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Two Northeastern Startups Win MassChallenge Boston

October 16, 2018

The startups Boston Materials and Mobile Pixels, both started by members of the COE community, won the MassChallenge Boston. On October 17, 2018, the startup Boston Materials, which was co-founded by mechanical alums Michael Segal, E'16, and Anvesh Gurijala, E'16, along with MIE Assistant Professor Randall Erb, was selected as a gold level winner and Mobile Pixels, which was co-founded by mechanical student Stephen Ng, MS'19 along with MIT alum Jack Yao and Shruti Banda, was selected as a diamond level winner. MassChallenge Boston is a global business accelerator program for companies in the early stages of development.


Source: News @ Northeastern

Two startups founded by members of the Northeastern community received a total of $150,000 on Wednesday night from MassChallenge, a global business accelerator program for companies in the early stages of development.

Mobile Pixels, which designed a second screen that can be attached to a laptop to boost productivity, received a $100,000 award. Boston Materials, which produces strong carbon fiber composite materials that could be used to manufacture sports equipment, aircraft components, and other products to be lighter than ever but equally as durable, received a $50,000 award.

The founders of Boston Materials said that they will use the money to purchase equipment for testing the composite materials, which will cut down on the time it takes to develop the materials from months to weeks.

“Thus far we have been relying on outside resources for testing, which has long lead times and is expensive. Bringing material testing in-house will allow us to iterate at a much quicker rate and to reallocate funds to other crucial aspects of the business,” said Michael Segal, who co-founded Boston Materials with fellow Northeastern graduate Anvesh Gurijala and Northeastern professor Randall Erb.

Erb, who is an assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, developed a patented method for magnetically assembling particles that the entrepreneurs are now using to develop better composites.

Mobile Pixels and Boston Materials were two of 26 finalists in this year’s MassChallenge Boston program, which provides space, mentorship, and workshops to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Segal said that the MassChallenge program taught him and his co-founders how to identify the markets in which their materials would best fit. “We incorporated a very strategic step-by-step approach to identifying, selecting, and verifying different markets and applications, providing us a more standardized tool for assessing where we should focus our efforts,” he said.

Northeastern graduate student Stephen Ng co-founded Mobile Pixels with Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni Jack Yao and Shruti Banda to create DUO, a secondary screen for laptops that can be used to boost productivity while on-the-go.

Ng said he realized how helpful a second laptop screen would be while studying for a midterm exam in Snell Library. “I remember thinking if I had an additional monitor, with my class materials on one side and my notes on the other, I could study a lot better,” he said.


Source: News @ Northeastern

Two Northeastern startups named MassChallege Boston finalists, competing for $1.5M in cash prizes

Two startups founded by members of the Northeastern community have been named finalists in MassChallenge Boston, a global business accelerator program for companies in the early stages of development.

Boston Materials produces strong carbon fiber composite materials that could be used to manufacture sports equipment, aircraft components, and other products to be lighter than ever but equally as durable.

Mobile Pixels has designed a second screen that can be attached to a laptop, a product the company said helps users multitask and be more productive while on-the-go.

As two of the 26 finalists in this year’s MassChallenge Boston program, Boston Materials and Mobile Pixels are now competing for equity-free shares of $1.5 million in prize money. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Boston Materials is making carbon fiber composite materials
that could be used to make lightweight but durable bicycles,
hockey sticks, and wind turbines.
Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Northeastern graduates Michael Segal and Anvesh Gurijala co-founded Boston Materials with Northeastern professor Randall Erb, who developed a patented method for magnetically assembling particles that the company is now using to develop better composites.

Boston Materials takes existing carbon fiber composite fabrics, which are woven together two-dimensionally on the “x”  and “y” axes, and adds short carbon fibers to the “z” axis. Segal and his colleagues then add resin to the material in between the fibers to help them bond, a process that is similar to using mortar to bind together building blocks such as bricks and stones. Segal said reinforcing the composite materials three-dimensionally makes them stronger and less prone to peeling apart than any other materials on the market.

The company has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Catalyst program to explore how these composite materials could be used in building wind turbines. Segal said that seven companies, including bicycle and lacrosse stick manufacturers, are interested in testing the startup’s composites to see if they can improve their products.

Northeastern student Stephen Ng and MIT student Jack
Yao co-founded Mobile Pixels. The company has been
named a top 26 finalists in MassChallenge Boston, a
business accelerator program.
Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“What’s really unique about our product is we come in an industry-standard format,” Segal said. “[The manufacturers] already know how to use our material and it reduces the barrier to adoption.”

Northeastern graduate student Stephen Ng co-founded Mobile Pixels with Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni Jack Yao and Shruti Banda. They created DUO, a secondary screen for laptops that can be used to boost productivity while on-the-go.

Yao conceived the idea for DUO during an internship at Amazon, after he got frustrated that he was less productive using a laptop than he was using a dual-screen desktop. So he built a prototype of a second laptop screen, told Ng about his idea, and formed Mobile Pixels with his friend. Ng said he realized how helpful a second laptop screen would be while studying for a midterm exam in Snell Library. “I remember thinking if I had an additional monitor, with my class materials on one side and my notes on the other, I could study a lot better,” Ng said.

Boston Materials co-founders, Michael Segal, left, and
Anvesh Gurijala pose for a portrait at the Northeastern
University Innovation Campus in Burlington, Massachusetts
on Oct. 2, 2018.
Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

The second screen attaches to laptops using magnetic adhesive and slides out to the side of the laptop’s main screen. It is 12.5 inches wide diagonally, weighs less than 1-and-a-half pounds, and is powered by a USB cable that connects to the laptop.

Mobile Pixels received funding from IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run business accelerator, and MIT’s Sandbox innovation fund program. In recent months, the company has also raised over $1 million by running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter and taking pre-orders on Indiegogo InDemand. The first batch of DUOs is expected to ship to customers in January 2019. The company plans to launch its next product, which it’s keeping under wraps, in March.