The crowd gathered at the Copley Westin for the 10th Annual MITX Innovation Awards were introduced to a few of the most impactful local companies and had the chance to celebrate some truly inspiring Boston success stories. Hosted by local economist, writer, and innovator, Jodi Beggs, the event also held a few surprises.
One of the highlights of the evening was the induction of Dr. Tom Leighton of Akamai Technologies into the MITX Innovation Hall of Fame. After a video of Akamai veterans hailing the accomplishments of their CEO and co-founder, Dr. Leighton told the unbelievable-and at times tragic-story of the content delivery network.
Leighton initially made fun of Akamai’s massive role in the digital and cloud computing world contrasted with the knowledge of its existence. “I sometimes joke with our marketing department, which isn’t probably fair,” said Dr. Leighton, “that Akamai is probably the largest company on the internet that no one has ever heard of.”
He also spoke about how Akamai survived the devastating impact of the tech bubble and the tragic death of co-founder Daniel Lewin on 9/11. “Not matter what came our way, we persevered and we kept focus on solving the complexities of the web for our customers,” Dr. Leighton explained. “This spirit and focus is what enabled Akamai to survive and grow to where we are today,” he continued. “It is also what propels us to keep innovating and keep taking risks.”
The final awards of the evening celebrated some of the most promising and impactful companies in Boston today.
The “PWC Promise Award” was shared by social media inbox company Cloze and the music finding app Timbre’s parent company Intrepid Pursuits. The “Visionary Award” was given to the IBM Interactive/Boston Children’s Hospital team working on OPENPediatrics. The “People’s Choice Award,” voted on by the audience went to media hub Sookbox.
The “Best in Show” winner was Nanigans, the local Facebook ad engine.
Some other award winners:
-The first award of the night was in the “Doing Good” category. The winner was MyEnergy, the energy usage-tracking site. MyEnergy was recently acquired by Nest, the company behind the innovative Nest thermostat.
-”Best Innovation from a BootStrapped Start-Up” went to Greenbean Recycle, the company that combines social media and gaming with recycling initiatives.
-There were two B2B “Best Innovation” categories. The “External Impact” award went to the content production and marketing platform Skyword. The “Internal Impact” prize went to Ayantek.
-”Best e-Commerce Innovation” went to Smart Lunches, “Best Consumer Tech that Makes Life Easier” was awarded to Cloze, “Best Customer Demand Driver” was won by Postwire, Merchant Warehouse won “Best Digital Innovation from Large Enterprises,” and e-coupon company SavingStar won “Most Innovative Mobile App.”
-The winner in the ”Best Innovative Mobile Solution” category was Crashlytics, who were acquired by Twitter in a widely covered deal [Bostinno]. Jeff Seibert, co-founder of what is now part of Twitter Boston, received a huge response from the crowd when he described his own journey to Boston. “I moved to Boston a few years ago from Palo Alto,” he said. “I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of support in this community; its been absolutely fantastic.”
-One of the biggest surprises of the evening came in the “Best User Experience” category. True Fit ended up edging out local inbound marketing giant HubSpot as well as the Timbre app that has been widely hailed for its great UX.
-The “Most Insightful Big Data & Analytics Innovation” award went to uTest, the “Most Innovative Ad Technology” was awarded to SessionM, ByteLight/Cantina won the “Most Innovative Use of Digital in a Physical Space,” and the final award of the night was the “Most Innovative Digital Creative,” won by BoomWriter Media.
Dennis Keohane is a teacher, journalist and contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow Dennis on Twitter (@DBKeohane) by clicking here.