Client Spotlight

Finconecta, A Miami-Based Company, Selected at Milan’s Endeavor International Selection Panel

Finconecta, A Miami-Based Company, Selected at Milan’s Endeavor International Selection Panel

A marketplace for the fintech industry has been added to Endeavor Miami’s growing portfolio of Endeavor Entrepreneurs. Endeavor Miami announced today that Finconecta is now the 22nd active Endeavor Miami company, after being selected at Endeavor Global’s 80th International Selection Panel (ISP), held in Milan, Italy from June 27-29th. The company was founded in 2016 by Jorge Ruiz and Mauricio Lorenzetti.

El boliviano Jorge Ruiz fue elegido como emprendedor Endeavor

El boliviano Jorge Ruiz fue elegido como emprendedor Endeavor

CIC Client FinConecta chosen as Endeavor Miami’s 22nd company.

Finconecta, una empresa global de software empresarial que conecta y combina instituciones financieras y fintechs de todo el mundo, fundada por Jorge Ruiz y Mauricio Lorenzetti fue elegida como la 22ª compañía activa de Endeavor Miami, luego de ser seleccionada en el 80º Panel de Selección Internacional (ISP) de Endeavor Global, que se realizó en Milán-Italia, del 27 al 29 de junio.

Meet CIC Miami client: Pathwaves

Meet CIC Miami client: Pathwaves

Pathwaves are the creators of Neural Empowerment. What do they really do? They help people optimize their flow, however they define that for themselves. Said another way, they compress time and compound change by working at the intersection of neuroplasticity, neurotech and psychology.

Connect at Venture Café Mini-Conferences

Connect at Venture Café Mini-Conferences

If you’re from the Boston/Cambridge area and in the innovation community, it’s very likely that you’ve found yourself at Venture Café Kendall recently, hosted every Thursday at CIC Cambridge. These events are inarguably the preeminent networking gathering in the area. As a matter of fact, several hundred people attend each week.We’re going to highlight one of Venture Café Kendall’s rarer events, Mini-Conferences.  

CIC Takes the North Shore with Scitus Engineering

CIC Takes the North Shore with Scitus Engineering

I was introduced to the hardware side of Scitus Engineering, including their parent company CCG (Central Centerless Grinding), Mark Flanagan (CEO) and James Paolino (CTO). These two are the perfect pair: the smartest guy in science class and the best guy in shop class became best friends and great partners with Scitus when their interests crossed paths at their mutual passion for engineering. 

CIC Alum Spotlight: Daniel Faggella

For the first time, we’re not featuring a current member or client as a part of our CIC Spotlight series. We focus today on one of our alums! Daniel Faggella started one of his many ventures, Science of Skill, many years ago in C3 at CIC Cambridge, and was profiled in Forbes Magazine this past month for having successfully grown and sold that business. We sat down to ask him about what he’s been up to and to share a bit about his early days with CIC.

Client Spotlight: Capital Innovators

Westward ho! Today, we move a bit further away from CIC’s home in the Boston area. One thousand miles west, we land in St. Louis and are proud to feature our first client spotlight from CIC St. Louis!

Who are you?
Brian Dixon, COO of Capital Innovators in St. Louis

What problem are you trying to help solve?
Capital Innovators helps early-stage IT or IT supplemented companies grow their business very quickly. We provide […] seed funding [and] project-based mentorship from a seasoned pool of knowledgeable experts. Perks and benefits, and office space for the course of 12 weeks [are also offered].

Our investments come from a venture capital fund that we manage, so it provides an opportunity for investors to get in on these early stage deals and have an opportunity to receive a robust return on their investment.

How is your company changing the world?
Capital Innovators’ primary goal is to make a return for our investors, however, we have been able to fuel the growth of 70 companies, creating over 650 jobs, and helping those companies receive over $185 million in follow-on-funding. This, in turn, boosts economic develop and creates the opportunity for sustainable growth in the St. Louis region.

How does being in St. Louis affect what you do?
Building a company in St. Louis costs ~1/5 of what is costs on the coasts. Our companies can be far more capital efficient when it comes to building their business, which allows their investment dollars and revenue dollars to stretch far beyond what coastal startups can do.

What’s unique about your team’s atmosphere?
Our team thinks just like the startups that we train. […] We’re incredibly creative and always thinking outside the box to generate value to each opportunity that presents itself.

If you won a huge grant, what would your company do next?
We would invest the money back inside the business to continue on our growth trajectory. It would likely go into further developing new products and services that provide true value in our space.

What causes do you care about?
I am a board member for the St. Louis Suit Project where we provide professional business attire to deserving individuals in need. We work towards eliminating the barriers caused by financial inequality and unfortunate circumstance throughout all aspects of life.

I am also on the competition committee for Arch Grants where I help select the companies that receive $50K grants to build their startup in St. Louis. Arch Grants is doing some amazing things to help boost economic development in the region and I’m passionate about helping make St. Louis a startup mecca of the Midwest.

Who is your hero?
Although he is no longer alive, Napoleon Hill would be one of my heroes. His work and books have fundamentally changed how I approach life and I believe that his practices should be taught and implemented in every school at every grade level.

