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14 new startup ideas from the Babson Summer Venture Program demo day

Posted by Scott Kirsner  July 26, 2012 04:45 PM

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Babson College held its Summer Venture Program "demo day" this afternoon, showcasing 14 startup ideas that students have been working on for the last two-and-a-half months. The teams come not just from Babson, but also Olin College and Wellesley.

Here's a quick run-down, along with the four concepts I liked best.

- AUDEN - Rebecca Borenstein, Babson and Charlotte Greenough
New clothing line that wants to offer reasonably-priced "classics with a twist" for women, which can be worn at work or out on the town. Hoping to raise $150,000 to produce the first AUDEN collection.

- BEEP - Ramon Salinas, Babson
BEEP stands for Business Entrepreneurship Extension Packs. Non-profit will create extension packs for popular board games to teach business and entrepreneurship skills to kids. They're starting with — what else? — Monopoly. The extension pack for Monopoly adds stores and factories, for instance, along with new rules and new "Chance" cards.

- BYOBeats - Thomas Lavin, Babson
BYOBeats offers a unique wireless and portable surround sound system that connects sound from any media device in your home. (Description provided by Babson; company didn't present because they are in discussions with a prospective investor, I'm told.)

- - Josh Harwell, Babson is an online megastore for "pharmaceutical-grade" vitamins and supplements recommended by doctors or other healthcare providers. (The name refers to "complementary and alternative medicines.") Has generated $70,000 in sales this year. Hoping to raise $500,000.

- Expressionality - David Blutenthal, Babson
Create music playlists on Facebook and share them with friends. Expressionality shows you how much you have in common, musically, with your friends. Playlists can be imported into Spotify. Phase 2 for the service involves linking playlists to certain moods, activities, and situations. Expressionality will be free to the user, subsidized by affiliate partnerships, advertising, and sales of data about user tastes. Seeking to raise $150,000.

- HeSpoke - Njweng (Jojo) Yangni & Stella Odewumi, Wellesley College
HeSpoke is a menswear e-tailer that curates apparel for guys between the age of 20 and 30 — too old to shop at Urban Outfitters, but too edgy for Brooks Brothers. They describe their eclectic style as "Brooklyn prep," and focus on a price point between $40 and $100. (Odewumi is on the left in the picture above, and Yangni on the right.)

- MandaSeguro - Matias Sevi, Babson
MandaSeguro wants to disrupt Western Union's money transfer business, with its high fees. Fifty million Hispanics in the U.S. send over $60 billion every year to families in Latin America, Sevi says. MandaSeguro uses PayPal to send money directly to specific retail outlets, like a pharmacy or supermarket, where recipients can use it as store credit. Company has raised $120,000 in seed funding so far, and is hoping to raise $200,000 more.

- Mixcal - Andy Huang, Babson
Helps universities and student groups promote their events. Aggregates event listings on, Eventbrite, university calendars and serves up a personalized event list based on your own interests as well as what your friends are doing. Plans to sell subscriptions to the service to universities. Huang is hoping to raise a $50,000 seed round for Mixcal.

- Ninth Isle - Ronald Diep, Babson
E-commerce site focusing on Hawaiian-made products, from a native Hawaiian.

- Nomadico Travel - Nick DiMatteo, Babson
"Nomadico Travel is a socially responsible eco-friendly tour operator that specializes in customized tours to Latin America with a focus on authentic cultural interaction." (Description provided by Babson; company didn't present.)

- PhotoOil Arts - Lei Wang, Babson
Provides customized oil paintings, based on photographs, completed in 3-4 weeks. Choose from twenty different painters (some are in the U.S., but most are in China), each with a different style. Paintings start at $600.

clifflee2.jpg- - Colby Sato, Olin College
Site aims to change the coming-out experience by connecting closeted (and anonymous) students with openly-gay peers and teachers in the community, based on shared interests, religion, or ethnicity.

- SidewalkAd - Cliff Lee, Babson & Walter Dobberpuhl
Helping local businesses bring in new customers, and generate loyalty, by delivering special offers to the company's Android and iPhone mobile apps. Already live with more than 40 businesses. Hoping to raise $400,000 to "accelerate our growth in New England," Lee says. (Lee is pictured at right.)

- Taxi Right Now - Sam Garzon, Babson
Use an app on your mobile phone to call a cab. Garzon says that taxi drivers are idle 45 percent of the time, and Taxi Right Now will provide them with additional business. Unlike other taxi apps, Garzon says Taxi Right Now will send messages to drivers across several different taxi companies, as well as independent operators. The company plans to launch in August with the second-biggest taxi company in Boston, and Garzon hopes to raise $300,000 so that he can expand from Boston to three other cities.

The four ideas that I thought were most unique, have the biggest potential, and were presented the most effectively? PhotoOil Arts, Expressionality, HeSpoke, and MandaSeguro. But CAMFormulas gets a special mention for generating the most revenue while still in the Summer Venture Program.

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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