By Erin Wade
BU News Service
Boston’s HUBweek held Demo Day at Hynes Convention Center on Friday, showcasing more than 100 of the city’s companies and startups and hosting the Babson Breakaway Challenge, which awarded $250,000 in venture capital funding to Mighty Well, one of five women-led businesses in the running for the prize.
“The Babson Breakaway Challenge is the first and only competition to promote gender parity in the [venture capital] industry,” said Susan Duffy, executive director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College. The Babson Breakaway Challenge was hosted Friday afternoon by Babson College’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership and Breakaway, a venture capital firm.
During the challenge, the competing startups went head-to-head, pitching their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists in the hopes of winning the $250,000 prize.
Mighty Well CEO Emily Levy said Mighty Well is a medical fashion company that develops clothing and accessories for patients with chronic illnesses, “inspiring all patients to live Mighty Well.” Mighty Well currently sells PICCPerfect, a product that covers and protects peripherally inserted central catheter lines, and is in the process of developing several other products, including one that allows for easier access to chemotherapy ports, Levy said.
The four other semi-finalists included Archer Roose, a wine company devoted to alternative packaging techniques; Map My Beauty, an app that uses augmented reality to help users with their makeup; Allergy Amulet, a medical device that allows food-allergy sufferers to test their food while on the go; and Beantown Bedding, a company that sells disposable, biodegradable sheets and won the bid to supply sheets to the Special Olympics 2015 World Summer Games.
Levy did the bulk of her company’s pitching, bringing onstage Yousef Al-Humaidhi, chief financial and technology officer, and Maria del Mar Gomez, chief marketing officer, at the end of her pitch to model some of the company’s products.
While the judges deliberated, actress Eliza Dushku, known for her roles in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dollhouse,” addressed the crowd, discussing gender inequality, entrepreneurship and her experiences serving on the board of directors of THRIVEGulu, a nonprofit serving the community of Gulu, Uganda.
Dushku said that “facing adversity and inequity forces us to really learn who we are as women.”
“I don’t care if you’re the most important person I’m ever going to meet in Hollywood; if you can’t afford me equal respect, then anything you have to say is just more needless noise,” Dushku said.
Following Dushku’s speech and a brief intermission, President of Breakaway Ventures John Burns announced that Mighty Well had won the Babson Breakaway Challenge. Levy immediately leapt out of her seat in the front row at the main stage to embrace her team.
Mighty Well’s mission is very personal for Levy, who has Lyme disease. She said the company originally developed the PICCPerfect in response to her own frustration that, as a sophomore at Babson College, she was told to cover her PICC line with a cut-off sock.
HUBweek concludes Saturday, with several events slated to take place throughout the day, including Google Geek Street at the Boston Children’s Museum from noon to 5 p.m. and the HUBweek closing party, which will feature Brew the Charles, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The closing party will be held indoors at the SoWa Power Station.