Sandbox Summit 2014


*Purchase your early-bird tickets before April 6*

Date: June 9 – 10
Time: 8am – 5pm (both days)
Location:UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center–50 Warren St, Lowell, MA 01852
Event Hashtag: #SandboxSummit2

Click here to attend!


Why attend:

  • Take part in engaging panel discussions that focus on creating ecosystems that promote entrepreneurship in and around their communities (“Entrepreneurship For All”)
  • Network with leading business professionals, VC/angel investors, accelerator program directors, and economic development officials
  • Hear from top keynote speakers from around the nation
  • See top entrepreneurs square off at various pitch contests

Who should attend:

  • Individuals who run or work for accelerator programs as well as those interested in starting an accelerator program.
  • Economic Development & Government Officials interested in creating entrepreneurial ecosystems within their cities.
  • Start-ups considering on applying for an accelerator program.
  • Entrepreneurs and business people wanting to network with other entrepreneurs, VC’s and Angels.
  • VC and Angels who are looking to meet recent start-up graduates from elite US accelerator programs.

Keynote Speakers: 

desh pic


Desh Deshpande
Founder - Deshpande Foundation, President/Chairman of Sparta Group LLC & Chairman of Tejas Networks 







John Harthorne
Founder & CEO – MassChallenge



Panel Speakers: 



Adam McGowan
CEO, Founder and Chief Collaborator – Firefield






Andrew Stickney
Vice President –  Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies





Bill Kenney
Founder & User Advocate – Test My Pitch






Don Gooding
Executive Director – Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development & Vice Chair –  Maine Angels






Jess Knox
The Blackstone Accelerates Growth Program, Startup Weekend (Portland Maine), TEDxDirgo






Malia Lazu
Executive Director & Co-Founder – Future Boston




More Keynote & Panel Speakers TBA!

Day 1 (Monday, June 9)

8:00 – 9:00am:  Breakfast & Networking
9:00 – 10:15am: Welcoming & Keynote Addresses

  • David Parker, Executive Director of the Merrimack Valley Sandbox
  • Desh Deshpande, Co-Founder of the Deshpande Foundation
  • John Harthorne, Founder/CEO of MassChallenge

10:15 – 10:30am: Break
10:30 – 11:45am: Breakout Panel Sessions 1

  • PractitionersAwareness/marketing: How do you reach your intended audience of potential entrepreneurs, and convince them to participate?
  • Community– Launch: Who should be involved to launch an effective, efficient, and sustainable entrepreneurship program?
  • Entrepreneurs– Pitching: How to nail a pitch – feedback from mentors/experts/angel investors.

12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch Plenary Keynote – TBA
1:00 – 2:30pm: Breakout Panel Sessions 2

  • Practitioners Mentoring:  How do you recruit/screen/train/monitor/retain the best possible mentors for your program?
  • Community– Money: Where can it come from, how much is needed, how to convince donors to contribute, role of government in financing
  • Entrepreneurs– Funding:  What options exist, how to ask, what are expectations of angels/VCs/lenders, “alternative” options

2:30 – 3:30pm: Pitch Contest #1 – Local/Consumer Product/Retail Ideas
3:30 – 3:45pm: Break/Networking
3:45 – 5:00pm:  Breakout Panel Sessions 3

  • Practitioners– Learning vs Doing: What can be taught to entrepreneurs, and what should be learned by doing or through program goals
  • Community– Public Partners: What role(s) can government take on to be most effective in fostering entrepreneurship?
  • Entrepreneurs– Accelerators: How to evaluate accelerator programs – to find the best ones for you.

5:00 – 5:30pm:  Closing Remarks 


Day 2 (Tuesday, June 10)

8:00 – 9:00am: Breakfast and Networking

9:00 – 9:30am: Keynote Speaker TBA

9:30 – 10:30am: Pitch Contest #2 – Social Impact Organizations (for and nonprofit alike)

10:30 – 10:45am: Break/Networking

10:45 – 12:00pm: Breakout Panel Sessions 1

  • Practitioners– Diversity: Techniques for managing diversity among entrepreneurs and ideas in an accelerator class
  • Community– Support: How can banks, real estate firms, and foundations support entrepreneurship programs in the beginning and when underway?
  • Entrepreneurs– Networking: Tips; organizations to join; How to expand your network to your advantage?

12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch

1:00 – 1:45pm: Pitch Contest #3:  High Tech/Scalable Ideas

1:45 – 2:30pm: Plenary Session:  Advice from Entrepreneurs – Panel Discussion

2:30 – 3:30pm: Plenary Session: Wrap-Up Discussion – Lessons Learned/Takeaways

3:30 – 4:00pm:Winners’ Pitch Contest and Awards


You can make hotel accommodations at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center (same location as the conference).

