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United to End Gender-based Violence: refine+focus supports DAWN’s important message at Diwali Gala

As we juggle the commitments of our chaotic lives, it is often impossible to set aside time to mark special occasions – except for DAWN’s (Direct Action for Women Now) Diwali gala. Though the evening may not have been picked up by the news, it was very near and dear to many hearts as we celebrated a marvellous holiday and a great cause.

Over 100 esteemed guests, dressed elegantly in traditional Indian attire gathered in unison to support the remarkable cause of promoting gender equality on Saturday, the 4th of November at Beech Street Centre, Belmont. With the help of our very own Purnima Thakre, DAWN designed and executed the Diwali fundraising event which featured speeches about social justice awareness, a vegetarian Indian dinner, a short-film screening, a live dance performance of ‘ASMI’ by the Aakrithi ensemble, a networking dinner, and music.

The highlights of the evening included a pledged commitment by many men in the audience to confront sexual violence after an enlightening talk by Comedian activist Ben Atherton-Zemmer, and ‘ASMI’ – a graceful dance performance choreographed by Urmi Samadar – which celebrated many facets of a woman, such as her inner calm, youthful exuberance, strength and wisdom, infusing lyrical and modern dance based on the classical Indian Kathak and Odissi repertoire.

team members and the evening’s speakers, including Geetha Aiyer, Gauri Adelkar, and Dr. Sujatha Warrier, elucidated the organization’s approaches to addressing gender inequality by Addressing Public Attitudes, Training the healers (The HEAL program), and Engaging Men & Boys. Dr. Sujatha Warrier, the evening’s keynote speaker, addressed the essential importance of leveraging American knowledge and experience to help train India’s frontline social workers on victim-centric care and educating the broader public. “In many parts of India, talking about sex is considered taboo (…) and the topic is widely ignored,” Dr. Warrier said, adding that, “ending gender-based violence in India will require social change at the deepest level.”

DAWN recognizes that society’s perpetuation of an unequal distribution of power between men and women is the root cause of gender-based violence in India. To combat this, the organization has funded the creation of a film, ‘
Raising Men’ which highlights the work of one of their partner organizations, MAVA (Men Against Violence and Abuse) on combating sexism in Mumbai through educating young men. The trailer of the film was screened at the event and the film is being used as a teaching tool.

The event’s fundraising efforts were further enhanced by a pledge drive and volunteer sign up activities. The DAWN team gladly shared additional detail with the guests and showed ways to get involved with the organization.

The evening was a remarkable success and the event raised over $15,000. The funds from the evening will help DAWN in India train social workers and organizations that educate young men on gender inequality, as well as set up shelters and helplines for victims, train local police on how to effectively help rape victims, and other efforts to challenge harmful gender-based violence.

Purnima concluded the event by giving thanks to the DAWN board of directors and team, volunteers, the refine+focus team, and the generous contributors. The event was a testament to Diwali as it acknowledged a hope to eradicate the evil behind gender-based violence and illuminate a hopeful path to the future for many.

If you would like to be part of DAWN’s work, you can donate here or sign up to be a volunteer on DAWN’s FB page. Or simply keep in touch to know when the next event occurs!

Curiouser and Curiouser: Insights from our August 2017 Innovation Showcase

While the weather outside is getting colder, the energy in the room at August’s Curiouser and Curiouser event was warmer than ever–there were lots of smiles, laughs, excited hand gestures, and most importantly, great ideas. What better way to end summer than with a gathering of friends and colleagues to inspire one another?


This month’s event brought together avid musicians, project developers, data scientists, poets, and more to share ideas that they were passionate about. From environmental successes to theme park innovation, there was never a lull in the room.


This month’s event followed the same format as June and July’s evenings, with each attendee bringing an idea that excited them and sharing it with the rest of the group in three minutes or less.


If you’re curious about what ideas were shared that night, read on; we’ve recapped them all for you in this list:

