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August 1, 2017
Undergrads and Grads Show Entrepreneurial Spirit - Babson 2017 Summer Venture Showcase Recap

On July 27, fourteen student-led startups came together at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to show off their products at the 2017 Summer Venture Showcase. The Babson College event consisted almost entirely of Babson undergraduates and graduate students, and these were no pet projects. Every single presentation at the Summer Venture Showcase offered a real product that was either available or soon-to-be-available in some capacity. The quality of the presentations really stood out.

The event offered guests the opportunity to interact with the companies in two ways. One, they could watch all fourteen stage presentations that overview each startup. Two, guests could go to each startup’s booth before and after the presentation to talk to the founders and network.

Here are a few of the startups that really stood out to us:

DetraPel

DetraPel is a hydrophobic spray that protects anything you own from getting dirty, wet, or stained. According to the company, the liquid is non-toxic, and a single application lasts for an entire year. It’s so non-toxic in fact, that one of the presenters actually sprayed the product directly into his mouth on stage.

DetraPel's booth.

This one stands out primarily because it’s a finished product that can be purchased online today, and more than that, it works. I watched a demo of the product at DetraPel’s booth, and exactly as their presentation promised, liquid just bounced off.

Vinci

Vinci is a VR development studio that makes software for various professional applications, like training simulations and product showcases.

Founder Eagle Wu shows off Vinci's recent developments.

During a demo using an HTC Vive, we were shown how to put a piece of machinery together by hand in first-person. It was basic, but it showed off what Vinci was trying to do quite well.

Vinci is currently working with the US Army Natick Soldier Research to develop training simulations that help soldiers understand how to assemble and fix drones.

Lula

Here’s a novel idea for a ride sharing service: What if you could rent someone else’s car through an app?

That’s Lula, a peer-to-peer ride sharing service. Although it is not an entirely new idea, as services like Turo already exist, this one is specifically focused on the college market at first.

Lula looks to revolutionize ride sharing.

Instead of having other people drive you around, you can drive yourself around and pay the owner for the privilege to do so. At the same time, the owner can earn money while not using their car. Lula’s presentation covered everything from insurance to their slow rollout plan. In the immediate future, they’re going to focus the service on specific colleges like Babson before expanding over time.

WanKu

WanKu is a startup selling a centuries-old herbal beverage from Ecuador. Lauded for its taste and health benefits, it has a very fruity, tea-esque flavor.

WanKu's presentation maintains a very human element.

The highlight of WanKu’s presentation was the human angle. The Ecuadorian farmers who grow the drink’s herbs only earn $1.25 per day for their hard work – mainly because they lack the ability to reach a large audience. In addition to using this product as a means for WanKu to build a successful business of their own, the startup also sees this company as an opportunity to support the farmers who make this drink possible.

WanKu is currently using crowdfunding platform PieShell in order to fund their first production batch in the United States.

Magnomer

Magnomer is a company that aims to revolutionize recycling by adding a small magnetic label to plastic containers, in order to easily separate them during the waste process.

Magnomer plans to make recycling easier and more attractive.

By utilizing cradle-to-cradle principles, Magnomer wants to redesign plastic packages in a small, attractive way to improve recyclability of materials without changing anything for the actual consumer. This product was a standout simply because it made a strong pitch to improve the economic feasibility of recycling – without increasing consumer effort. That’s not an easy thing to do.

Every solution at the event made a compelling pitch, and these were just a few of the fourteen compelling pitches. You can check out each team here.


Alexander Culafi is a contributor at VentureFizz. You can follow him on Twitter @culafia.