Brown University’s Breakthrough Lab (B-Lab) is an intensive 8-week accelerator program that supports student entrepreneurs developing high-impact ventures. Each venture receives sector-specific mentoring, a peer cohort of dedicated founders, and access to co-working space.
We are thrilled to welcome 14 student ventures to this year’s program. Our founders come from all across the Brown and RISD landscape and bring diverse perspectives, strengths, and interests to the cohort. Their innovations span business sectors from solar energy to high-energy foods, from technical clothing to big data for grocers, and from limb prostheses to internet security. They are bound together by their passion for creating meaningful solutions to important global challenges, and they represent some of the most advanced ventures in the Brown entrepreneurial ecosystem.
THE BETTER POP
The Better Pop is the beginning of making super foods more accessible. A lot of people don’t know what super foods are or are intimidated by them, and therefore don’t know how to include them in their diet. Our venture started this past summer when one of our mother’s doctor told her the benefits of probiotics for her digestive complications. We knew kombucha would be an enjoyable way for her to consume probiotics without adding to her pill count, however she was reluctant to try it. Since popsicles are one of the few foods she can eat, we decided to combine the two into a delicious and approachable way to consume and reap the benefits of kombucha.
RISD '18, Industrial Design
Brown '18, VISA
Dialogue-Africa is an online platform for learning African languages. Our goal is to serve the large and untapped market of people interested in connecting to African countries, culture, and people through language. We aim to remedy the distressing lack of learning resources for these languages by providing comprehensive language lessons, leveraging social networks and creating online learning communities. As African economies continue to develop, and African cultural exports begin to have a bigger impact worldwide, global interest in African languages and cultures will surge. We want to be at the vanguard of these deepening exchanges between Africa and the wider world.
Brown '18, A.B Africana Studies + Sc.B Social Analysis & Research
Brown '19, Master's in Computer Science
goTeff is a nutrition brand entirely based on an ancient super-grain, teff, that originated in Ethiopia. In addition to being gluten-free, one cup of uncooked teff meets daily adult nutritional requirements with 51% protein, 62% fiber, 82% iron, and 35% calcium. Moreover, teff is known to fuel Ethiopian endurance athletes who are among the top performers in Olympic long-distance running events. Therefore, using teff’s proven benefits for endurance runners, goTeff has created a low sugar, all-natural, teff-based nutrition bar for cardio, nutrition, and health-minded consumers. goTeff is more than just a nutrition brand. Our vision is to empower 6.5 million small holder farmers in Ethiopia through fair trade prices and the provision of irrigation pumps that will increase their yield and decrease their reliance on rainfall for harvest.
Brown '19, BEO & Economics
Brown '18, Mathematical Physics
We’re developing AI control systems for renewable energy – helping renewables adapt to changing weather, a dynamic grid, and variable installation locations. We’re a team of AI researchers and entrepreneurs working with renewable energy professionals to develop advanced control software that saves them time, money, and energy.
Brown A.B. '17.5, Computer Science
Brown Ph.D. '18, Computer Science
HomeTap combines the efficiency of concentrated beverage technology with the convenience of ready-to-drink products. Our counter-top appliance integrates the process of mixing, chilling, and serving your favorite beverages on demand. Our own line of concentrates focuses on healthy and environmentally friendly beverages, including almond milk, that are otherwise hard to find in concentrated form. This technology enables an immediate reduction in packaging waste and emissions from beverage transportation.
Brown '17, Physics
Brown '18, Computer Science and Engineering
Immi is an intuitive form-filler software application that guides displaced people through completing applications for asylum, visas, and citizenship. We believe in breaking bureaucratic barriers to make our world more accessible. Immi deconstructs forms into their base parts and reordering, grouping, and explaining these parts into a translated question flow that avoids confusion, provides examples, and warns of risk. Immi has built-in empathy, anticipating questions an applicant may have and provides guidance to answer those questions accurately. Once the applicant finishes our simplified questionnaire, the program provides a completed PDF form that is ready to be submitted to USCIS. Immi has three main applications: First, individuals who do not have an immigration lawyer can better manage their own application process. Second, we assist lawyers by eliminating the time spent on filling out and explaining forms. And third, we enable NGOs with limited resources to help more applicants. We are in the process of connecting with NGOs, resource centers, and immigration lawyers to discover how we can also best serve these players’ needs, forging partnerships that will get us into more needful hands, and help them help better.
Brown '18, International Relations
Brown '18, Computational Neuroscience
Matthew Warren Bruinooge
Brown '21, Computer Science
Brown '20, Computer Science
The Impact Labs aims to create a suite of programs at the intersection of technology and social good. We find that while many “big tech” opportunities are widely available to computer science students in college, there are fewer opportunities to combine tech and social good. From The Impact Fellowship, to The Impact Summit, our programs create a community and discussion around the companies and leaders that are already using tech in worthwhile ways. By featuring the companies that are doing well by doing good, and offering both education and resources/mentorship, we hope to create a wider array of opportunities for computer science students to pursue. It’s not enough to inspire a desire to do good, it is also our responsibility to truly empower that urge by creating meaningful and actionable opportunities via career fairs, pitch competitions, hackathons and more.
