A company that bridges the operating room and living room by delivering specialized post-operative nursing care. A plant-based meat company in India. And, a social venture seeking to address child marriage and gender inequality in developing countries.
Ventures solving problems, making a difference across industries, and spanning the globe were the winners of the prestigious B.E.T.A. (Babson Entrepreneurial Thought & Action®) Challenge for 2021.
The winners—Michael Freyer MS’16 and oveRNight RN (alumni track), Aakash Shah MBA’21 and High Time Foods (graduate track), and Aria Mustary ’21 and Mai Soli Foundation (undergraduate track)—were announced Friday during the final day of Babson Connect: Worldwide, the premier entrepreneurial summit. More than $250,000 in cash and in-kind prizes were awarded by The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship during the announcement, recognizing the progress and potential of Babson ventures as they seek to solve problems and create impact.
Donna Levin, CEO of Babson College’s Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership, presented the grand-prize awards. Congratulating the nine finalists, Levin said, “The finalists are all demonstrating great entrepreneurial leadership as they work to solve problems around the world and create economic and social value.”
Notable in the finale pitches from all nine B.E.T.A. Challenge finalists was the focus on taking action to solve pressing problems and scale impact. And, the three winning ventures each took home a grand prize of $20,000 and prizes donated by corporate sponsors to help them do just that.
The alumni winner, Freyer shared that oveRNight RN’s post-operative care has made surgical patients feel reassured and more confident about their care.
“They really would have felt helpless and alone, and abandoned, if they hadn’t had someone that was a professional by their side,” he said.
With the $20,000 B.E.T.A. Challenge grand prize, Freyer will accelerate nurse recruitment, launch a marketing campaign, and expand to Boston and other target cities.
The oveRNight RN team is comprised of Freyer, Jennifer Contreras, Athena Furuta ‘20, Van Nguyen, and Debbie Snodgrass.
High Time Foods
Passionate about finding an alternative to meat, Shah and his co-founder, Vandana Jain, created a plant-based chicken product with their company, High Time Foods.
Not only is their product a more sustainable solution, but it also is shelf-stable and requires no refrigeration, a key differentiator and a significant benefit for restaurants in India, Shah’s target market.
Shah and Jain look forward to finishing research and development, producing an initial batch, and hiring a chief scientist, with the goal of launching this fall. “This is what I believe will be the future of food,” Shah said in his finale pitch.
The High Time Foods team also includes research and development partner Ashish Jogi.
Mai Soli Foundation
The Mai Soli Foundation team, led by Mustary, plans to double its impact and add new initiatives with its winnings from the B.E.T.A. Challenge.
Answering a question from Levin, who also was an undergraduate track judge, Mustary showed a keen understanding of the problem of child marriage, its root causes, and its nuances. “In Bangladesh, in the specific cities we are working in, the problem is financial,” Mustary said. “So, if we go into areas of Pakistan or Nigeria, the problems may not necessarily be financial.”
With this knowledge, the team plans to expand into Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, next.
The Mai Soli Foundation team is comprised of Mustary, Nipa Das, Glen Ged ’21, and Aaron Wendell ’20.
More Award Recipients
The Blank Center also awarded sidecar awards, recognizing value creation and impact:
- Sara Ferrer ’08, CEO and founder of Zoey Koko, was named the winner of the High Impact Female Founder award, sponsored by David B. Ragins ’94.
- Jayson Sterba MBA’21 and Digital Patient XP received the Health Innovation Award, sponsored by the Kerry Murphy Healey Center for Global Healthcare Entrepreneurship.
- Semifinalist Akhil Nair MBA’18 and his venture, Xena Intelligence, earned the Tech Innovation Award, sponsored by Gautam Gupta ’07.
A prize of $2,500 also was awarded to the two other finalist ventures in each of the three tracks.
The three grand-prize ventures join the ranks of former B.E.T.A. Challenge winners, which maximized the prize money to move their businesses forward and create economic and social value. Levin closed the announcement with a call to action for the winners: “We, at Babson, are excited to see how you leverage this prize and this platform to take action and make great progress.”
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