MIT, Sloan School of Management
Industry: Government, Security, Enterprise Software
Founding Student Name(s): Matthew White, co-founder and CEO (MIT Sloan MBA ’22); Akihiko Izu, co-founder (MIT Sloan MBA ’22)
Brief Description of Solution: Multitude Insights is building BLTN, an AI-powered collaboration and data sharing tool for law enforcement. Police use BLTN to share information on everything from stolen bikes on MIT’s campus to violent crime in the suburbs.
Funding Dollars: $600,000 to date. Currently raising Seed round.
What led you to launch this venture? As a former military officer, Matthew’s professional life has been devoted to service. He says: “I left the military because I wanted to build companies that could serve the country in bigger ways, beyond what I could do as an individual in uniform. Multitude Insights is the culmination of this effort. Since 2020, I knew that policing as an industry was vastly underserved. Police had the newest guns and cars but didn’t have simple tools for sharing information or collaborating on cases. Their most advanced tools for fighting crime were Microsoft Outlook and Excel. Perhaps, if officers could spend less time behind their desks with limited software, they could spend more time out in the community. If they spent more time in the community, perhaps they could understand those they serve in more compassionate ways, and we could lower the temperature on engagements with law enforcement.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Our biggest accomplishment has been putting together our development team and bringing our product into existence all the way from a slideshow to working tool. My co-founder and I spent a lot of time finding engineers who had the right balance of engineer skills, mission orientation, and dedication to the product. Once the team was in place, we worked extremely hard alongside our police partners, testing which capabilities and features needed to be in place for BLTN to “just work.” We’ve learned a lot along the way (pivots, employee movements, etc.), but I feel like our team has done an amazing job during this process.
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? MIT’s motto is “mens et manus”, which translates from Latin to “mind and hand.” The Sloan school’s emphasis on entrepreneurship is, perhaps, the ultimate expression of this. Courses on entrepreneurial sales, team formation, venture scaling and venture finance made up my course work. Combined with the rich accelerator programs at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, my MBA super-powered my entrepreneurial journey. I came to MIT with the goal of starting this company, and I feel like the program really gave me a huge head start.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? My mentor and former boss, Garrett Smith, is the CEO of Reveal Technology. He was foundational in my decision to start Multitude Insights. Like me, Garrett is a former military officer. I felt like we brought similar skillsets to the table, though he was a few years further along than me. Watching the way he led sales calls, technical team meetings, and strategy sessions was inspiring. His ability to move quickly through the gamut of tasks a daily entrepreneur must tackle was impressive. He showed me that if you have the drive and desire to build the skills, you can be a successful entrepreneur. Garrett also helped me develop as a business thinker and showed how to position a young company for success.
Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? 15.394 Entrepreneur Founding and Teams taught by Kit Hickey, Senior Lecturer and Entrepreneur in Residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. This course dealt with many issues that founders in early-stage ventures face such as equity discussions, founder departures, and early employee HR issues, among many more. The lessons learned in this class’s discussions and case studies have paid more dividends than any finance course I took.
What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? The faculty members that made the biggest impact on me were the Entrepreneurs in Residence at the Martin Trust Center. Having access to Jenny Larios Berlin, Susan Neal and George Whitfield, along with the Trust Center’s Executive Director Paul Cheek, really helped professionalize our young startup. This translated into our startup looking better, and we were able to negotiate stronger, and had better information. Their impact outside of the classroom has been a huge contributor to Multitude Insight’s success.
How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? The Boston/Cambridge startup ecosystem is an absolutely electric place to found a company. The confluence of amazing academic institutions, a DEEP bench of talent with startup experience, and the sheer proximity of other startups forced us to really work at developing a solid idea and business plan. Boston is a great place to start a company.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? Our goal is to build a company worthy of our communities. Multitude Insights works with a part of society that many don’t understand, and some revile. We will succeed by enabling our clients to protect and serve the communities that we live in. This means that we only deploy ethical AI tools; it means that we thoroughly test our data products before they’re released, and that we have a cultural appetite for questioning what products we build. Just because we can build something doesn’t mean that Multitude Insights will.
DON’T MISS: MEET ALL OUR MBA DISRUPTORS OF 2022 or WANTED: STUDENT START-UP IDEAS TO COMPETE FOR A $50K CASH PRIZE IN OLIN BUSINESS SCHOOL’S BIG IDEABOUNCE® ELEVATOR PITCH CONTEST
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.