Sunday, August 21, 2016

Slow Saturday Special: True GRIT at MIT

Just wheeling through....

"Showing true GRIT" by Hae Young Yoo Globe Correspondent  August 20, 2016

They run a company called GRIT, for Global Research Innovation and Technology, as a so-called social enterprise, meaning they are pursuing a social mission like a nonprofit does, but can still make money.

Dubbed the Freedom Chair, most of the 2,000 wheelchairs are a $250 version that have been distributed in Haiti, Tanzania, India, Guinea, Nepal, and Easter Island with the help of organizations such as the Red Cross and World Bank.

The wheelchairs operate on a chain system similar to a bike’s, although instead of pedals, riders push a pair of long levers using their hands. Chief executive Tish Scolnik and professor Amos Winter, along with classmates and cofounders Mario Bollini and Ben Judge, had the idea after studying research on biomechanics from the US Air Force that showed the bench press motion is very efficient and makes good use of upper body muscles.

The chairs have mountain bike tires almost twice as wide as standard wheelchair tires and a rubber front wheel to absorb shock and distribute weight. They are designed to cruise on terrain from sandy beaches, to grassy fields and hiking trails. The entire wheelchair is even made of bike parts, so owners can get them repaired at any bike shop.

The US version of the Freedom Chair retails for $2,995, and GRIT estimates it has 175 riders using it around the country.

The summer after her freshman year, Scolnik and several classmates traveled to East Africa for an MIT fellowship and saw firsthand how difficult it was for people who couldn’t walk to get around.

When they decided to start GRIT in 2012, they settled on having a social goal as central to the company. That means they don’t run the business to maximize profits, like a typical for-profit.

About 6 percent of startups in the United States are social enterprise companies, according to a report in June from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a consortium that includes Babson College.

For-profit social enterprises can accept money from nonprofit foundations if their missions line up, but most raise private equity like any other startup.

In its first year, GRIT won a $100,000 prize from MassChallenge, and two years later raised $80,000 from a Kickstarter campaign. Its also won $400,000 from the United States–India Science & Technology Endowment Fund. And in an endorsement of its business potential, GRIT has raised $650,000 from a number of angel investors in the Boston area.

As she pushes GRIT to get bigger, Scolnik also wants to see her company’s chairs in the hands of more veterans....

Sort of an incentive to keep the wars going, 'eh?



"Even Wall Street workers are unhappy with how their retirement plans are run. A participant in Morgan Stanley’s 401(k) plan filed a lawsuit Friday in US District Court in New York alleging that it offers investment options that have too-high fees and poor track records, including some mutual funds run by Morgan Stanley itself. The suit accuses the $8 billion plan of causing ‘‘hundreds of millions of dollars’’ in losses for its roughly 60,000 participants. Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the lawsuit. Friday’s suit is the latest in a lengthening string of complaints about high fees and poor investment choices at 401(k) and 403(b) retirement plans around the country. Franklin Templeton’s 401(k) plan was hit with a similar suit last month, for example. Participants filed suits against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, and Yale University earlier this month."

Also seeFidelity Charitable chief steps down 

I know at bottom there is a link between the two.


"In the aftermath of the financial crisis, a growing army of confidential informants — better known as whistle-blowers — has helped federal securities regulators identify and prosecute wrongdoers. Now the same thing is happening at the state level: Securities regulators in Indiana and Utah are enlisting the aid of these informants to enforce their own fraud statutes and protect residents from financial harm. And the whistle-blowers are reaping rewards. On Aug. 19, for example, an informant was awarded $95,000 for helping Indiana securities regulators bring an enforcement action against JPMorgan Chase for failing to disclose certain conflicts of interest to clients about the way the bank invested their money. The monetary award was the first given under that state’s whistle-blower program aimed at securities law violators. The informant supplied information about improprieties in JPMorgan Chase’s asset management unit, including its practice of steering clients to in-house funds that carried higher costs or generated greater fees to the bank."

Depends on which whistle you blow, for Obummer has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined. Never see much of that in my pre$$.

Then there are the FBI instigators, 'er, informants setting up pathetic patsies and plots. 

Makes you grit your teeth....