Metro: "A portable nap room, Uber for nannies and other startups to compete at MassChallenge accelerator"

By Metro

· Cozykin,Press
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The Sleepbox is a private napping cabin for public places. (Provided)

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Attendees at the 2016 MassChallenge Startup Showcase, Photo: Provided by MassChallenge

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A startup at the 2016MassChallenge Showcase shows off its wearable technology. Photo: Provided by MassChallenge

Boston is already home to some of the best tech innovators and entrepreneurs in the country, and on Wednesday, more than 120 startups will gather here to show what they’ve been working on.

The MassChallenge Startup Showcase brings together for the first time the 128 startups, hailing from 16 states and 12 countries, that are participating in the MassChallenge Boston accelerator.


Kiki Mills Johnston, managing director for MassChallenge Boston, described it as the first time that the Boston community “comes together to celebrate entrepreneurs and meet this year’s most-promising startups.”


“MassChallenge provides startups with the resources and connections needed to launch, grow and create impact across industries — all for zero equity,” she said. “That means startups have access to mentorship, tailored curriculum, office space and more for free, without giving away a valuable portion of their company.”


The MassChallenge Boston accelerator is a well-respected launching pad for these companies. It’s deemed “the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet” because the startups don’t have to give up any chunks of ownership in exchange for the help, explained Johnston.


The showcase is free and open to the public, so anyone can check out the top 8 percent of applications from startups around the world — an acceptance rate about equal to the percent of students admitted to MIT and the U.S. Naval Academy, and even more intense than the rate for the Ivy League’s Brown University or Julliard.


MassChallenge has supported startups since 2010 and its more than 1,200 alumni companies have since generated about $800 million in revenue and created 65,000 jobs around the world, according to Johnston.


The Boston-based accelerator is the flagship, but MassChallenge also has accelerator programs in Israel, Mexico, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.


Following the Boston showcase, the startups will spend the next four months growing their companies here with the help of mentors, a tailored curriculum and more. At the end of the four months, the companies will compete for shares of more than $1.5 million in (equity-free) prizes at the MassChallenge awards.


The 128 startups that will be participating cover a broad range of sectors: Thirty percent of them focus on healthcare and life sciences (an area the commonwealth has specifically devoted funding and attention to); 29 percent are “high tech”; 20 percent are in retail and consumer goods; 16 percent focus on social impact; and the last 6 percent deal with clean technology and energy.


Here’s a peek at some of the startups in the running:


The sharing economy isn’t just for your home or your car rides anymore. The Massachusetts startup CozyKin brings the sharing economy to your child care by matching local families to nannies and then partnering with other families in need of care. “When you join a CozyKin nanny share, you get more than incredible nannies supported by leading baby Montessori experts,” the website says. “Your child experiences the joy of growing up with another child — their new best friend.”


KinTrans Inc.
This Texas-based startup wants to change the way we communicate with the deaf population. Their product is the “most intuitive sign language translator [on] the market,” according to the company, which plans to support 13 million deaf people in North America in the next three years by making businesses more deaf accessible. KinTrans Inc. translates sign language into voice and converts voice into text, in real time.
This nonprofit shows the “social impact” and importance of startups, even if there isn’t a lot of new tech involved. PetsEmpower focuses on helping domestic abuse survivors escape their unsafe situations while also caring for their furry friends. If a survivor is trying to leave a dangerous living situation, but can’t find a new home that is pet-friendly, PetsEmpower steps in with temporary fostering options so that they don’t have to relinquish their animal or feel compelled to stay in that abusive situation because of their pet. So far, they’ve helped survivors in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.


Vox Pop Labs
Some people don’t handle decision making well, especially when some decisions — like, say, elections — are so much more complex than others. Canadian-based startup Vox Pop Labs wants to foster civic engagement and make you a better democratic citizen by helping you make these decisions. One feature of the startup is the “Vote Compass,” which asks users a series of questions about their political views and then calculates to what percent they align with the political parties involved in an election campaign.


Do you wish you could nap anywhere, anytime? Enter Sleepbox. This Massachusetts startup provides private enclosures in an office, airport or anywhere out in the world. Though the company calls the boxes a “sleep vending machine,” the 45-square-foot containers are also ideal for work, meditation, breastfeeding and other reasons you may need an oasis while out in public.

This article was originally posted on Metro.