For reservations, please click here and use the promotional code below that applies to you:

  • Individual Attendee Code: 7489
  • Group Attendee Code: 36028

Keynote Speakers: 

Robin Chase


Robin Chase
-Founder & Former CEO, Zipcar
-Founder & CEO, Buzzcar
-Passionate Advocate of sustainability within communities



desh pic


Desh Deshpande
-Founder and Chairman, Cascade Communications Corp.
-Co-Founder, Deshpande Foundation
-Co-Chair, President Obama’s Council on Innovation & Entrepreneurship



Panel Speakers: 

Growing the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs



Jacey Buel 
-Entrepreneurship Education Director, The Possible Project (Massachusetts)




franky descoteaux



Franky Descoteaux
-Entrepreneur in Residence, Middlesex Community College (Massachusetts)





Janin Duran
-Program Manager, Merrimack Valley Sandbox




zach schwartz


Zach Schwartz
-Managing Partner, LightHouse Ohio




Engaging an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

jess andors



Jessica Andors
-Co-Executive Director, Lawrence CommunityWorks



Clara Brenner


Clara Brenner
-CEO, Tumml (California)




Emil Kuruvilla


Emil Kuruvilla
Marketing & Communications Manager, Merrimack Valley Sandbox




heather mcmann


Heather McMann
-Executive Director, Groundwork Lawrence (Massachusetts)




kelly ramirez


Kelly Ramirez
-CEO, Social Enterprise Greenhouse (Rhode Island)




david weber


Derek Weber
-President, goBRANDgo! (Missouri)




How to Help Entrepreneurs Raise Capital

ryan leary


Ryan Leary
-Co-Founder, Running Start (Massachusetts)




chris miller



Chris Miller
-Founder, The Mission Center L3C (Missouri)






David Parker
-Executive Director, Merrimack Valley Sandbox



nathan rothstein



Nathan Rothstein
-President, Project Repat



Innovative Ideas on Entrepreneurial Space and Programming

bill jacobson


Bill Jacobson
-Co-Founder/CEO, Workbar






Lianna Kushi
-Program Manager, Merrimack Valley Sandbox




bob means


Bob Means
-Director of LaunchHouse Accelerator/Partner, LaunchHouse






Solomon Menashi
-Business Operation Specialist, The Possible Project (Massachusetts)






Andrew Stickney
-Vice President, Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies



brenna venkatesh



Brenna Venkatesh
-Co-Founder, Running Start (Massachusetts)



Conference Recap


Click here to see over 100 photos of the Summit!

Click here to read the Lowell Sun article about the Summit!

On June 11th, the Sandbox held its first ever Sandbox Summit at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell! Over 200 people came from Lowell, Lawrence, and cities all across the nation to celebrate the entrepreneurial activity in the region and to examine the conference’s theme of “Re-Imagining Cities Through Entrepreneurship.”  Throughout the day, there were multiple activities including panel discussions, a Winners Showdown Pitch Contest, and a keynote address from Robin Chase, the Founder of Zipcar. 

Opening Remarks/Panel Discussions

Sandbox Summit 2013

The Summit kicked off with inspiring words from Desh Deshpande, the Co-Founder of the Deshpande Foundation and Marty Meehan, the Chancellor of UMass Lowell. They both talked about the incredible progress that the Sandbox has made in the last 2.5 years, and the impact that it is making in the region.

Then attendees had the opportunity to participate in panel discussions.The morning panels included “Growing the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs” and “Engaging an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.” The former panel featured experts from organizations and higher education institutions talking about the most innovative approaches to promoting entrepreneurship among high school and college students. The latter panel included marketing and community outreach experts talking about how organizations can engage key stakeholders in their community.

The two discussions in the afternoon were on “How to Help Entrepreneurs Raise Capital” and “Innovative Ideas on Entrepreneurial Space and Programming.” The raising capital panel had entrepreneurs and experts talking about various methods of raising $5K-$50K in capital and how a community can help. Opportunities such as crowdfunding, loans, and donations were up for debate. The space and programming panel featured experts from Ohio, Vermont, and Massachusetts talking about the setup of their spaces, design of their programs, and the positive impact all these things can have on the community.

Site Visits


For the next part of the Summit, attendees had the opportunity to visit community organizations and institutions in Lowell and Lawrence integrating entrepreneurship into their programs. The Lawrence visits included meeting high school entrepreneurs from our Catalyst Program at the Greater Lawrence Technical School and immigrant entrepreneurs at Lawrence CommunityWorks.




For the Lowell visit, the first stop was at Lowell Telecommunications Corporation (LTC) to learn more about the Video Startup Boost. This innovative four-month program that the Sandbox helped start gives video and social media entrepreneurs a chance to learn business and video/editing skills, so that they can start their own ventures. Attendees heard from Jessica Wilson, the Executive Director of LTC and Lori Abel (program participant).





During the next visit, attendees visited YouthBuild Lowell to see an innovative Catalyst project. A group of students at YouthBuild decided to open “Crazy Joes” (right), a student operated store that sells snacks and beverages to the staff/students at YouthBuild. Attendees were excited to see the space and even had the opportunity to buy some snacks! The last stop was at Middlesex Community College where attendees heard from faculty members and students on their experience with the Catalyst Program and their student-run club on campus.


Entrepreneur Showcase, Winners Showdown, and Keynote Address





The evening part of the Summit was meant to celebrate entrepreneurship. During the first part, over 50 student, youth, and teacher entrepreneurs showcased their ideas. This was an opportunity for the community to see neat innovations such as Philip Colangelos “Robotic Feeding Army” (left) that is designed to give physically and mentally disabled individuals the ability to eat meals themselves.





Next was the Winners Showdown! Four winners from our Spring Pitch Contest Series squared off in front of Special Guest Judges for a $5K Grand Prize. All of the contestants made great pitches, so it was a tough choice for the judges. Here were the winners:




First Place ($5K) – Veronica Chapman, My Crowning Jewel











Fan-Favorite ($500) – Philip Colangelo, Robotic Feeding Arm 








The last part of the evening was the keynote address from Robin Chase, the Founder of Zipcar. Robin inspired all those in the audience with her story of starting up Zipcar and the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur. She also talked about the importance of the environment and how climate change is a real threat, and that we must act now to avoid hurting our planet.

Thank you to all those who took part in this year’s event. We hope to see you all at Sandbox Summit 2014!