#5 Lauren Rathmell: Co-Founder Lufa Farms

Lufa Farms began in Montreal, Quebec and now has offices in Boston as well. Their vision is a city of rooftop farms. They are trying to figure out how to grow food where people live and grow it more sustainably. Today, fifty percent of people live in cities. Lauren Rathmell is the Greenhouse Director and Co-Founder of Lufa Farms. Lufafarms.com/en

What are you creating? 

A local food engine, comprised of a platform and technologies for rooftop farming and direct-to-consumer distribution of fresh, local vegetables and goods from other farms and food makers 

How do you want to change the world? 

Grow food closer to where people live and grow it more sustainably, in an effective and scalable platform. We want to reconnect individuals with the people who make their food. 

What makes you think you’re onto something? 

There's an inherent problem with our current food production and distribution systems; lack of transparency and traceability, safety concerns, sustainability issues, and global food security are all becoming increasingly critical. There are many ways this needs to and can be addressed, but high-yield and responsible urban agriculture is certainly a component. Most of all, the impact we've had in Montreal makes us think we're definitely on to something. We've made it to over 5000 weekly subscribers, largely through word of mouth, and have gotten really amazing feedback so far.

How do you push through when things get tough? 

Make sure I have time to disconnect. Work hard but take breaks and separate from things for a while to re-boot. Encourage the team to do the same.

What quality do you most like in a startup? 

Leanness. It's always impressive when a company sticks with a small team that works hard and strives for efficiency while forging ahead, no matter the industry.

What quality do you most despise in a startup? 

Fluff and inefficiency: there's no need to grow a team and spend loads if you can't maximize capacity. Most people and many industries don't operate in a way that considers efficiencies.

What talent would you like to have? 

Plant whisperer. (I'm working on it...) 

If your startup/work were a movie which would it be? 

Ocean's Eleven. Whenever we undertake new projects, we always pull together a crack team of engineers, software developers, plant scientists, marketers, and team leaders to pull it off in a daring way.

 

#4 Robotics StartUp: Myomo's Steve Kelly

Steve kelly.jpg

Our LIVE interview Steve Kelly is President and COO of Myomo Inc. is Thursday, December 18th at 6pm @VentureCafe.

Myomo's  mission is to improve mobility and restore independence for individuals who suffer from debilitating muscle weakness due to conditions such as stroke and other neuro-muscular conditions. 

What are you creating?

The opportunity for people with paralyzed arms to pull up their pants and get on with their lives

How do you want to change the world?

We want to restore the ability for people to move their arms again.

What makes you think you’re onto something?

The hand and arm are an extension of the brain in so much of what we do in life, we aim to restore that connection.

How do you push through when things get tough?

A judicious mix of running, swimming, red wine, and sound advice from people who care

What quality do you most like in an investor?

Pattern matching.  Investors have the macro view, entrepreneurs have the micro.  Investors can look across a wide swath of market segments and connect dots.

What quality do you most despise in an investor?

Arrogance.  The price paid of arrogance is blindness.

What is your idea of happiness?

Working with smart people (with a sense of humor) to make a difference

If your start up were a movie which would it be?

The Memphis Belle

@MyoPro1

www.myomo.com

#3 Digital Accessories Designer: Savannah Lyn Niles

Savannah Lyn Niles is a graduate student in the MIT Media Lab.

What are you creating?

Media-responsive objects and wearables: objects that connect us to the information and media we care about, integrated into our environments and onto our bodies in calm, meaningful ways.

How do you want to change the world?

By designing objects and interfaces that quietly imbue our environments and our peripheries with high-bandwidth, low-cognitive load information streams

What makes you think you’re onto something?

Digital information is already ubiquitous: most people I know— myself included— don't go a waking minute without looking at a back-lit screen. So many pixelated surfaces in my environment are constantly vying for our attention. But the future doesn’t have to look like Times Square everywhere. Technology can be quiet, connecting us to and enriching real contexts and environments, rather than distracting us from them.

How do you push through when things get tough?

When I don’t know where to begin on a problem, I dread even getting started. I’m the queen of "procrastiworking” (“I’ll reorganize Evernote!” “I’ll refactor code that works fine!” etc.). So to avoid that trap, I break things down into tasks I know I can complete. Telling myself “just do 30 minutes of work, and then take a break” often leads to 90 minutes of work, and reduces the problem space down to subsets I then feel I can tackle. 

What quality do you most like in a startup?

Rapid prototyping and iteration of ideas. Demo or die. 

What quality do you most despise in a startup?

Lack of diversity, and a lack of initiative to seek out talent from under-represented groups in technology.

What talent would you like to have?

I’d like to learn how to cook better!

If your startup/work were a movie which would it be?

My Neighbor Totoro. I imagine a world where technology occupies our homes like quiet, friendly spirits. 

#2 Knitting StartUp: Handmade by M - Monika Ramizi

Portrait by J.DiStazio

Portrait by J.DiStazio

Monika Ramizi - Style and Fashion Entrepreneur 

What are you creating? 

A unique line of knitwear designs that are inspired by my childhood memories growing up with my grandmothers. 

How do you want to change the world?

With my passion for knitting, I'm trying to bring an element of old traditions from my family and my community to modern life. In this high tech era, it's important to find a balance with something like this. It's important to keep tradition alive in these times of high speed everything. 

 

Portrait by J.DiStazio

Portrait by J.DiStazio

What makes you think you are onto something?

The reactions that I get from people that have seen or own a piece of this collection. I think there is a strong desire for handmade goods in the market right now. 

How do you push through when things get tough?

I'm organized and efficient by nature, and a little bit of control freak, so I don't allow things to get out of hand. And when I don't have control of a situation, I let things play the course. Always keep your main goal in mind and work hard for it. That seems to work when waters are rough. 

Portrait by J.DiStazio

Portrait by J.DiStazio

What quality do you most like in an investor?

Honesty and hard work 

What quality do you dislike in an investor?

Not being able to communicate 

What talent would you like to have? 

I wish I could sing! 

If your start up were a movie, which would it be?

It would have to be The Wizard of Oz. It is all about determination with a focus on courage, ups and downs, and keeping an eye on your goal. Lively, pretty, magical and success at the end.

www.monikaramizi.com

handmadebymknit@gmail.com 

#1 Angel Investor Maia Heymann

Maia Heymann is Managing Director of Common Angels

SPOTLIGHT:

What are you creating?

A different model for angel & venture capital investing

How do you want to change the world?

Support the rebels, support the entrepreneurs---they're changing the world.  

What makes you think you’re onto something?

The exceptional entrepreneurs I have the privilege of backing

How do you push through when things get tough?

Head-down and shut-up

What quality do you most like in a startup?

Team

What quality do you most despise in a startup?

Hubris

What talent would you like to have?

Clairvoyance

If your startup/work were a movie which would it be?

Unwritten.  Something with a rebel