Sloan in Action: Play Labs, Tech Jobs, Re-Branding, Sharper Ideas

by Nancy DuVergne Smith on September 7, 2017 · 0 comments

in Alumni Life, Campus Culture, Management

Play Labs demonstrated virtual realty startups this summer.

Play Labs demo day offered virtual reality startups.

The MIT Sloan School of Management offers a cornucopia of fresh ideas online. Here are a few recent samples:

Three Startups to Watch from MIT’s Play Labs Accelerator

Want a dog without the bother of late-night walks in the rain?

MIT’s new summertime accelerator, Play Labs, supports light-hearted startups in diverse industries. This summer, 13 groups presented their ideas in five-minute pitches at a demo day hosted at the MIT Game Lab. The session showcased startups that had already received $20,000 and mentoring support to potential investors and the MIT community.

One of the presenters, Ridgeline Labs, has a solution for dog lovers with limited time. The creators promise the “first high-quality VR dog simulator” that invites you to feed, pet, and take a virtual canine on a scenic stroll—without the mess.

LaborX founder Yscaira Jimenez MBA '14.

LaborX founder Yscaira Jimenez MBA ’14.

Startup Places Skilled Workers in Tech Jobs, No Degree Needed

Yscaira Jimenez MBA ’14 hopes to fill a huge US labor gap through her company, LaborX—an online platform that matches high-tech employers with job candidates who have technical skills but no college degree. LaborX, which calls itself the “LinkedIn for the LinkedOut,” highlights candidates’ qualifications with video resumes and work samples. The company, founded by Jimenez in 2015, has helped place candidates at companies including Amazon and Google.

“With college so expensive, I thought creating an alternative pathway to meaningful employment in the knowledge economy was critical,” said Jimenez, who will speak at the MIT Sloan Global Women’s Conference Oct. 6 in New York City.


Mountain Hub, a company in transition, helps make outdoor activities safer.

The Mountain Hub app shares trail conditions to help make outdoor activities safer.

Time to Pivot? Four Steps to Make It Work

Avalanche safety became personal when Brint Markle MBA ’14 had a close call in 2010 while skiing with friends in Switzerland. So Markle teamed up with Jim Christian SM ’14 and Sam Whittemore ’14 to form a company focused on proactive avalanche safety that started with a better understanding of snow conditions.

The company, which began as the hardware maker Avatech, has evolved into Mountain Hub, an information-sharing app that maps routes and conditions for many outdoor activities. Markle describes the steps he took to pivot his entrepreneurial efforts, including selling the first company and re-branding and finding new partners for Mountain Hub.

Ideas Made to Matter: HubSpot Chief People Officer Katie Burke

How does Katie Burke MBA ‘09 make her new ideas better? “I talk to anyone who will listen.” And that instantly improves her ideas, says Burke, who manages recruitment, learning and development, culture, and employee experience at Hubspot, an inbound marketing firm founded by Brian Hallligan MBA ’05 and Dharmesh Shah SM ’06.

“My idea ‘made to matter’ is that tech should be more diverse and inclusive than it is,” Burke says. “So I spend most of my days and nights thinking about how we can meaningfully shape the identity of tech to be more inclusive of folks of all genders, all national origins, all languages, all sexual orientations, and all racial identities. That’s a big, hairy, audacious goal, but I think it should matter to all of us.”








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