Sandbox Winter Accelerator Awards Celebration Features
$25K Prize Pool & Keynote from Secretary Bialecki!
From December to February, the Sandbox had its first Accelerator class. During these twelve weeks, 13 early-stage entrepreneurs participated in intensive-workshops, worked closely with mentors, and met together as a group to accelerate their ventures. The Winter Accelerator Awards Celebration concluded the program with a $25K prize pool and had a keynote speech from Gregory Bialecki, the Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development.
The evening started out with our Accelerator Finalists showcasing their businesses to audience members. This gave the community an opportunity to hear more about them, what they got out of the Accelerator Program, and their plans to expand their ventures.
The speaking program kicked off with Marthy Meehan, the Chancellor of UMass Lowell. Chancellor Meehan talked about the positive impact the Sandbox has had on UMass Lowell and the community.
Then Desh Deshpande, the Co-Founder of the Deshpande Foundation, talked about how the Sandbox concept started in India, then came to Lowell and Lawrence, and now can be a model for small urban cities across the nation.
The keynote address of the night came from Gregory Bialecki, the Massachusetts Secretary of Housing of Economic Development. Earlier in the evening, Secretary Bialecki had the opportunity to meet the Accelerator Finalists and hear more about their ventures. He said that entrepreneurship is perceived as just tech. He was happy to see that the Sandbox welcomes all types of ventures. He concluded that Lowell and Lawrence have a big role to play economically not only in the state’s future, but the nation’s.
The second half of the remarks gave the audience a glimpse of the experience of the program. First Trish Fleming, the Executive Director of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge, talked about her experience as a Sandbox Mentor. She reflected on the three months in the program and gave the audience insights on what it takes to be a mentor. Then, Accelerator Finalist Brenna Nan Schneider of 99C Manufacturing talked about the benefits of the program. She said that the biggest things she got out of the program was the support of her peers, the mentors, and access to the broader Sandbox network.
After this, it was the moment everyone was waiting for. Here are the list of the winners:
$7,500 – Brenna Nan Schneider of 99C Manufacturing
$5,000 – Bill Peregoy of Lawrence Yoga Collective
$5,000 – Francey Slater & Lydia Sisson of Mill City Grows
$5,000 – Keo Rattana of KEO Homemade Ice Cream