  1. Eduardo PujolThis startup that turns Ubers and Lyfts into mobile convenience stores
  2. Sadaf Atarod – A web platform that is revolutionizing the scholarship process by having students perform competitive problem-solving challenges rather than writing essays
  3. Max Osbon – How we can be more productive by focusing on the opposite of what you want to achieve
  4. Vita ShklovskyExploring the DNA of music by finding samples, remixes, and covers of songs
  5. Toria Rainey – How green spaces can benefit our happiness, health, and our economy   
  6. Raghav Balasubramanyam – A “drinkable” hardcover book with purifying paper that can kill nearly 100 percent of disease-causing bacteria
  7. Purnima Thakre – The future of theme park and resort entertainment is here with Disney’s Star Wars themed park, Galaxy’s Edge
  8. Shirin Mojarad – A web based learning software that uses artificial intelligence to prepare individualized learning plans
  9. Zach BraikerAdvanced artificial intelligence that can not only think and act like humans, but can also detect and react to human emotions
  10. Steven Biondolillo – How the advent of book-club style poetry groups can restore our culture’s diminishing empathy
  11. Jorge Sanabria – The world’s first machine learning and real time tracking solution for grocery stores to offer customers dynamic pricing based on product expiration date
  12. Mack AscanioA music app that automatically seamlessly mixes your songs the way a DJ would
  13. Crista Núñez – The surprisingly romantic beauty of underwater crop circles
  14. Joanne Markow – Digital Death: exploring ancient ruins without digging, video tombstones, QR code graves, and other interactive memorials
  15. Mayato HattoriShooting stars on demand for celebrations
  16. Daniel Goez – The new paradigm of Smart Contracts through BlockChain


As an added bonus, we opened the floor to Curiouser participants for a rapid-fire round of sharing things that everyone should read, watch, listen to, or do. Here are their suggestions.





  • Get lost in a museum
  • Eat lots of lobster
  • Give thanks to the world
  • Tell the people you love that you love them
  • Get lost in the forest
  • Go to Vegas
  • Get a helicopter license
  • Experience a Glacier
  • Wear Fivefingers shoes like Zach
  • Take the architectural foundation tour in Chicago
  • Send a handwritten note
  • Try Flyboarding
  • Try the trapeze
  • Go to Rockport before winter


We’ll be announcing next month’s event in the near future, so keep an eye out if you’d like to be a part of these inspiring evenings.

Did any of the ideas you read spark a new one within you? Do you have ideas of your own you want to share? If you’re a curious person and interested in attending our future “Curiouser and Curiouser” events, feel free to send us a message at

Cover photo credit by Hans-Peter Gauster

Curiouser and Curiouser: Insights from our June 2017 Innovation Showcase

Our third iteration of the “Curiouser and Curiouser” innovation showcase was all about connections. Each attendee came with an idea, and left with new and multiple contacts.



With perhaps our most diverse group of attendees yet, June’s “Curiouser and Curiouser” event introduced biotech entrepreneurs to professional visual artists, nonprofit leaders to business school Deans, and more. Amidst a backdrop of light jazz music, attendees were introducing themselves, conversing, and learning from one another even before the sharing officially began.


This month’s event followed the same format as April and May’s evenings, with each attendee bringing an idea that excited them and sharing it with the rest of the group in three minutes or less.


If you’re curious about what ideas were shared that night, read on; we’ve recapped them all for you in this list:

  1. Zach Braiker – Predicting the future by looking into the past
  2. Joshua Redstone – a more accurate measuring cup designed with thought and purpose
  3. Sven Karlsson – a method of manufacturing platelets from stem cells
  4. Marlon Forrester – using the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway as an active space, engaging large audiences with interactive art installations
  5. Jorge Sanabria Wireless energy is growing in commercial viability
  6. Greg Harris – Raymond Carver’s Cathedral come to life in an iPhone app that connects blind people to sighted volunteers
  7. Laura Teicher – Urban curbside compost would be worth the cost  
  8. Toria Rainey – a playground in Lexington, MA, devoid of function and dedicated to imagination
  9. Henrik Totterman – A one-stop solution for business management software
  10. Nikin Tharan – Device sensors that allow predictive actions for at-home surgical drain management
  11. Eduardo Pujol – The sport of the future doesn’t have a ball, a stick, or a field
  12. Purnima Thakre – The Airbnb of home cooking
  13. Megha Dahiya – A cutting board for perfectionist chefs of all skill levels
  14. Daniel Goez – The distributed database that lets you build smarter contracts  
  15. Sadaf Atarod Edible water bubble that eliminates plastic bottles altogether



In addition to the idea Zach Braiker shared about predicting the future by looking to the past, he implored the room to give their own predictions about something that would be true in or by the year 2080. Here’s what we came up with:

In 2080…

  • “You’ll be able to pick your facial features.” – Zach
  • “There will be a permanent colony on mars.” – Sven
  • “You’ll be able to choose your skin color, including bioluminescent skin tones.” – Marlon
  • “The average worldwide IQ will decrease.” – Jorge
  • “The world will operate with a barter system because production of goods will become entirely automated.” – Greg
  • “Clothes will just be holograms, because they’re more sustainable to project than to make.” – Laura
  • “Coding will be taught in the American public elementary school system.” – Toria
  • “The innovation hub of the world will move to Africa.” – Nikin
  • “The edible water bubble idea will be feasible and commonplace.” – Eduardo
  • “We will be able to transport ourselves the Star-Trek way, through dematerialization and rematerialization.” – Purnima
  • “Traffic jams will be present not only on earth’s highways, but in the air and in space.” – Megha
  • “Social media won’t exist.” – Sadaf



We’ll be announcing next month’s event in the near future, so keep an eye out if you’d like to be a part of these inspiring evenings.

