The Beantown Throwdown: Five Years of Fun Launching Student Startups

Entrepreneurs, High Technology, Innovation Posted Aug 17, 2017 by chenpr

Five years ago, in the spirit of collegial collegiate competition, CHEN PR and the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge hatched an idea to pit teams of student entrepreneurs against each other. The idea was simple: give young founders a chance to put their innovations and ambitions to the test in a live setting that could help them translate their academic knowledge into actual experience.

The schools were natural and cross-city rivals Harvard University and MIT. The Crimson on Cardinal Throwdown was born. A team from MIT, ecoVent Systems, won that inaugural contest.

School pride runs deep and word spreads quickly between campuses in this region. Before planning for the next year’s Throwdown had even begun, other schools reached out and wanted to know if student teams from their schools could participate. The response? A resounding yes!

Thus, the Beantown Throwdown was born.

From those humble beginnings, the Beantown Throwdown has become the region’s largest multi-college student entrepreneur competition, recognized as a showcase for student startups. And beginning last year, it’s a featured event during HUBweek, Boston’s week-long, city-wide festival celebrating the region’s innovation and creativity, founded by The Boston Globe, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT.

And a special shout-out to Boston Globe Innovation Economy columnist and Nantucket Conference founder Scott Kirsner.  A greatly appreciated and avid supporter of the Beantown Throwdown since its inception, Scott moderates the evening’s activities. Notably, he also runs an opening panel during which the teams get to hear insights from a range of the area’s most accomplished investors and serial entrepreneurs.

This year’s Beantown Throwdown will take place the evening of October 13 at Boston City Hall Plaza. It includes teams from Babson College, Berklee College of Music, Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Harvard University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), MIT, Northeastern University, Tufts University, UMass Boston and Wentworth Institute of Technology.

The format is simple: each team makes a three-minute pitch to the audience and is then interviewed by Scott’s panel of innovators, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists with experience founding, managing, funding and consulting startups. Once all the teams have made their case, Beantown Throwdown attendees “invest” $1 million dollars of MITEF Money in the companies that most impressed them. The three teams that secure the most funding are declared the winners and receive prizes donated by a range of organizations supporting the Boston-area’s innovation community. The biggest prize, shared by all the participants, is the lessons learned from the experience.

Previous winners and notable entries include medical accessory maker Mighty Well (formerly PICCPerfect whose founder, Emily Levy, is joining Scott’s panel this year), drug interaction database AskMolly, veteran’s services resource site DropZone For Veterans, low-cost prosthetics maker NonSpec, and therapeutic garment maker Gentoo.

Because the audience plays a critical role in the outcome, the Beantown Throwdown is a lot of fun for everyone—and sells out every year. Student teams recruit friends, family and alumni for their support, and members of the region’s technology and innovation ecosystem pack the house to see what’s next.

Registration is open, so if you want to be a part of this year’s Beantown Throwdown, don’t wait to secure your seat.

Who knows… you may help send Boston’s next unicorn on to entrepreneurial glory.