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$225,000 Grand Prize will be Awarded in April by the MIT Clean Energy Prize

The MIT Clean Energy Prize will be kicked off on Friday, December 13th at the offices of Mintz Levin in Boston, giving applicants two months to prepare their submissions before the February 13, 2014 deadline for this year’s competition. 2011 Participant Leslie Dewan of Transatomic Power will share how the CEP put her on the road to $1 million in funding and the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

This year’s Grand Prize winning team will win $225,000, and winners in each of three tracks, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, and Infrastructure & Resources, will win $25,000. The awards will be announced at a Showcase event on April 28, 2014.

This will be the seventh year of the MIT Clean Energy Prize, a student-run business plan competition that catalyzes a new generation of clean energy solutions to meet the world’s energy challenge and coaches students as they become entrepreneurs.

The contest, co-sponsored by Massachusetts utility NSTAR and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is open to teams from any U.S. university. Past participants have gone on to raise a total of $209 million in funding.

Grand Prize winners have included FloDesign Wind Turbine (recently re-named Ogin), C3Nano, and CoolChip Technologies. Track winners have included OsComp Systems, currently implementing its virtual pipeline technology in Maine, and Transatomic Power, who have since secured a $1 million seed round of funding to further develop their waste burning nuclear reactor.



Big Data - Investments, Trends, and Predictions

By Liron Zighelnic, MBA 2015

Big data companies raised a stunning $1.3 billion in the first half of 2013, echoing a trend of VC firms taking large positions in Big Data startups. Five billion dollars of funding were raised over the last five years with a clear increase year-over-year. IDC predicts that the Big Data market will grow 30% annually over the next few years, continuing this trend.

Some of the most notable Big Data fundraises include Cloudera which raised $65M in round E, Couchbase which raise $25M series D this August, and 10gen (better known as the company behind MongoDB) which raised an impressive round of $150M this October and almost $225M in the past three years.

Start-ups are attacking all domains and layers of the industry including infrastructure (e.g., MapR, Hortonworks), analytics and visualization (e.g., Tableau, and applications (e.g., Splunk, BlueKai, BillGuard).

 Big Data exit activity is gaining momentum with more than 22 M&A transactions and 3 IPOs within the first six month of 2013 alone. Among these are Tableau which had an IPO in May and Splunk which has seen its market cap jump to $7B these days.

Our expert VC panel will discuss their thoughts on Big Data trends and provide perspective on the criteria they use when identifying and evaluating investment opportunities. The panel will also provide perspective on the major changes anticipated in the Big Data domain and how the market may evolve over the next decade.

Our panel participants are:



VC and Entrepreneurs : Blurred Lines

The VCPE and E&I clubs at Sloan are proud to join forces to create a panel to discuss the relationship between an entrepreneur and a VC.

In the last few years more and more VCs are staffed with ex-entrepreneurs to decide on investments and some are even hiring entrepreneurs to develop a start-up within the VC. It makes the relationship and balance of powers between VCs and the entrepreneurs as even more intriguing :

  • What kind of influence the VC should be given?
  • How much money to invest?
  • What do VCs look for in an entrepreneur?

Those kind of questions will get answered under the diversified panel made of VCs and entrepreneurs :



Introducing the Energy Panel !

By Aswin Andrison (MBA2014)

On the backdrop of declining VC investments, greentechmedia recently pointed out that corporations are filling the gap by aggressively moving into cleantech to deploy VC-backed innovation. “Recent trends show that while early-stage venture capital ebbed after a surge in experimentation, later-stage investments have increased in the last five years.”

The MIT VC Conference team is proud to announce the Energy Panel, put together to address this very question “Can VCs promote game-changing energy technologies?”

To answer the question, we will have:

  • Steve Crane, CEO of LightSail Energy
  • Brendan McCord, Senior Associate, Lux Capital Management
  • Dhiraj Malkani, Partner, RockPort Capital Partners
  • Angelique Mercurio, Founder, Energy Forum Solution
  • Matthew Nordan, Vice-President, Venrock

Don’t miss out and secure your ticket NOW!



Are female entrepreneurs gaining traction in the venture capital space?

A September 11, 2013 article by Inc. highlights recent data from Pitchbook, a private equity and venture capital database service. The article noted 13% of venture capital funds going to companies with female founders in 2013. This is great news after years of single-digit success for female entrepreneurs getting their hands on venture funds and an improvement over 2012. Sectors that appear to be hot for women are retail and consumer services, while software and commercial services were sectors where women struggle to secure funding. We will be sure to explore why female entrepreneurs may or may not being gaining traction with venture capitalists in particular sectors at our upcoming Women in Venture Capital Panel on December 13th, 2013.  

