Watch the recap of the 2018 Summer Accelerator
It’s a steamy Friday afternoon in early June, and the window air conditioner in the third-floor conference room in Bartlett Hall is working furiously to provide relief to the handful of students gathered around a large meeting table. The setting is unmistakably a university classroom in summer, but once Birton Cowden begins to speak, it becomes immediately clear that this is anything but a typical college course. “This is a no-B.S. space,” begins Cowden, the former* Berthiaume Center Director of New Ventures. “If something is sh*tty, we want to talk about it.”
Interim Dean Tom Moliterno announced two new directors for the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship on September 4. Gregory S. Thomas (left), a proven leader with diverse experience in corporate America, has been named the center’s new executive director. Stephen Brand (right), who has taught entrepreneurship at colleges and universities across the country, will serve as the new associate director.
Hosted each school year by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the Innovation Challenge is a series of four entrepreneurial competitions that replicates the process of developing and pitching a winning business venture. From the opening Minute Pitch event in the fall through the high-stakes Final round in the spring, teams have the opportunity to refine and improve their business plans and messaging, and to win thousands of dollars in seed money — thanks to sponsors Ernst & Young, The Heiser Family, Norman “Bud” Robertson, Kumar Ganapathy, Jeff Glassman, Darn It! and John & Sally Burke — to help make their ideas a reality.
October 25, 2017: The Minute Pitch
The venue: Amherst Room, Campus Center
The prize: $2,500, awarded to the top three teams and the audience choice
Aclarity, LLC has recently been awarded additional funding via the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) Catalyst grant program, the 2018 Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) Accelerator and the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (NSF SBIR) grant program.
On April 25, eight ventures led by current UMass students and one UMass alum were recognized at the 15th annual Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative Awards event in Holyoke, Mass. Co-founder of FogKicker, a high performance anti-fog solution, BDIC alum Marc Gammell was presented with the Grinspoon, Garvey and Young Alumni Award.
Three student-led teams won top honors at the final of the 2017-18 Innovation Challenge at the annual cross-campus entrepreneurship competition run by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at the Isenberg School of Management. The start-ups, eBiologics, Phytos Therapeutics, and Kinase, Inc., were awarded seed money of $30,000, $20,000, and $15,000, respectively, by a seven-judge panel of area business leaders.
The outpouring of female accounts of sexual misconduct in the workplace from the #MeToo movement first took hold in response to the world of Hollywood, but the problem has surfaced in almost every sphere, including the world of business. Companies that once seemed invincible have paid dearly, both in business and reputational terms—a concern for anyone with an entrepreneurial vision. Political analyst and federal anti-discrimination law expert Jennifer C. Braceras shared her knowledge on the topic in Charlie Johnson's entrepreneurship class.
Hosted by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the four-part Innovation Challenge continued with The Semifinal on Wednesday, February 28. In front of a panel of four judges, 12 student-led teams gave five-minute pitches describing their ventures and participated in a 10-minute Q&A session. The judges selected seven teams to advance to Innovation Challenge
“At the end of the day, our weight loss device is life changing,” Allurion Technologies cofounder and chief scientific officer Shantanu Gaur told students in Charlie Johnson’s Isenberg course, New Ventures. Gaur was describing his company’s Elipse intragastric balloon, which he advised, “can be placed in a lunch break without anesthesia or endoscopy.” With the [essentially] procedureless Elipse, “you lose 15 to 20% of your body weight in four months,” he said. You should view the Elipse, he added, as the centerpiece in a lifestyle strategy that emphasizes more mindful eating and exercise.
Hosted by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the four-part Innovation Challenge continued with The Seed Pitch on Wednesday, November 29. In front of a panel of three judges, 13 teams gave five-minute pitches of their venture ideas and participated in Q&A with the panel. With assistance from the sponsors, EY and Bud Robertson (Isenberg ’72), $15,000 in prize money was awarded to four ventures.
Open wide and visualize dentistry without drills, needles, and scalpels. “We’re past the initial resistance and we’ll be fully through the market inertia in a year from now,” noted Mike Cataldo, founder and CEO of Convergent Dental. The young company has developed and markets the first FDA-approved CO2 laser system (i.e, Solea) for dentistry on both hard and soft tissue. “We built the prototype, which proved we could vaporize tooth structure with lasers,” observed Cataldo, who shared entrepreneurial insights via Skype in Charlie Johnson's New Ventures class in late October.
HackUMass took over UMass’ Integrative Learning Center Nov. 3-5 for the fifth annual hack-a-thon. As a presenting partner, the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship was proud to award $1,500 in funding to outstanding ventures, as determined by Director of New Ventures Birton Cowden.
Hosted by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the four-part Innovation Challenged kicked off with The Minute Pitch on Wednesday, Oct. 25. In front of an audience of nearly 200 students, faculty, staff and supporters, 22 teams gave 60-second pitches of their venture idea. With assistance from the sponsors, EY and Bud Robertson (Isenberg ’72), $2,500 is prize money was awarded to the first-, second- and third-place teams and the audience choice selection.
Department News, Students, MBA, Undergraduate, Masters (+)
On May 25, three UMass Amherst-based startups—all recipients of advice and technical assistance from Isenberg School of Management MBA Fellows working through the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship—were among 12 monetary award recipients/graduates of the Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) Accelerator program in Springfield.
“What’s important is that you dream,” advises IBLA honoree Earl W. Stafford ’76. “Dream not only of what is possible, but of what you consider to be improbable—and go for it,” urges the Isenberg graduate. That entails “using your success to go out and help others. It is just as important to business education as accounting or finance.”
ElectroPure, a student team and developer of a water treatment/purification device for homes, schools, and other small-scale water systems, took first-place honors in the finals of the 2017 Innovation Challenge business plan competition on April 6th.
Jeff Prost-Greene ’12 is one of two Isenberg alums honored this year in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of Social Entrepreneurs. Prost-Greene is one of three founders of Up Top Acres, which owns and operates roof-top "farms" in Washington, D.C.
Robbie Bergquist '14 and his sister Brittany have been named to Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 Class for social entrepreneurship. They founded their nonprofit Cell Phone for Soldiers as teenagers and have continued to grow the company ever since.
After making a splash with her student team in November at Princeton University’s HackPrinceton hackathon, Nabanita De, a UMass Amherst master’s student in Computer Science, turned to the Isenberg-based Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship for business advice.