, Founder Stories
03 September 2015

Finalist Interview Series: AutismSees

Give me the elevator pitch on your company:

AutismSees gets more young people with ASD employed. Our mission is to create engaging technology solutions based on research for increasing communication skills.

Tell me a little bit about your background: what did you do previously?

In high school I worked on a senior project teaching 5th grade girls LEGO Robotics and the beginning of programming skills. I tied the curriculum to occupational therapy and assistive technology with a partnership at the Medical University of SC and Tufts Center for Engineering Education. It was the first computer science after school programming at my school, which was K-12.

At Tufts, I started working on AutismSees as a side project to tie research in child development, engineering, and neuroscience to a major. I have let AutismSees be an outlet for creative energy and personal / professional growth throughout college.

What does entrepreneurship mean to you? How did you first get involved?

Entrepreneurship means that you take your life, knowledge, actions, talent, and work towards a cause, product, idea, or service. You have to have conviction for your work and for bettering yourself in order to better the world around you. First you have to see a need that exists within society, establish a solution that fits into the workflow of the present and future, and then create systems to implement solutions by marshaling people and resources together in the appropriate fashion. I compare entrepreneurs to artists or architects of the future. I was in a social entrepreneurial fellowship called Compass Fellows at Tufts University. This is how I fell in love with social impact, nonprofit organization, and leadership development in small business.

Where/when did you have that a-ha! moment for envisioning AutismSees?

There really was not an a-ha moment but a series of moments in which I knew I needed to continue to work on the project-turned-business. Some moments included research (gaps in the literature), meeting teammates at correct times, finding opportunities when I thought there was nothing really left to pursue, and contact from customers with ideas for features or passionate requests for the software.

Some people say that the man of the hour is successful. He might tell you that his hour was actually the longest hour of his life. What I mean by this is that the outcome people look at is the product of a series of thoughts, words, and actions taken each day in a new direction.

What is the pain point youre hoping to solve with AutismSees?

Fear of socializing, eye contact, or presenting ideas, which contributes to unemployment for young adults with higher cognitive ASD.

Why MassChallenge and what are your goals while being involved in the accelerator?

Mass Challenge provided an opportunity to have the support, structure, office space, and mentorship to achieve my main goals: product launch, legal paperwork and marks secured, team development and implementation of the product into a robust program for employment or presentation prep for youth with ASD.

What is your greatest strength as an entrepreneur? Weakness?

Greatest strength: need to self-improve (can also be a weakness at times because it leads to self doubt). Another strength I have is the ability to listen to a lot of viewpoints and pieces of advice, take them in, and use aspects of new knowledge toward bettering what I do on a day-to-day basis.

Weakness: Computer-programming skillswish I could increase communication, systemization, and productivity (time management) through programming. I take too many hand-written notes. I often read 2-3 books at a time and have like 2 or 3 different journals.

Organization.

What do you do to blow off steam when youre taking a break from changing the world?

Haha. Well since Im in college I go out with my friends a lot probably too much for what I do. I love to dance. I also love hiking, sailing, and singing. This semester I signed up to a take a rock-climbing course for 3 hours each week. Basically I fit in time to not think about AutismSees. I also like to sleep and read occasionally. ?

Whats one quality that you think entrepreneurs need to have -- and why?

Depends on the business or organization they are working to build. However, for social impact: high emotional IQ. Also: endurance, flexibility, open-mindedness, and quiet confidence.

What aspect of the accelerator have you enjoyed best thus far? Events like the Startup Showcase? Deep Dive Days? Mentors & Office Hours?

The people. Includes: staff, interns, mentors and other entrepreneurs. Fascinating personality types and positive energy.

I hear youre about to launch a Kickstarter campaign--tell me more!

WE ARE!! Our goal is $30,000 to offset legal expenses and development costs. We are putting $5,000 towards the Boston Medical Centers Peer Mentorship program and to our teammate Alix Generous, who wants to build a peer mentorship curriculum for AutismSees so she can be a virtual mentor for young adults with higher cognitive ASD.

PLEASE HELP US MARKET THIS SO IT GOES VIRAL!

We are looking to raise 1/3 of our goal in the first 5 days of the launch! Keep an eye out for a Facebook calendar invite to the pre-launch campaign next week.

Mission

Our mission is to equip bold entrepreneurs to disrupt the status quo and to create meaningful change.