Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: Amanda Williams

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better.

This will be Amanda’s first year on the Cool Idea! Award judge panel.

Next in our Cool Idea! Award judge series is Amanda Williams. Currently, she spearheads intelligent packaging programs at Jabil—a global manufacturing company. Before joining Jabil, Amanda founded multiple startups in consumer electronics and manufacturing logistics and has worked at tech companies like Xerox PARC, Adobe, Intel, and Microsoft.

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
Seeing lots of cool ideas!

Tell us about your background—what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I went to graduate school for information and computer science, but also received some training in ethnography and anthropology while I was there and I use it daily.

What’s the best piece of entrepreneurial or business advice you’ve received and how did it help you?
I was talking with the president of a design firm about one of his employees, and he said “He’s a great designer because he argues well. He argues a lot, but it’s never to win or to prove that he is right. He argues because that’s how you make the product better.” I thought it was a really smart insight, and it has informed what I look for when I’m hiring, and how to judge and handle conflict when managing a team. Continue reading

Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: John Vaskis

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better.

This week we’re chattin’ with John Vaskis, Senior Director of Hardware at Indiegogo. John helps hardware-based businesses execute successful crowdfunding campaigns whether that be through PR outreach, finding a manufacturing partner, gauging consumer interest, or any other activity that helps startups get off the ground.

John Vaskis of Indiegogo

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
Seeing all of the awesome products that always come through the contest every year. The innovation that happens with the Cool Idea! Program always blows my minds—it feels like you’re looking into the future.

Tell us about your background—what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I originally went to college for computer science to create video games; needless to say CS and me were similar to oil and vinegar. I did get into the video game world, though, on the business side as my first real job.

What’s the best piece of entrepreneurial or business advice you’ve received and how did it help you?
When I started my first job I was told to simply “get out there” because I knew no one, had no network, and I was told that would be the quickest way to learn. That proved to be very useful. This industry is based upon connections, so I suggest to everyone to make as many of them as possible. Continue reading

Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: Taylor Stein

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better.

Taylor Stein of Autodesk

Next up in our Q&A series is Taylor Stein. He’s a technology evangelist at Autodesk based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work at Autodesk focuses on inspiring future engineers to solve real-world problems with generative design software and additive manufacturing.

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
I’m most excited for the range of submissions in 2017! Looking at past award winners, I’m equally as impressed by the smart, connected devices, as I am by the simplest of products that need some injection molding to come to life.

Tell us about your background—what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I find myself coding more and more at work each and every day. From writing Python scripts that gather social media metrics to algorithmically defining pieces of geometry, coding is continuing to be an incredibly important skill. Continue reading

Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: Andy MacInnis

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better.

Andy MacInnis is a director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Andy MacInnis is the technical instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He leads the Integrated Design & Management (IDM) track, which takes a hands-on and practical approach to design. Prior to his position at MIT, Andy founded Monster Prototype—a leading go-to model and prototype firm in the Boston area. At Monster Prototype, he consulted companies developing consumer products, medical devices, and footwear.

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
Seeing where inventors find the junction of Need and Solution.

Tell us about your background—what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I find the challenge of repairing old things like cars, boats, houses, and bikes rewarding and worthwhile. Continue reading

Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: Chris Boyle

Chris Boyle and his company, SOLOSHOT, won the Cool Idea! Award in 2012.

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better. In our first installment, we’re talking with Chris Boyle.

Chris is a biomedical engineer and entrepreneur from Queens, New York. He founded his first company at the age of 22, which led to a license agreement with a Fortune 50 medical device company. Since then, he has launched and funded multiple startups that range from consumer electronics to apparel. His most recent endeavor is SOLOSHOT—an object-tracking camera and recipient of the Cool Idea! Award. Chris’ close ties to the startup community and experience winning the Cool Idea! Award add a unique perspective to our panel of judges.

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
I really enjoy seeing the combination of scientific and entrepreneurial passion. At its core, it’s both about combining problem solving with a passionate work ethic and it’s exciting to see those two things come together very early in the process.

Tell us about your background – what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I created and sold a TV show to BermanBraun about Kiteboarding in the Dominican Republic. Continue reading