Inno Madness 2023
By Hannah Green – Inno Reporter
March 30, 2023, 09:24am EDT
More than 5,000 votes have been cast in the Inno Madness semifinals, but it’s still not clear who will emerge victorious to compete in the final matchup. There’s still one day left to cast your votes. Let’s meet the surviving companies who have impressed voters so far this year.
This year’s competition is shaping up to be a Cinderella story for Minute Kitchen, ranked 16th in Region A. Ranking is done according to approximate size and funding of each company. There’s not much information about the startup online, but we know it is a vending-machine company that aims to provide hot meals at a more accessible location and price. It is run by graduate students Nandish Thakkar, Michael Hasibuan and Omkar Vijay Anand, according to Babson College.
Minute Kitchen is competing against Wasabi, the Boston company that broke the “unicorn” dry spell last year after raising $125 million in a Series D round. Wasabi has become a well-known name in the Boston tech community, known for being the Red Sox’s official cloud storage partner and holding the official naming rights to sports television provider NESN’s new studio at Fenway Park. The company is led by David Friend, the serial entrepreneur who was most recently the CEO of Carbonite Inc. Wasabi was ranked at the very top of its region in this year’s Inno Madness competition.
As of Thursday morning, Minute Kitchen had the edge over Wasabi, with 51% of the votes.
For its part, HYCU surged ahead of its competitor Ezly Rent after being aheady by only 20 votes the day before. Talk about a tight competition! HYCU is another top name in the Boston tech scene and was slated third in Region D. It has beaten out top competitors like ezCater and Starburst to make it to the semifinals. Readers may know HYCU as a 2022 BostInno Fire Awards honoree. Last year, the company raised a $53 million Series B round and moved into a new headquarters in the Seaport.
Ezly Rent is an early-stage startup that emerged as the top company from Region B. The company was ranked 16th among its competitors. A triumph in the semifinals would also qualify as a Cinderella story for this startup. Ezly Rent is a Black-led tech company that helps people rent and lend items. On its marketplace, customers can find everything from DJ sets to bar kits to games and home decor.
To all the remaining competitors in this year’s competition, Godspeed. Voting will remain open in the semifinals through 9 a.m. on Friday, March 31. The competition resumes on Monday, April 3, to select the winner of this year’s Inno Madness bracket.