An important aspect of The Big C Competition is the opportunity to approach this Social Innovation Challenge from multiple perspectives. In our first profile, Alanna detailed how her Cahootshare website could change the cancer experience through community participation. In this edition, Ben talks about their product, the Gentoo Vest, and its impact to the individual as they go through treatment.
- by Ben Nadeau
One of our goals with the design of the Gentoo Vest was to give people the ability to remain active during their treatment without the infusion equipment getting in the way. The opening of the LIVESTRONG manifesto is, “We believe in life. Your life. We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.” That hits right at the heart of what we’re trying to do with the Gentoo Vest and every future product of Gentoo, Inc. Being active is something you should be able to do even when you’re going through treatment. When we found out about The Big C it seemed like a great opportunity to work with the LIVESTRONG Foundation and help change the lives of many patients.
It seems to be an unfortunate fact that everyone knows someone who has battled cancer. For me I have seen friends and family battle cancer but the most impactful was my girlfriend’s mother. In our first year of college I witnessed her journey and how cancer can drastically change someone’s life negatively.
For my co-founder Greg it was both of his grandmothers, his uncle, and several close family friends. We watched several of our loved ones struggle with outpatient infusions and felt there had to be a better way to manage the equipment than a cumbersome shoulder bag.
In the Fall of 2012 our school, Wentworth Institute of Technology, held a Startup Challenge. We were posed with the idea of changing the way outpatient infusion equipment was handled. They held a pitch fest towards the end of the semester, which we were fortunate to win, and we were given a small grant to continue our research and development. A few months later the Gentoo Vest was born.
Competitions like The Big C are incredibly important to innovation. So many people have ideas they’re trying to get out there but they’re afraid to because they don’t have experience starting a business. Competitions provide a safe environment to ask questions, grow a business, and take it to the next level. I know that without the motivation of competitions we would not be here today. Accelerate gave us the funding to further our prototype. Becoming a finalist in MassChallenge allowed us to go beyond creating a product and establish a business. And we think The Bic C Competition is just the thing we need to get to the next level!
Cancer is so big, but the fight against it is bigger. Gentoo represents a goal to change the way medical devices and accessories are approached. Winning The Big C Competition would mean that a small team – Gentoo Inc. – with a great product can succeed and allow us to continue to make even more patient-focused products. We want to allow patients to get the treatments they need with the freedom they deserve, and that would be the biggest accomplishment we could ever achieve.
The Big C Competition seeks tangible innovations from entrepreneurs, trailblazers, technology wizzes, fashionistas, medical geeks, game changers, cancer patients and their loved ones – anyone with an audacious piece of technology, product, service or other innovation. The only requirement is that it helps those facing cancer today.
To make all of this happen, we need YOUR help. If you’d like to be an entry-round judge, you could review Big C entries and fill out an online scorecard for each. During a two-week period from May 16-28, entry round judging will only take 2-3 hours total of your time and can be done from any computer, anywhere.
Apply here to become an entry-round judge for the Big C Competition: http://bigc.livestrong.org/forms/entry_round_judge - thanks!