Bounce Imaging Wins MassChallenge Award and Additional $10,000
Inspiration can often arise from seemingly impossible circumstances. For Francisco Aguilar, cofounder and CEO of Boston-based Bounce Imaging, the spark came soon after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
As he watched first responders flood the devastated region, Aguilar thought there had to be a better way for rescuers to find injured people in damaged buildings and detect any dangerous obstacles that could impede the response. Aguilar, who graduated with an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June, teamed up with cofounder and COO David Young, an MBA student at MIT and an Army reservist, in January to develop a remote imaging and sensing platform for police, first responders, and search-and-rescue teams.
Their invention, roughly the size and shape of a baseball, is packed with six cameras and infrared LEDs. First responders can throw the high-tech orb into potentially dangerous spaces, giving them a 360-degree view of the room and vital information on air quality, temperature, radiation, and other hazards. The data is then sent to first responders’ mobile devices.
A winning idea in hand, the young entrepreneurs sought out the expertise of Mark Allio, director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, a business assistance program with a city chapter based at UMass Boston.
Young and Aguilar had been accepted into the MassChallenge Class of 2012, and Aguilar met Allio at a networking session for startups. The pair asked Allio to be one of their senior mentors because of his experience with small business development.
Allio worked with Aguilar and Young this fall, and in October the young businessmen won $50,000 from MassChallenge, an annual $1 million global startup competition and accelerator program. They also took home an additional $10,000 from VenCorps. Then, last month, TIME named Bounce Imaging one of the best inventions in 2012. Aguilar and Young hope to have a product ready for field-testing by SWAT teams and Massachusetts police departments next month.
“Mark was really instrumental in helping us get ready for the pitch,” Young said. “[He] really gave us some tough love. Outside of the business plan and demonstrating a need for a product, being able to show you have the right team in place is huge.”
This is the third consecutive year that a MSBDC-backed new venture client has won $50,000 from MassChallenge.
“We are all very excited that Francisco and David have achieved this milestone with Bounce Imaging. Their innovation not only saves money, but saves lives. This is a perfect example of socially conscious entrepreneurship at its best, and we’re proud to have played a supporting role,” Allio said.
Young recommends other small businesses also seek out the free business advisory services and workshops available from the MSBDC’s Boston Regional Office and Minority Center, which is part of the College of Management.
“For someone that’s starting a small business and needs coaching and mentorship, I think Mark will be your biggest advocate. He also will connect you with certain resources and make sure you are following a timeline that’s going to make your business successful.”
To learn about the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center at UMass Boston and the free services it offers, visit www.sbdc.umb.edu or call 617.297.7750.
About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s nine colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.