Check it out



Gradeable: Where are they now?


Turn the clocks back to last year’s VC Conference, Gradeable was a two-person operation just cranking out their minimum viable product. Gradeable’s CEO and MIT Sloan graduate, Parul Singh, came to the 2012 Startup Showdown armed with a vision to make teachers more effective by providing simple tools to assess classroom learning. She left with the top Showdown prize and key connections that would influence Gradeable’s path over the next year.

Flash forward to today, Gradeable nailed down their core product, completed the LearnLaunchX accelerator in Boston, was nominated as a MassTLC EdTech Finalist, and partnered with Innovate NYC Schools on a pilot program. Of course 99% of the credit for this awesome list of accomplishments goes to Parul and her team, but as is always the case, mentors also played an important role in Gradeable’s direction. 

Marc Ecko attended last year’s VC Conference in the role of a Startup Showdown judge. After hearing Parul pitch Gradeable on-stage, Marc took an opportunity during a conference break to find out more about Parul’s passion to change education. A new mentor connection was made. Parul and Marc stayed in touch over the next six months and Marc eventually convinced her to apply for the Innovate NYC Schools program.  

Luckily Parul took Marc’s advice and Innovate NYC Schools selected Gradeable as a partner. Parul and her team are now piloting their Gradeable product with an NYC school for the full 2013-2014 school year. While we wait to see the sure-to-be awesome results of the Gradeable pilot, Parul has just one request for you: “If you know a teacher and want to make their life better, tell them about Gradeable”.

Come to this years VC Conference and our Startup Showdown to meet this year’s Gradeable!

Panel : Women in VC

The Sloan Women in Management (SWIM) club is getting excited for the upcoming Women in Venture Capital Panel at the 16th Annual MIT Venture Capital Conference. We have four prominent women in the venture capital space lined up to speak about what trends they see gaining momentum in the market and how these investment opportunities can be capitalized on. In addition, our panel will explore how females perceive risk differently and why or why not funding a female entrepreneur may bring to light different issues. This is an excellent opportunity to hear first-hand how the venture capital space has evolved from a female perspective and what mechanisms the sector could put in place to encourage more women to join and stay actively engaged.

Panelists and Moderator Information:

  • Jennifer Jordan at Mass Ventures
  • Maia Heymann at CommonAngels
  • Nicole Strata at Boston Seeds
  • Megan Quinn at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
  • Moderator: MIT Sloan Professor Shari Loessberg, Senior Lecturer, Technology Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management

Have specific questions for the panel? Email and we will incorporate your topics into the panel discussion. 



Welcoming Maia Heymann

We are excited to share with you that Maia D. Heymann, Senior Managing Director, CommonAngels will be joining us this year as a Speaker in the Women in VC panel.


Maia has worked with dozens of start-ups and growth companies, in Boston and Palo Alto, throughout her 20+ year career as an angel investor, venture capitalist, and tech banker. She has made equity investments, personally as an angel, and professionally as a VC, in over 40 technology companies. In 2012 Maia was named by Xconomy as a top angel investor in New England. Maia has also been a manager of an institutional limited partner committing capital to venture capital and private equity funds. She worked for Shott Capital Management, Bank of America, BancBoston Ventures, BancBoston Robertson Stephens, and Bank of Boston.

Maia joined the Manager in a full-time, leadership role after having been a CommonAngels Investor since 2006, a Board member since 2009, and the Manager’s Chairman from 2010-2011. Most recently, Maia was a Managing Director at Shott Capital Management, a $2.7Bn discretionary, separate accounts manager, where she was responsible for VC and PE fund selection and portfolio management, and was an advisory board member for 6 PE or VC funds. Prior to joining Shott, Maia held several senior positions at the banks that ultimately became Bank of America.

From 1999 to 2008, Maia was a Managing Director at BancBoston Ventures, which became part of Bank of America in 2004. Maia joined BancBoston Ventures in 1999, opened the Palo Alto, CA office, and developed the investment strategy. From 1999 to 2002, she built the team and venture portfolio. Some of Maia’s venture capital investments included: OnDisplay (IPO, then acquired by Vignette); Versata (IPO, then acquired by Trilogy); Docent (IPO); Centric Software, Preview Systems (IPO); MarketAxess (IPO); (via (IPO); IMX, Inc.; Impresse; and Inventa.

