Monthly Archive for February, 2011

Pitch Kitchen at MIT

AQUA PitchThere is a growing ecology of resources at MIT that support student ventures – from grounded ideation in programs like D-Lab to launch mechanisms like the $100k business plan competition. The idea behind Pitch Kitchen is to create an informal environment where students can trial their venture pitches in from of a mixed audience – representatives across these resources – and receive helpful feedback that sets them up for success down the road.

We had our first Pitch Kitchen in February 16. Peter Kang of Team AQUA presented the idea and business model for his project – an online game that is one part education tool and another part charity platform. In the room were representatives from $100k Emerging Markets Track, the Entrepreneurship Center, a communications expert from CSAIL, and yours truly from IDEAS/GC.

Kudos to Peter for his stamina – after presenting his 8-minute pitch he endured nearly a solid hour of intense questioning from panelists – all with the intent of helping Peter and team AQUA sharpen their message around a few key areas:

  • Community connection and impact
  • Transparency and accountability in income and expenditures
  • Representing communities without exploiting ie “gamifying” communities
  • Business and sustainability model
  • Translation of online income into on-the-ground impact

Interested in experiencing the crucible? Join us for the next Pitch Kitchen on Wednesday, 3/16 from 5:00-7:00pm in 4-145. Questions? Email lhtorres at mit dot edu.

Farmhack@MIT

Hey there’s a great event coming up at MIT in early March. Its called Farmhack, and the purpose is to bring together New England small-scale farmers and MIT engineers to identify projects for collaboration. There seems to be a consensus that the equipment available is costly, or simply does not respond well to the needs, constraints, and conditions of America’s small acreage farmers. Some of the areas that have come up include seeding technologies, soil monitoring systems, lifestock monitoring systems, irrigation systems. And more! So, if you are a New England farmer or an MIT engineer interested in using small-scale farms as laboratories for innovation, join us! Here are the details.

Farmers -

Do you come away from visits to other farms inspired by a tool or system that you just saw?  Have you invented things on your farm?  Can you describe some challenges on your farm that a team of farmers and engineers might be able to address with a new tool?


Engineers and Designers -

Do you have technical skills that you want to apply to the real world in real time? Are you interested in a direct relationship with the solutions our society needs? Have you considered applying your skill-set to sustainable agriculture?

Continue reading ‘Farmhack@MIT’

Choosing a mobile development platform

Smart phones, they’re everywhere. They’re fueling the end of despotic regimes, tuning up your local experience, and shooting feature-length films. There’s a school of thought that says mobiles – smartphones and feature phones – are powerful tools to tackle barriers to human well-being as well. We’ve seen many amazing projects in this spirit come through IDEAS – SanaMobile is a remote medical diagnostic tool; AssuredLabor helps trustworthy workers connect with employers; Netra reduces the cost of diagnosing refractive eye conditions; and Konbit enables employable Haitians to create audio resumes.

But we’re getting a little ahead. Our question is about getting started in smartphone application development, so we want to put it to you, developers: how do you choose the platform and development environment to work in – Windows, Android, or iOS? What are the criteria you would use? (And be honest here: if its as simple as, “I learned Java in 4th grade and have stuck with it,” or, “A sponsor gave us 5 Windows phones,” then tell us that, too!).

“Call the question” is a new series we’re experimenting with, to get insights into how innovation for development and invention and entrepreneurship as public service happens – at MIT and elsewhere. We encourage questions from the specific (how do I choose my corporation type?) to the strategic (where should I pilot an innovative water desalinization technology?). Got a question you’d like to have answered?  Send an email to question@mit.edu and we’ll consider posting it here. Either way, we’ll let you know.