What is your biggest fear?
I believe that fear is a negative emotion that should be provided zero energy. People often make decisions based on love or fear. If you make the decisions in your life based on the former, your life becomes a much happier place and things happen for you faster.

What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is still in the works and it is building Capital Innovators into a global business that creates value in a plethora of industries.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I’m extremely fascinated with outer space and the potential for space travel to become more affordable as technology advances.

Tell us something about your experience working from CIC.
Working at CIC has been great. It provides the opportunity to work in a creative and innovative environment where a variety of minds collide.

Client Spotlight: Boston Area Science Exchange (BASE)

¡Saludos! We wanted to practice our language skills so we sat down with CIC Boston resident organization, BASE!

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Give us your elevator pitch.
BASE is a teacher-owned and teacher-run language school aiming to bridge cultural and linguistic gaps in the Boston area and beyond. We have 10+ years of experience in Boston helping people with their language skills, including translation and interpreting services.

Our strength is our focus on building and maintaining conversation skills in the target language via small-group and private courses. We weave our niche community tightly in Boston through the cultural opportunities we offer, in addition to our language courses and through the relationships we’ve cultivated with like-minded organizations in Boston.

Self-assessments are available on our website (bostonspanish.com) to decide what course you need to take.

How did the company start?
We (Lorena Calderón and Bill Spirito) moved to Boston with the initial goal of paying off Bill’s college loans, as earning Colombian pesos while paying off loans in American dollars wasn’t cutting the cake. At first Bill wanted to take a break from language teaching, having taught English and Spanish as well as training teachers in Bogotá for five years, but we almost immediately identified a void in quality Spanish-language learning opportunities in Boston, and the idea took off.

BASE teamed up with JVS Boston where BASE operated from for ten years until the surge of gentrification of Winter Street led us to the enlightened world of coworking space. We discovered CIC with the help of CIC employees who were enrolled at the time that we received our 30-days from Winter Street.

We love CIC!

Do you have a favorite translation or phrase to teach?
“Que estés bien.” Be well.

I use only Spanish from the get-go in my courses, even in the introductory ones, so I lean on synonyms and cognates heavily. When teaching students how to say “good-bye” I write “Adiós = ” on the board (I have yet to have an intro student who had never learned “Adiós” somewhere along the line), and I encourage them to go beyond using that and “Hasta la vista, baby.” By far my favorite authentic good-bye to teach students is “Que estés bien,” which is not just for Buddhists!

What was your latest company milestone?
We began offering Portuguese courses again this year, and surprisingly, in our first attempt to offer courses out of CIC Cambridge at One Broadway, we were successful! From our experience, programs need multiple course periods to take hold.

What brought you to CIC?
Adrienne Mueller, love her! She was one of the above-mentioned CIC staff who had been enrolled in a BASE course at the time we were looking for space to continue our operations. We were then introduced to the wonderful Julia Hansen who toured us around and proclaimed that CIC loves experiments, so we experimented, and so far, so good!

Client Spotlight: Technology Exchange Lab

Guest Writer: Alex Audette

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I had the chance to ask Éadaoin Ilten and Brennan Lake of Technology Exchange Lab a few questions, and learned how they’re using forward-thinking strategies to improve lives around the world.

Introduce yourselves! What do you do?

Here at Technology Exchange Lab (TEL), we believe that the fight against poverty starts with satisfying basic human needs, such as clean water, and access to energy and healthcare. We help tackle these challenges by driving the adoption of innovative, cost-effective and sustainable solutions that improve livelihoods in developing communities across world. From hand washing stations in Sierra Leone, to solar lantern distribution initiatives in India, our programs are designed from the bottom-up, in order to meet the needs and aspirations of people living at the base of the pyramid.

What brings you to CIC?

TEL was founded in 2009 by two MIT Sloan alumni who met at a local networking event. Their shared vision of poverty alleviation was inspired by their collective experience at MIT of introducing technology-based solutions to improve lives around the world. As the organization grew from an idea into a reality, settling at the CIC was a logical step to tap into Cambridge’s academic and innovation ecosystem.

Share your accomplishments! Gloat, gloat, gloat!

Over the past 7 years, we’ve carefully curated an online database of over 600 solutions to challenges related to water and sanitation, energy access, agricultural productivity, health care, and more. Every day, people turn to TEL’s online platform to discover appropriate solutions to their unique development challenges. The platform has served as an initial touchpoint for our work with incredible community based organizations working on the front lines of international development across South Asia, Latin America and the African continent. Parallel to this, we’ve built institutional partnerships with the United Nations, USAID, Siemens Stiftung and several programs at MIT.

Anything exciting on the horizon?

In spring 2017, we’ll invite the general public and CIC members alike to the TEL World House exhibition. In partnership with MIT, we are hosting a free outdoor event to showcase of some of the most compelling solutions available in the TEL database, such as solar lanterns, clean cookstoves, water purifiers, health products, and much more. Visitors will be able to demo solutions, while also meeting the inventors, development practitioners and social entrepreneurs who put the solutions to action.  