In 2002 Maia moved back from Palo Alto to Boston and eventually headed BancBoston Ventures within Bank of America’s Global Private Equity Group, having been chosen to manage a diverse $330 million portfolio of venture and private equity investments. She led a team of investment professionals, assumed numerous board and observer seats, and developed and executed exit strategies. Maia was a board member of Inventa, Enigma, NetKey, Watchfire and WebCT, and a board observer of Arbinet-TheExchange, BuyerZone, Centric Software, InQuira, Iowa Telecom among others.

In 2006 Maia formed DeVere Management Group to make personal, angel investments in private companies. In connection with her investments she sits on the boards of Apperian, (representing CommonAngels), Fiksu, and Wymsee. Her portfolio of personal investments includes over 24 companies.

From 1993 to 1998, Maia was with BancBoston Robertson Stephens and with Bank of Boston in Palo Alto, CA. She originated and structured corporate finance transactions for public and private technology companies. She also worked closely with 4 private equity firms to underwrite senior and sub-debt for LBOs in the technology industry, and made several equity co-investments alongside the PE sponsors. From 1989 to 1991, Maia worked in the Audit department of Bank of Boston Corporation where she led risk-assessments in multiple businesses in numerous domestic and international locations. In 1992 she completed the Loan Officer Development Program, and in 1993 moved to Palo Alto to join the High Tech Division of Bank of Boston.

Maia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wellesley College and was elected into Phi Beta Kappa

Follow Maia on Twitter @MaiaHeymann.



Welcoming Josh Kopelman

We are excited to share with you that Josh Kopelman will be joining us this year as a Keynote Speaker.


Josh has been an active entrepreneur and investor in the Internet industry since its commercialization.

In 1992, while he was a student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Josh co-founded Infonautics Corporation – and took it public on the NASDAQ stock exchange in 1996. Josh founded in July of 1999, and led it to become one of the largest sellers of used books, movies and music in the world. was acquired by eBay in July 2000 — and Josh remained with eBay for three years, running the business unit and growing eBay’s Media marketplace to almost half a billion dollars in annual gross merchandise sales. In late 2003 Josh helped to found TurnTide, an anti-spam company that created the world’s first anti-spam router. TurnTide was acquired by Symantec just six months later.

Josh founded First Round Capital in 2004 to reinvent seed-stage investing. And since that time the firm has invested in over 200 emerging technology startups – becoming one of the most active venture capital firms in the country. Josh was ranked 12th on Forbes 2013 “Midas List” of the top 100 tech investors. Josh has been named as one of the top ten ‘angel investors’ in the United States by Newsweek magazine, one of “Tech’s New Kingmakers” by Business 2.0 magazineand a “Rising VC Star” by Fortune magazine. Josh also is the proud winner of a second place ribbon in the 2011 Nantucket Watermelon Eating competition.

Josh is an inventor on thirteen U.S. Patents for his work in Internet technology. In June 2000, he was awarded Ernst and Young’s prestigious “Entrepreneur of the Year” award for the Greater Philadelphia region.

Josh earned a Bachelor of Science degree cum laude in Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Follow Josh on his blog,, and on Twitter @joshk.



Ray Rothrock visiting MIT Sloan Energy Venture entrepreneurs

By Aswin Andrison (MBA2014)

Venture funding is an important factor to successfully launch a business and bringing it to scale. This is no different to a group of aspiring energy entrepreneurs participating in this year’s MIT Energy Venture  class (15.386). As many as seven entrepreneur teams equipped with top-notch business, policy and technology know-how from MIT and Harvard are working to commercialise technologies, including local warming, microgrids, biomass pellets, flexible water quality monitoring, and so-on.

The participants were very excited with the visit of Ray Rothrock, senior partner at Venrock, a pioneering venture capital firm built on the success of the Rockefeller family. With 30-year experience in evaluating and funding energy ventures, Ray emphasised the differences of energy ventures and what the groups should aspire to be in order to hit the ground running, not just through technology breakthroughs, but also through innovative business models.

Ray’s visit in the Energy Venture class is an example of how venture capitalists can create value by advising wannabe entrepreneurs with down-to-earth wisdom. If you are working on an energy venture, don’t forget to make the most of the opportunity to pitch at the VC Conference where many more VCs will be present. No doubt, this will be an excellent opportunity to test your idea and a strong platform to fund your business should you decide to pursue it.