MIT said it opened the doors of its largest startup accelerator for student-led companies, the Beehive Cooperative. The Beehive is to house 40 companies, providing them summer office space. Each startup has at least one current student on its founding team.
A ‘hive’ of entrepreneurial activity: MIT’s new startup accelerator gives early-stage companies the opportunity to grow in a dynamic and supportive environment
The Beehive houses 40 companies, from hi-tech businesses to makers of consumer goods
Cambridge, Mass., July 3, 2012—A fair trade cosmetics company that makes organic anti-aging skin cream; an energy business that increases the longevity of rechargeable lithium batteries; and a digital gift-wrapping service that lets customers personalize electronic gift certificates are just a few of the companies that have set up shop at Beehive Cooperative, MIT’s newest and largest startup accelerator.
The Beehive, an initiative of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, provides summer office space to early-stage companies. About 55 companies applied for space at the Cooperative; 40 were selected. Each company has at least one current MIT student on its founding team.
Philip Cohen, a second-year MBA student at MIT Sloan who manages the Beehive, says his goal “was to bring in an eclectic mix of companies that would help foster a creative environment.
“These companies all have very different approaches to development and growth, and when you put them in a closed space, the conversations go in new and interesting directions,” he says.
Cohen is an entrepreneur in his own right. His Beehive-based company, AudioCommon, is developing a web platform that allows musicians and other members of the audio production industry to communicate and collaborate in new ways throughout the audio recording process. Cohen, a singer-songwriter whose band performs around Boston, says his platform, “allows musicians to do what they do best: create music.”
Delightfully, which provides digital gift-wrapping services, is another company that piqued Cohen’s interest in the application process. The firm’s web-based platform lets shoppers virtually “wrap” electronic gift certificates with customizable pictures, games, maps, and messages. “This company has enormous potential,” says Cohen. “For the recipient, electronic gifts oftentimes feel impersonal. Delightfully allows gift-givers to show the time and effort went into choosing a certain gift.”
Jamela, a fair trade skin care company that sells an increasingly popular facial moisturizer for women, is another promising company. Jamela, which is positioned in the two fastest-growing segments of the $2.2 billion skin care market—organic and anti-aging, has built a sustainable and socially responsible sourcing system working with small farmers in Morocco. It sells its products online and is currently in negotiations with several potential buyers.
SolidEnergy, founded by a team of MIT and Harvard-trained scientists—is another noteworthy company. The company is developing a new kind of rechargeable lithium battery that can safely operate in very cold and very hot temperatures, and has the potential to last four times longer than a conventional lithium-ion battery. These features increase the capability of electric vehicles and could help speed up their widespread adoption, which would reduce global CO2 emissions. Earlier this year, SolidEnergy won the first-ever MIT $100K Accelerate Contest, an entrepreneurship competition.
The Beehive hosts a bi-weekly speaker series, which includes talks from practicing lawyers, investors, and entrepreneurs. In addition, the companies participate in regular brainstorming sessions, where they help each other work through challenges.
“It’s a great atmosphere: on any given day, you’ll see a diverse group of teams reaching out to each other and exchanging information that is key to a company’s growth,” says Cohen. “The Beehive is an important part of MIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”