Did any of the ideas you read spark a new one within you? Do you have ideas of your own you want to share? If you’re a curious person and interested in attending our future “Curiouser and Curiouser” events, feel free to send us a message at


Cover photo credits: Ewan Robertson

Getting Ahead: Learning 2017 Internet Trends

It’s the beginning of summer, and many professionals in the marketing industry know what that means; it’s time for Mary Meeker’s annual internet trends report.

Some skim this report, some read “best-of” articles and summaries, and some painstakingly go through the 355-slide deck in detail. At refine+focus, we decided to tackle the report a little bit differently. We divvied up the content and assigned one member of our team to each section. After reading and taking notes on our section, we came together and each shared a five-minute summary of the things that interested us the most. That’s what we’re bringing to you.

This year’s report is a 355-slide deck that covers a wide array of topics, like gaming, commerce, China’s internet trends, India’s internet trends, healthcare, and the cloud.

Slide #9 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker

Zach Braiker covered trends in online advertising. The growth rate of the internet is about 10 a year, with currently 3.6 billion users. Those 3.6 billion spend 5.6 hours a day on the internet. This shift has allowed advertising to shift from television to internet ads (especially mobile internet) in the form of contextual ads on Facebook, targeted pins on Pinterest, and product listing ads on Google.

Toria Rainey and Daniel Goez focused on gaming trends. Generation X and Millenials were born into a world with gaming technology in place. While this gaming-oriented-mindset is new, it does have its benefits; gaming foreshadows the next 3-5 years of technological advancements, helps develop valuable work ethic and skills, and primes society for human-computer interaction. In short, gaming is making us better at what we do.

Slide #114 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker


Eduardo Pujol spoke about trends related to the cloud. A breakdown of the labor in cloud services revealed that the number of developers remained more or less the same, if not decreasing. Designers, on the other hand, have been hired in larger volumes. This change in designer to developer ratio implies a newfound importance being placed on design.

Slide #188 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker


Jorge Sanabria covered the booming internet in China. Ranking first in video game revenue worldwide, China is leading the charge in focusing more on social interaction in their technology, especially in entertainment. In addition to this golden age of entertainment, China is experiencing healthy internet user growth, setting the bar high for making innovation mainstream.

Slide #206 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker


Purnima Thakre focused on the ever-growing internet in India. With highest young population in the world (with 250 million students enrolled in school grades K-12), India is expected to have the most citizens in the peak working age around 2020-2050. With 64% of the population and 72% of the internet users under 35, India’s internet competition continues to intensify, allowing consumers to profit.

Slide #233 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker


Slide #268 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker


Megha Dahiya spoke about healthcare and macroeconomics in the US. With the digitization of healthcare, including digital and wearable health technology, health care delivery could be changing with more consumer engagement and faster innovation cycles.

Slide #289 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker


After we covered everything in the report, we had a brief reflection that spawned some fascinating questions to consider:

  • How do we place relevant ads without them being annoying? How do we master nonintrusive marketing?
  • How will Boston, a city known for its innovations in healthcare, change the healthcare industry?
  • What implications will the rising young population in India have on innovation, both nationally and globally?
  • Are people placing more emphasis on design rather than development because we’re becoming more and more comfortable with technology?
  • How can we modify existing services in an era of building revue from gamification without making them feel like gaming incentives?


Access the full 355-slide report here, or watch Mary Meeker give this year’s report at the Code Conference here.

Curiouser and Curiouser: Insights from our Innovation Showcase

We believe that curiosity is an antidote to prevent obsoleteness and stale growth. We believe it so hard that we made curiosity part of our corporate culture, and our daily projects.

Every week we attend events in marketing, science, innovation, creativity, design and investing. We love exploring the subject matter and enjoy sharing with attendees before and after each event. These sessions lead us to discover new relationships, insights, projects and ideas. We know this wouldn’t be possible without Boston’s growing innovation ecosystem, therefore we decided to contribute and the city calendar through a new group initiative.

We launched a new event.  

Earlier this month we launched a space to share and to celebrate the people and ideas we encounter, especially those related to innovation. Using curiosity as a theme, and show&tell as the format, we invited 17 scholars, scientists, investors, professionals and students to join us at an event in our office called: “Curiouser & Curiouser: a casual evening of ideas & innovation.

