July 23, 2013
Wentworth Startup Honored as MassChallenge Finalist
Gentoo, one of five teams funded in the second iteration of Wentworth’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship challenge, Accelerate, has been named one of 128 finalists in MassChallenge, an annual $1 million global startup competition and accelerator program. Composed of Wentworth students Greg Affsa (Industrial Design ’15), Kathryn Belkin (Biomedical Engineering ’15), and Ben Nadeau (Electromechanical Engineering ’13), the startup won top honors for the InfuGo, a vest that consolidates equipment and medication for individuals going through outpatient infusion treatments.
“Our goal is to empower and provide independence for individuals in outpatient infusion treatment,” Affsa said.
MassChallenge, one of the largest startup accelerators ever, awards $1 million to its winners.
The idea for the InfuGo came about last year when Belkin’s aunt was diagnosed with cancer. Currently, a person receiving outpatient infusion treatment is set up with a pump and medication that they carry around in a canvas shoulder bag.
“The bag falls off your shoulder and gets hung up on everything, and showering is pretty much impossible for people to do on their own,” Affsa said.
Belkin saw her aunt struggling with her treatment, and approached Affsa and Nadeau last fall with the idea for the vest, which takes the infusion equipment and places it in a vest on the patient’s body, giving the equipment better protection as well as allowing the patient greater mobility.
According to Affsa, there is a very negative culture surrounding outpatient infusion treatment, which Gentoo hopes to change.
“People dread having to carry around the bag, but they know they have to,” said Affsa. “Even the smallest day-to-day tasks cause them stress.” The team hopes the InfuGo will give patients the power to live their lives as normal as possible, making their experience a positive one.
Currently, Gentoo is in the process of establishing itself as a business with the help they have received from mentors throughout the MassChallenge experience, one of the many benefits of being a finalist, which also includes training, office space, and media coverage.
“At the end there is a pitch competition and a presentation for money, but they push the idea that it’s really about the journey and not about getting to that endpoint,” said Affsa. “It’s more about how you develop yourself throughout the experience.”
The team is determined to have the vest built in the United States, and is in the process of working with a manufacturer in Fall River, Mass.
The MassChallenge teams will showcase their startups and meet with a number of esteemed business and technology professionals on October 30, when the winners will be announced.
- Dennis Nealon