$100k New Ventures Competition 2020 Finalists: Social Impact
TravelEZ - 1st place
Team Members: Garrett Weinstein (A18)
Description: TravelEZ can be thought of as the ‘TripAdvisor of accessibility.’ For tens of millions of Americans with mobility limitations, finding accessible venues and experiences ranges from challenging to impossible. TravelEZ solves this by crowdsourcing, collecting and organizing accessibility information. Garrett Weinstein founded TravelEZ in 2019 because of experiences with his grandmother. TravelEZ will launch in Boston this summer, and will then be looking to raise an angel round to expand to NYC and other major US cities.
FoodEase - Tied for 2nd place
Team Members: Christina Holman (EG20), Earn Khunpinit (EG20), Lee Ann Song (EG20), Ashton Stephens (EG20), and Sai Wang (EG20)
Description: In 2018, 68M people were affected by a natural disaster. With global climate change, there is an increasing need for communities, NGOs, and governments to prepare and develop coordinated responses to enable efficient and effective intervention. FoodEase empowers local communities to proactively plan and make food delivery easier in a crisis. Unlike centrally-planned humanitarian systems, FoodEase uses GIS, real-time reporting, and machine learning to optimize route options between various transportation, food, and water resources. As a neutral data provider and logistics coordinator, FoodEase facilitates transparent communication and analyzes complex data that is often difficult to collect at large scales.
Potencia - Tied for 2nd place & recipient of Cummings Properties rent credit
Team Members: Amanda Wang (EG19), Jun Hyung Yoon (EG19)
Description: Language is essential to survival and employment. However, one in ten US working population is considered limited in English skills. Although there are already some English learning services, these current programs are too overloaded to handle more learners at this stage, let alone handle the current demand. At Potencia, we believe that human connections in the community are the key to tackling social challenges. Potencia leverages the power of community engagement to offer accessible, affordable, and effective English services for refugees and immigrants.
Team Members: Nitin Malik (F20), Mohit Saini (F21)
Description: Resonance Lab is a solar energy start-up focused to provide access to clean, reliable and affordable energy to rural people in India. It offers an innovative solar panel bundled with a home kit at the doorstep of the customers. The panel is more portable and efficient than traditional alternatives. The home kit includes a variety of products including television and water purifier. It plans to target an addressable market of 20 million rural customers in four power-deprived states in India over the next five years. Resonance Lab is the winner of the Fletcher D-prize Poverty Solutions Venture Competition 2020. It received a seed capital of $13,000 to launch its pilot this year.
Sacramento Valley Food Hub
Team Members: Brennan Havens, Erin Havens, Emily Moschowits (F20), Cyrena Thibodeau (F20), Jacob Weiss (F20)
Description: The Sacramento Valley Food Hub organizes and connects anchor institutions, restaurants, food entrepreneurs and underserved communities with healthy, local produce from small and beginning sustainable farmers.
Textbook Exchange Network
Team Members: Kevin Bae (A20), Philip Miller (A20), Emerson Wenzel (A20)
Description: The Textbook Exchange Network’s (TEN) mission is to make learning materials more affordable. To achieve this, TEN empowers students by providing the tools to build student-to-student textbook exchanges on campuses. These exchanges facilitate direct transactions between student buyers and sellers, and cut out middlemen who seek to profit off of students. By making these purchases easy, convenient, and safe, TEN helps students get access to the tools they need to complete their education.
Steve McDermid is a Managing Director with Emerson Collective where he leads Emerson Collective’s venture capital efforts. Steve was previously a Partner with Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, CA. Prior to Andreessen Horowitz, Steve was a Director with Thomas Weisel Partners, a technology-focused investment bank in San Francisco. Steve began his career at Citigroup as an investment banking analyst. Steve graduated from Tufts University with degrees in Quantitative Economics and Computer Science. Steve also earned a MALD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Lisa Tanzer is the President of Life is Good, a lifestyle apparel brand dedicated to spreading the power of optimism. Lisa is an expert on the integrated for-profit/non-profit business model and is passionate about showing businesses how they can use their spending power and influence to do good in the world. From The Gillette Company, Hasbro, and Staples, to various start-ups in children’s entertainment, she now leads the for-profit side of Life is Good where she is responsible for growing the business while delivering the simple, yet powerful message of optimism. Lisa is a widely sought-after motivational keynote speaker and mentor who believes that relationships are the key to personal, professional, and business growth.
Omer Trajman is a business executive with deep technology experience. Omer has spent the past twenty years on the front lines, leading teams responsible for some of today’s largest modern database and operations systems management deployments. Combining a background in Computer Engineering with a passion for customer success, Omer has an innate understanding of what it takes to make customers successful with new technologies. Most recently, Omer founded AskFora, a way to find people you know for work you need done. Prior to AskFora, Omer co-founded and served as CEO of Rocana, up to its sale to Splunk. Rocana developed high scale software aimed at simplifying and speeding up how operations teams running large data centers and cloud infrastructure track and fix issues across their systems.
Orlando C. Watkins
Orlando C. Watkins is Vice President for Programs at the Boston Foundation, where he oversees a discretionary grants fund of roughly $16 million and leads a Program Department staff of two dozen people. Orlando has over 20 years of experience developing and strengthening educational and community-based organizations. Previously, he has held roles as Executive Vice President at Match Education, Senior Director at the Boston Foundation, and Chief Development Officer for BELL. Prior to BELL, he spent several years as Vice President of Programs for the Greater New Orleans Foundation, including the years immediately following Hurricane Katrina. Orlando’s career has also included significant leadership roles in government and in higher education including a Governor Appointment as Executive Director of the Louisiana Serve Commission. Orlando started his career as a social entrepreneur in Atlanta, GA where he co-founded FreeForm Academy, a private school for young children and served as founding Director of the NASA-funded Inspiring Careers in Engineering Mathematics and Science at Morehouse College. Orlando currently serves on several boards including Horizons for Homeless Children, Camp Harborview, and MATCH Education. Orlando is a graduate of Morehouse College and a recipient of the prestigious Echoing Green fellowship.