Brandeis’ WorkAround Wins Best Student Startup at Massachusetts’ Largest Multi-School Pitch-Off

MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Posted 10.16.17

MCPHS’ Hear Me Now and MIT’s Infinite Cooling earn second and third place honors at the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Beantown Throwdown hosted by HUBweek

Katja Wald, executive director of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge, presents the Beantown Throwdown trophy to the 2017 winner, Wafaa Arbash, WorkAround founder and CEO

CAMBRIDGE, MA–(Marketwired – Oct 16, 2017) –  WorkAround from Brandeis University — and its online platform matching U.S. companies in need of microwork with refugees — bested a field of 12 student-run startups to take first place in the 5th Annual Beantown Throwdown. In addition to bragging rights, honors include thousands of dollars’ worth of legal and marketing communications services and a guaranteed spot at MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) of Cambridge‘s annual Startup Spotlight, set for June 2018.Held Friday night in the HUBweek Dome on City Hall Plaza, the hotly contested pitch-off attracted a standing-room-only audience of investors, serial entrepreneurs, business leaders, media, college and university faculty and other influencers who make Boston’s innovation ecosystem among the most respected in the world.

Once pitches were complete, audience members served as venture investors for the night. Armed with millions of dollars in MITEFMoney, the crowd determined the winning teams by “investing” in the startups that impressed them the most. The teams securing the largest investments earned the top three spots.

Hear Me Now from MCPHS finished as runner-up for its real-time app for translating text into American Sign Language using motion detection technology. Third place went to MIT’s Infinite Cooling for its product that captures and recycles otherwise lost water vapor from power plants.

The evening kicked off with a fireside chat about entrepreneurship moderated by Boston Globe Innovation Economy columnist Scott Kirsner. His panel of luminaries included: Woody Benson, Launch Capital venture partner; Dave Balter, Mylestone CEO; and 2015 Beantown Throwdown winner, Emily Levy, CEO & co-founder of Mighty Well.

In addition to the winners, competing schools and startups were:

  • Babson College, VINCI: Leverages virtual reality to tackle communication barriers – starting with training and product marketing.
  • Berklee College of Music, Synchronize: Aims to align the listening experiences of media played on different machines.
  • Boston College, Mental Rep: A software application that revolutionizes the way football teams and athletes practice.
  • Boston University, EarlierCare: A health-tech platform leveraging machine-learning and personalization to address the $11 billion lost to dental appointment cancellations.
  • Harvard University, Coding it Forward: A student-led non-profit inspiring people to use their technology skills for social good.
  • Northeastern University, Unsize: A smart measuring device and web app that improves the online clothes-buying process.
  • Tufts University, PowerPlay Technologies: A revolutionary Smart Playground Company fusing educational play with smart city infrastructure.
  • UMass Boston, Dumpster Market: A web-based marketplace through which roll-off dumpster rental companies compete for business with contractors and consumers.
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology, FinderDrone: An adaptable, multi-platform emergency response drone featuring thermal imaging and emergency payload deployment.


“Congratulations to WorkAround for wowing the audience with its platform to fill a growing need for U.S.-based companies by empowering refugees with remote employment,” said Katja Wald, Executive Director, MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge. “We love showcasing students’ creative solutions at the Beantown Throwdown. The teams benefit from the exposure and by meeting other young entrepreneurs. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event.”

The winning teams will receive prize packages from Beantown Throwdown sponsors Morse Barnes-Brown & PendletonCHEN PR, and MITEF of Cambridge.

About The MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge
The MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge is the founding chapter and one of 25 worldwide chapters comprising the MIT Enterprise Forum, Inc. Offering more than 40 programs and events annually that inspire innovation, MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge initiatives facilitate critical one-on-one mentoring while providing team services that increase the skills and expertise necessary for entrepreneurs to succeed.

About HUBweek
HUBweek is a festival for the future that explores innovation at the intersections of art, science and technology. Founded by The Boston Globe, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and MIT, HUBweek is a first-of-its-kind civic collaboration that brings together the most creative and inventive minds in making an impact in Boston and around the world. In the past two years, together with over 150 organizations and institutions, HUBweek has hosted more than 250 events, attracting approximately 20,000 registered attendees each year from 49 countries and 40 states.


    Carro Halpin
    CHEN PR for MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge
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