What do you like about CIC? How does the environment here impact your company philosophy?

In addition to having an unbeatable location, One Broadway has offered us a solid home base for doing business globally. As a small organization, it’s nice to host our partners and clients in such a professional, and impressive setting. What has been of most value, however, are the connections we’ve made with other CIC members, from partner organizations to world class programmers who have been inspired by TEL to help us fulfill our mission.

International development, you say! Would you like to support my “Alexit” referendum and secede from the Commonwealth with me?  

You wouldn’t be setting a precedent, since Maine “Mainxeted” from Massachusetts in 1820. While Maine has its virtues – blueberries, Stephen King, Tom from your organic tube of toothpaste – I don’t think we’ll join you in Alexiting. Since seceding, Maine has consistently underperformed the Commonwealth, macroeconomically speaking. Consider Effy, the downeast fisherwoman of the 1820s, an early icon of unemployment. Despite years of prosperity in her early life, after Maine seceded she lobster job!

Bummer. Your loss. What should I name my new nation?

I would name it after the CIC workstations “Data Motel”. Because that name totally makes sense…

Should I drive on the right- or left-hand side?

Straight down the middle.

The country’s secret password?

Fidelio.

Client Spotlight: Design Museum Boston

By Jenny Von Flatern

In Boston there are countless circles and squares, Washington Street goes on forever, and the entrance of a building on Milk Street is on Devonshire Street. It’s hard to imagine anything in Boston was “designed.” The team at Design Museum Boston shows how design can affect most anything. CIC sat down with Sam Aquillano, their Executive Director, to learn a bit more about their work.

Tell us a little about your team.

Design Museum Boston is a nonprofit, nomadic museum focused on design, launched in 2009. We’re redefining what it means to be a museum in the 21st century — we’re online, nomadic, and accessible to all through a network of exhibitions, events, and content. Our mission: Bring the transformative power of design to everyone, everywhere to ensure a world full of creative problem solvers. Design is everywhere. So are we!

We believe design can change the world. Done well, it can elevate our quality of life, make businesses more competitive, and protect our environment. Design awareness, education, and expertise are more important now than ever before as design continues to impact communities, organizations, and markets around the world.

How did you get into of non-profit, nomadic museums?

I started my career in product design working at Bose Corporation and then teaching design at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Wentworth Institute of Technology. I was also the Boston Chapter Chair for the Industrial Designers Society of America. In all my work I was talking about design to other designers — but design is part of everything and no one was creating a broad public conversation about design nor promoting the power of creative problem solving.

Together with our founding team including my best friend, Derek Cascio, his girlfriend Jenna Casey, and my brother Steve Aquillano we started the museum with the intent of raising money, finding a space, and creating a traditional museum for design. But that was 2008/2009 — not the best time to create a new nonprofit museum. So we had to think differently and ultimately decided we didn’t need our own space — we could be a nomadic museum and pop-up all over the city. So instead of a single space, we turn the museum inside out and make the entire city the museum, and in the process we make it a more vibrant place to live, work, and play.

What was your biggest learning opportunity? What’s been your biggest milestone? What’s next?!

I came into the nonprofit sector as an entrepreneur, but basically knew nothing about running a nonprofit. But I believe in education and learning. Over 6 years I’ve learned a lot thanks to an amazing group of mentors and supporters. I think the biggest things I’ve learned are how to work with board members, how to monetize what we do, and how to run a nonprofit like a business. Next up: figure out how to scale to every major city in the U.S. We currently have branches in Boston, Portland OR, and San Francisco, but we have a lot to learn. I take a design thinking approach to everything, we try things, we iterate, we learn, and we optimize — over and over and over.

What brought you to CIC?

I came to CIC through my good friend, Stas Gayshan. I first met Stas through his work at Space With A Soul — a coworking space that was very friendly to budding nonprofits. The museum was growing back in 2011 and we needed a real place to work that wasn’t my living room. I met Stas, heard his vision for Space With A Soul and I was hooked. We worked there for a few years until the team outgrew our space. Between then and now we’ve bounced between a few spaces and never quite captured that same innovative spirit and community that we had when we worked in Stas’ space. Recently Stas gave me a tour of CIC Boston and I remember thinking, wow, this has all the love, community, and resources that a growing nonprofit like Design Museum Boston needs. I was hooked again!

What do you like about CIC and how do you think being in a space like ours impacts you?

I am so impressed with the CIC team’s ability to develop workspaces with a detailed approach that takes into account many different working styles. It’s clear to me that the CIC team cares deeply about the people that work here, and they’re constantly iterating and trying new things to constantly improve. The resources and spaces are top notch and I love the community elements. Being surrounded by other crazy entrepreneurs helps me feel like less of a crazy entrepreneur and more like a strategic entrepreneur.

Tell us a fun fact about yourselves!

When Derek and I first developed our vision for the museum — we were in a meeting at MassArt, where we had ordered pizza to eat while we brainstormed. We drew our vision for the museum on the back of the pizza box — and I still have it! I really need to frame it and hang it in the office — someday!