MassChallenge Startups Took Home $1.5 Million Last Night

With appearances from the governor, the mayor, and the CEO of DraftKings.

Six Foods cofounder Rose Wang makes her pitch at the awards ceremony. / Photo by Madeline Bilis

Six Foods cofounder Rose Wang makes a pitch at the awards ceremony. / Photo by Madeline Bilis

Jumbo checks were awarded to 16 budding companies on Wednesday evening at the sixth annual MassChallenge awards.

The award ceremony is the yearly culminating event for the startup accelerator, following a four month-long program that helps entrepreneurs get their companies off the ground with support, space, and other resources. A total of $1.5 million in grants was doled out to top finalists.

“I look at MassChallenge and I see the core of what makes Massachusetts special,” Gov. Charlie Baker told the room of almost 1,500 attendees, “Wicked smart people.”

Winning companies included Six Foods, a snack-maker seeking to normalize bugs as an ingredient, AquaFresco, a developer of new laundry technology that regenerates waste water, and Hydroswarm, which describes itself as “the Google maps for underwater,” using small robots to revolutionize maritime commerce and security.

Mayor Walsh told the crowd he’s shooting to be the number one city for women entrepreneurs. Citing Women Entrepreneurs Boston (WE BOS) and newly-launched startup community portal, he prided the city’s work in entrepreneurshipand congratulated the winners, of course.

“Startups come out of MassChallenge with a piece of Boston in their soul,” he said.

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins joked he was nervous about speaking, but reasoned it was actually the most relaxing experience he’s had in the last few weeks. His company is a massive fantasy sports contest operator, and the industry has been under intense scrutiny as of late because of insider trading allegations.

He spoke of his opposition toward moving his company out west, saying he’d pit Boston’s talent against West Coast talent any day.

“My most important driver is to build something great in Boston,” said Robins.

You can see the full list of winners at