On July 13, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., DifferenceMaker hosted Demo Day. At this event, the 2021 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge Finalists presented their updated and improved ideas since advancing in the 2021 DifferenceMaker Summer Boot Camp.
Holly Lalos, Director, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, opened up the event for the evening. To start, she presented to the audience a brief overview of the DifferenceMaker program. DifferenceMaker is a campus-wide program that helps students define problems and create real-life solutions to those problems.
One of the ways this is done is during the DifferenceMaker Summer Boot Camp. The objective of the Boot Camp is to increase teams’ understanding of their customer segments, business model, revenue streams, and more. Teams are also encouraged to develop a one-year project plan with milestones and tasks for utilizing their winning funds.
Holly thanked everyone who makes DifferenceMaker possible – faculty fellows, co-op students, mentors, and advisors. The Boot Camp Advisors this year were:
- Rajia Abdelaziz, CEO of invisaWear, alumni from the Francis College of Engineering & Kennedy College of Sciences, ’16.
- Michele Holland, Co-Founder of Performance Rehab, Inc., alumni from the Zuckerburg College of Health Sciences, ’87.
- Glenn Morgan, COO of Fuseideas, alumni from the College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, ’86.
- Brian Rist, Chairman & Founder of the Rist Family Foundation and Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, alumni from the Manning School of Business, ’77.
- Brent Shell, Assistant Teaching Professor and DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellow, alumni of the University of North Texas, ’09, ’06.
Then, thank you’s for the Boot Camp Guest Speakers were also made:
- Rajia Abdelaziz, CEO of invisaWear (2016 DifferenceMaker Team), alumni from the Francis College of Engineering & Kennedy College of Sciences, ’16.
- Chris McKenna, alumni from the Francis College of Engineering, ’89, and David Kantaros, Partners of Foley and Lardner, LLP and an Idea Challenge Sponsor.
- Katie Muise, Co-Founder of Ambulatory Innovations (2019 DifferenceMaker Team), alumni of the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences.
- Jack Wilson, President Emeritus UMass System and Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, Emerging Technologies, and Innovation at UMass Lowell and an Idea Challenge Sponsor!
Next, the event opened to student team presentations! Each team had 4 minutes to present, and 5 minutes for Q&A. They pitched about their business plans, customer discovery findings, value propositions, and benefit that their products would have for society. Potential mentors asked valuable questions to the teams throughout the evening.
The teams that presented were:
Demo Day helps teams advance their progress, gain critical feedback, and network with mentors. To close out the event, David Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow, discussed mentor matching steps. Surveys for both mentors and teams were sent out shortly after the event. From the survey results, teams will be paired to the appropriate mentor(s) based on their backgrounds, skills, and interests.
Thank you to everyone that attended Demo Day and supported the students throughout the night!