Brown '19.5, Computer Science
Koi Prosthetics aims to address the demand for affordable prosthetics in third world countries. Our venture serves the impoverished peoples of these countries, with our biggest design driver being cost. Currently, there are 40 million amputees in developing nations, but only 5% have access to affordable prosthetics. In Vietnam, our initial target market, the average income is around $1,000. In contrast, the average prosthetic cost in the US is at least $5,000. By bridging this gap, Koi Prosthetics has the real potential of raising the quality of life for people who need it the most. Currently, the company is developing a second iteration of a prosthetic knee designed to be sold for less than $50. In addition, one of the biggest causes limited access to prosthetics in these markets is poor distribution. In many countries, especially Vietnam, reaching a hospital or a prosthetist can be an ordeal, with rural communities often out of reach. The team is designing adjustable pylons and sockets in response, which will reduce the need for patients to make as many trips to their prosthetist.
Brown '18, Biomedical Engineering
Brown '18, Biomedical Engineering
Brown '18, Biomedical Engineering
Brown '19, Mechanical Engineering
Paivapo Publishers is a mission-based press that produces engaging and affordable storybooks, for children between the ages of 4 and 7. The content of our books showcases the diversity of Zimbabwe’s cultures, peoples and languages. While entertaining, our books are also great educational tools that facilitate language development and literacy acquisition.
Brown '18, Africa Studies and Literary Arts
Some of the most coveted tech companies are staying private for longer and longer. Unlike public company shares, you can’t trade this “unicorn” stock on a live market. Parallel Market changes that and allows accredited investors to trade tokens representing hard-to-access unicorn stock. Parallel Market grants investors access to highly coveted unicorn shares and creates a liquid market where there exists none. Instead of going through a lengthy process, accredited investors can trade unicorn tokens on Parallel’s exchange. Underlying these tokens are the shares of large private tech companies, such as UberTokens representing Uber shares. Parallel acquires the underlying private shares from early investors and employees who want to cash out before an IPO.
Brown '20, Computer Science (Sc. B)
Our venture will allow online services to ensure all users who have an account on their site are real humans. Networks of fake accounts are powerful, dangerous tools. They can be used to mislead the public about anything from the popularity of consumer goods to international news events. We want to curb this behavior by making it extremely difficult to create accounts automatically.
Brown '21, Computer Science
Brown '21, Computer Science
Brown '21, Economics
When wearing backless or strapless clothing, women lack options for undergarments to wear that provide them with comfort and support. Many women love to expose their backs and shoulders while maintaining nipple coverage and breast support. However, current “sticky bras,” which are backless and strapless adhesive bras that stick directly to women’s breasts, are ineffective. These traditional sticky bras require inconvenient cleaning and lose their stick after only a few uses. Items including hair and dust collect on the inside adhesive part of the bra and prevent further uses. Thus, customers must either be very cautious with their sticky bra maintenance or must buy another expensive bra after only a few wears. Customers that use currently available sticky bras are not completely satisfied with their product. Not only are the users unsatisfied with the unavailability of replaceable adhesives, but these users encounter difficulty in cleaning and care. To solve these problems, ReliaBra has developed sticky bras that offer removable and replaceable adhesives. ReliaBra provides women the confidence to wear what they want, without worrying about their bra losing its stick. ReliaBra will offer a variety of bras that provide a bra shell and come with removable, replaceable adhesive pads made specifically for ReliaBra products. ReliaBra provides women with confidence through (1) reliable stick, (2) effortless use, (3) cleanliness, and (4) affordability. None of ReliaBra’s current competitors offer replaceable adhesives. Our business plan model is similar to that of razor blades; most of our revenue comes from sales of the replaceable adhesives.
Brown '18, Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations
We are tackling the issue of fresh produce oversupply in supermarkets through of software and technology. Supermarkets throw away nearly 30% of the produce they bring in simply due to poor existing solutions in the field of perishables. Our software utilizes new advancements in the area of statistics and machine learning to provide better inventory levels for midsize supermarkets. Throughout this process we hope to reduce the amount of perishable food that gets thrown away by 60%.
Brown '20, Applied Math/Economics
Wearable Kouture is an apparel experience that embraces more inclusive elements to make clothing meet the symbolic and functional needs of those that fall outside of the bell curve “norms” that have historically dictated garment construction. The reality is that many of us do, or will, face disability and/or limitations in our lifetime, which will then, in turn, influence our apparel consumption. Right now, options force concessions. You just can’t have it all: function, style, affordability, and a website that allows you to shop online and not feel marginalized. Thus, WK also aims to create not only novel products, but an e-commerce marketplace that is inclusive and welcoming to the diversity and spectrum of health and disability experienced by just about everyone. Our initial target audience is working women seeking business-appropriate/professional wear, as this is one of the biggest “pains” revealed in our extensive user research. We firmly acknowledge and believe in three core concepts: 1) image very much does matter, 2) the experience of clothing starts long before getting dressed and, 3) body diversity as the norm.
Brown '18 MPA Masters of Public Affairs
Brown '20, Visual Arts & French Studies
RISD '20, Graphic Design