, Tufts University, UMass Boston, and Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Here’s how the Throwdown went down: each team made a three-minute pitch to the audience and were then interviewed by Scott Kirsner’s panel of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. After that, the audience casted their vote for the most impressive companies by “investing” in them with MITEF Money. In the end, the three teams with the most funding were proclaimed the winners.

Not only were they competing for bragging rights, but some sweet prizes, too. The winner received thousands of dollars’ worth of legal and marketing communications services, and a coveted spot at the MITEF of Cambridge’s annual Startup Spotlight.

In the end of it all, WorkAround from Brandeis came out on top.

Pitched by Founder/CEO Wafaa Arbash, WorkAround’s mission is to empower refugees by connecting them to online microwork, while also providing high quality, cost-effective talent for US companies.

WorkAround Founder/CEO Wafaa Arbash accepts the Beantown Throwdown trophy from Katja Wald, executive director of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge.

MCPHS’s Hear Me Now placed second. Hear Me Now is developing an app focused on improving communications in the deaf community. The app uses motion detection technology to translate text into American Sign Language.

“Participating in the Beantown Throwdown was my first pitch competition, and surely not my last. The biggest takeaway I received was from listening to the expert panel. It was like a free consulting session with some truly successful innovators.” — Patsy Casalino (Co-Founder, Hear Me Now)

In third was MIT’s Infinite Cooling, which creates a product that enables power plants to capture the water vapor released from cooling towers, therefore reducing freshwater consumption by over 20%.

A special thank you goes out to the opening panelists, too. Scott Kitsner, Woody Benson, Dave Balter and 2015 Beantown Throwdown winner, MightyWell Co-founder and CEO Emily Levy offered some invaluable insights to the audience and startup representatives alike.

Panelists (from left to right): Emily Levy, Dave Balter, Scott Kirsner, Woody Benson

Interested in participating in the Throwdown next year? Infinite Cooling Co-Founder Karim Khalil offered some advice for other companies who may compete in the future:

“I would recommend to try to communicate the value proposition as clearly as possible in the pitch, show customer engagement and traction, and most importantly, show visuals of a prototype or an MVP if possible.”

Thank you to all who joined us at the Beantown Throwdown. For more information, be sure to visit HUBweek.org or follow us @HUBweek. The countdown begins for HUBweek 2018 — dates will be announced soon!

Keep an eye out for more HUBweek Highlights headed your way this month, and be sure to stay connected by signing up for our email list.

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