How it worked.

The ticket fee for each attendee was to bring at least one idea to share with the rest of the group. This idea must matter to them and could be an article, product, initiative, concept, video, website, trend, side project or company.

Each attendee had up to five minutes to share and discuss their idea(s), making for around 90min of innovation-filled conversations. This format was inspired by Thursday’s at Berkman, a group that met at Harvard’s Berkman School to share ideas related to technology and civic life back in the early 2000s.

What we discovered.

If you are curious to know what the attendees shared, we included the highlights of the night below:

1. Zach Braiker – How to save the planet with 5-minute showers

Offices by day, restaurants by night, the new coworking trend.

Digital immortality: the idea that our brain’s can be transferred into computers

Exclusive funding opportunities for startups developing Life OS

2. Larry Yu – Commit to one civic act per day, document and enjoy the impact

3. Joanne Markow – Your next piece of jewellery might come from a 3D printer

Must-read book, if you want to be a better leader

4. Purnima Thakre – Ironically, the best TV show on Netflix is about technology addiction

Your next smartphone should be dumber than ever, for peace’s sake

5. Greg Harris – Remain connected to peers through music, a story of an impromptu, local Steely Dan cover band

6. Gati Dharani – How healthcare is evolving through human factors innovation

7. Mike O’Neill – Meet a local community that generates and consumes its own renewable energy

8. Nupura BhiseThis app helps people go through the opioid addiction recovery process

9. Juan Montezco – Support organization for teens with HIV

10. Tom Dodge – What if there was a meetup for videographers + vote for ideas to produce?

11. Steele Divitto – The future of medicine lays on real-time analytics:

12. Sadaf Atarod – What if there was a house-sharing app for scientists and by scientists?

13. Christian Magel – How often do you go out for dinner with your neighbors?

14. Amélie Wauters – Bookmark this site, for state-of-the-art innovation and nanotechnology news

15. Albin Anthony – A must-read innovation blog by Tim Urban

16. Alyssa Nugent – Never again run out of battery, neither style with this smart bag

Ford makes it easier for your baby to have sweet dreams

17. Eduardo Pujol – Don’t carry your carry-on, ride it instead.

An Invitation to Join Us.

Which of these ideas sound more exciting to you? Which of these had you never heard before? We are honored that so many people shared ideas that matter to them, and that through sharing, we’ve developed a trusted community eager to support and collaborate with one another’s initiatives and interests.

That night 17 people walked into our meeting room with at least one idea in their minds. A few hours later, the same 17 people left the room with 20+ new ideas each. If you’re a curious person and interested in attending our future Curiouser and Curiouser events, please send us a message at

Switching to Consulting Career: What Can You Do About Yourself?

Coming from another career, switching to consulting can raise a whole set of problems. The external seem evident—dealing with case studies, knowing the right firms, etc—but internal factors cannot be underestimated. Purnima Travedi, a former architect with an MBA and Masters of Finance from Hult International Business College, boiled down these internal factors into five digestible “Obstacles,” during a speech (well, more of a discussion, given the energetic audience participation) at her alma mater’s Consulting Club.

“Where do you start?” she asked the room of aspiring consultants, “be your own consultant.” That is, think of your life as your case study; define your current station in life as an SCQ: situation, where are you in life right now; complication, what obstacles do you face; question, where do you go from here? Analyzing your internal processes as a consultant is a clever bit of method acting, and Purnima sold the room of Hult students on the concept through an involved debate.

Within the same “be your own consultant” mindset, Purnima hit her next major point: Figure out where you fit in the world. With the same SCQ approach, the Hult students engaged themselves in the thought exercise and determined what industry best suited their situation, talents, personality, and passion.

But the golden insight of the night—and a lesson worthwhile to just about everybody—was to simply stop trying too hard. To overcome Purnima’s fourth major obstacle, “Networking,” she suggested the tried-and-true approach of relaxing and simply being a good, friendly person. When you meet someone to network, don’t just sell yourself. Have a conversation, loosen up, tell a couple of jokes. “Become a nicer person,” she said, “stop selling so hard.” It is a lot easier to forge a relationship based on genuine understanding than an impersonal pitch.

Truthfully, there is no magic wand that one can wave to solve these problems. To solve problems this personal, deeply personal solutions are required.

But it can also be said that the root of all these obstacles is a need for flexibility and sharp adaptation to both external forces and internal roadblocks. If step one, as Purnima says, is to embody consulting, inside and out, then the Hult Consulting Club now has a leg up on the competition. And if you want to get on their level, too, check out Purnima’s entire presentation on slideshare

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