Meet the Judges
The Cool Idea Award judging panel is made up of industry thought leaders, entrepreneurs, engineers, inventors, and even previous Cool Idea Award winners. At the end of each application period, the judges review applications in search of the most promising and life-bettering ideas.
Chris Boyle / Soloshot Inc.
Chris Boyle is founder and CEO of SOLOSHOT, an object tracking system that was a 2012 recipient of the Cool Idea Award, which provided gratis injection molded parts to get the first generation off the ground. Chris and the SOLOSHOT team have recently shipped SOLOSHOT3, their 3rd generation robotic camera system that not only automatically tracks and films, but live streams and automatically edits the action too. Chris, a biomedical engineer, inventor and entrepreneur from Queens, NY, has been issued 57 U.S. patents and has started or funded companies ranging from medical devices, materials and apparel, to e-commerce, athlete training and consumer electronics. At just twenty-two, he founded his first company, which developed next-generation materials and medical devices culminating in a license to a Fortune 50 medical device company.
Larry Lukis / Protolabs
Larry Lukis is the founder of Protolabs. Larry previously co-founded a successful $100 million company that wanted to design a better printer, and was floored by the time and money it took to get injection-molded parts. He began writing software that would automate the process of producing injection-molded parts in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost it had taken before. In 1999, Larry founded what is now Protolabs, and since that time, the company has pushed the technology envelope to produce bigger and more complex parts, introduced its CNC machining service, and opened up manufacturing facilities in Europe and Asia. In 2012, Protolabs became a public company and was one of the most successful initial public offerings that year.
Andy MacInnis / Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Andy MacInnis is Technical Instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As part of the Integrated Design & Management (IDM) track, he helps enable the learning and development of extraordinary, innovative leaders who will bring new levels of creativity, vision and integrity to business and society. Andy’s life has been full of creative pursuits—from constructing his first train sets, plastic models, bicycles, and tree forts through to garage boat building and art classes. The Rhode Island School of Design set fire to the designer in him and gave a purpose to his burgeoning skills. A desire to be challenged prompted him to found Monster Prototype, which over a period of 10 years grew into the go-to model and prototype firm in the Boston area. Clients included designers and manufacturers in the consumer product, medical, footwear, and sports industries. His product development work led to his involvement in soldier-worn protective equipment, resulting in the introduction of several groundbreaking products for industry leaders. All of this experience is now making its way to MIT’s IDM students by way of hands-on, workshops, where dirty hands are expected.
Sarah Meister / Indiegogo
As manager of hardware and design at Indiegogo, Sarah Meister works with technology companies from around the world to bring their ideas to life. Before Indiegogo, she was Head of Projects at Vann Alexandra, a creative agency for crowdfunding campaigns, where she worked on over 30 campaigns with a variety of different clients across film, technology, design, and publishing. Since joining Indiegogo in November 2016, Sarah has worked with over 60 campaigns launching consumer products. In the last year, Sarah was featured as an expert in Wharton's Coursera course on crowdfunding, was nominated and awarded the 33 Under 33 award for marketing in New York City, and spoke at 15 events in different cities across the globe including the Innowave conference in Varna, Bulgaria. Prior to Sarah's work in crowdfunding, she worked in post-production and live TV as well as freelance public relations, e-commerce, social media, and marketing. Sarah loves to learn and graduated from The University of Puget Sound with a bachelor's in History and a minor in sociology, and even went to culinary school. She speaks regularly at industry events across all verticals.
Jeff Kerns / Machine Design
Jeff Kerns is a writer at Machine Design, a print and online resource providing technical content for engineers. While earning his mechanical engineering degree, he managed the Polymer Research Lab at RIT, and worked for two aerospace companies. Kerns later went on to become a commissioning engineer, traveling the world working on precision rotary equipment. He brings diverse engineering experience and industry expertise to the Cool Idea Award panel of judges.
Dan Salcedo/ Everpurse
Hacker by 5, Aircraft builder & pilot by 14, entrepreneur at 18, top exec at IAAS #25 INC 500 fastest growing firm in USA before 30. I love creating new products and solutions by combining technologies and processes from widely divergent industries.
Steven Dourmashkin/ Specdrums
Steven earned his B.S. and M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, where he founded Specdrums. He then moved to Boulder, CO to start a PhD in Aerospace Engineering at CU Boulder. A year into his PhD, he launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for Specdrums, raising $188,911 to begin large-scale manufacturing. Steven then led Specdrums full-time as the CEO and head of product development, until Specdrums became acquired by Sphero in June 2018. Steven enjoys entrepreneurship, developing new products, and solving challenging problems.
Rob Weber/ Great North Labs
Rob Weber is Founding Partner of Great North Labs, an early stage venture fund focused on helping founders launch and scale companies in the Midwest/Great Lakes region of America. Prior to Great North Labs, Rob co-founded NativeX (formerly named W3i/Freeze.com) in 2000.
In 2006, Rob shared the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award with his twin brother, and business partner, Ryan Weber. Rob was also named to the 2007 Inc. 5,000 CEO’s Under 30 list.
Rob received his B.S. in Entrepreneurship from St. Cloud State University. Rob has served as a volunteer Board contributor for non-profit Minne*, the 20,000+ member community of Minnesota tech enthusiasts.