About MeA Quick Bio

Over the last 15 years, I have started-up and lead four startups through their lifecycle (bringing two of them to millions in revenue and millions in funding). I am also an innovation consultant, facilitator, speaker, and author. I am the inventor of the "Evergreen" framework, and I have taught, mentored, and incubated hundreds of founders and executives directly and through organizations that include Harvard Business School, Harvard Innovation Labs, and the MIT Sloan School of Management. I currently set up innovation initiatives and teach the Evergreen framework at the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge, where I am also the Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors.

If you are a fan of SHARK TANK, you've likely seen me pitch celebrity investors on TV or might have seen me or my work profiled in hundreds of media outlets around the world - including CNN, FOX, Forbes, TIME, Discovery Channel, INC, Popular Mechanics, Fast Company, WIRED, and many others.

In 2019 My work was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine and named one of the top inventions of 2019. According to TIME my work is "making the world better, smarter and even a bit more fun…changing the way we live, work, play and think about what's possible."

In 2018 I was named a Gold Edison Award winner for innovation and excellence in part for leading my company to be the first to raise over $1 Million with Rewards Crowdfunding ($1.26m raised on Kickstarter) AND $1M+ with Equity Crowdfunding ($1.47m raised on StartEngine)

I am also very proud to have served over two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, where I helped hundreds of people in the developing world live better.

Being the Founder & CEO of multiple successful companies, the inventor of the GeoOrbital wheel, and the Evergreen framework, I have been very fortunate to have a few flirtations with the Media. These folks are much better storytellers than I am, and every once in a while, they make some amazing videos that feature me and my work. I think there is no better way to introduce myself than to share some of those with you.

As Seen on TV CNN's Great Big Story

Great Big Story is a division of CNN that creates micro-documentaries and short films about noteworthy people, projects, fascinating science, and origins of amazing things. The thesis of Great Big Story is to cinematically present to the viewer amazing things from around the world. CNN reached out to me in 2018 and asked I would be open to them doing a documentary about me and the creation and impact of the GeoOrbital wheel. The video that they put together after only a few days of shooting is amazing!

Check out the Great Big Story YouTube channel for amazing cinematic storytelling about the world that we all share.

as seen on TV Shark Tank

ABC’s SHARK TANK needs no introduction. Since it premiered in 2009 it has been the top forum to showcase entrepreneurs and emerging companies. The show features a panel of celebrity investors (the SHARKS) and airs during primetime on one the world's top TV networks, it is often considered a top honor to be selected and aired. Many of the ideas and are cutting-edge and SHARKS pride themselves on providing honest, and often brutal feedback making the show extremely popular and entertaining to watch.

In 2017 was honored to have the opportunity to duke it out on primetime TV with the SHARKS in the TANK – and I think I held my own. Two of the SHARKS ended up buying multiple products form us and Kevin O’Leary and I met up for a while after the show aired and really dove in on the most pressing topics affecting innovation today.

as seen in school Harvard Business School

I am often invited to do a fair amount of work with different university and corporate initiatives that promote entrepreneurship and guide the next generation of creators through the ideation and commercialization process. Most of my classes, lectures, and consulting work happens in classrooms or corporate conference rooms, behind closed doors. Recently, however, Harvard Business School made a series of videos for their graduate school curriculum and allowed me to post them publicly on my website. These videos are accompanied by coursework and an in-depth analysis of how a revolutionary idea and business model grows “in the wild.” My video lectures and case-study cover a variety of “real-world” topics that include getting started with an idea, prototyping, building relationships, building an innovation culture, identifying market needs, negotiating with investors, and many topics in between.
Part 1 - "Reinventing the Wheel–Literally"

Part 2 - "Start with an Idea"

As seen on Award Shows 2018 Edison Awards

The Edison Awards are sometimes referred to as "The Oscars of Innovation" and are given annually in the name of Thomas Edison, one of the best-known inventors in history. The Edison Awards “symbolize the persistence and excellence in innovation …. award winners represent game-changing products, services and excellence and leadership in innovation,” and are judged by a panel of more than 3,000 of the world’s leading executives.

The video that I included was filmed before I was announced as a winner of a Gold Edison Award (the top honor), and beating out several household names for innovation and excellence.

as seen on TVDiscovery Channel

The Discovery Chanel is another household name that is available in 409 million households worldwide. It mainly provides documentary television programming focused primarily on popular science, technology, and history. Amazingly they found my company while we were still completely bootstrapped, and in “stealth mode,” we desperately needed to sell our first Securities and were just starting to present the GeoOrbital wheel to a very select group of investors. Somehow, the Discovery Channel found out about us getting ready to launch and reached-out, asking to be the very first to air us to the world.

Within a week, they had a 7-person video crew at our temporary prototyping space and began filming. This was the first time that we were on TV, and the wheels that you see are very early prototypes that made it through many more iterations before being released to the public. To this day it is a mystery how the Discovery Channel found out about us.

as seen on stage IDE Symposium

The IDE Conference is a celebration of innovation-driven entrepreneurship, which brings together hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, academics, and members of the technology community. The 2018 Conference occurred in Bangkok, Thailand as a collaboration between the MIT Enterprise Forum and the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

I was invited to keynote at the “Think Big Act Small” symposium to talk about invention and how all of us can change the world with our thoughts if we are able to get into the right state of mind. This video is an excerpt of my longer talk about creating a framework for building comfort with your inherent ability to invent.

as seen on the news Local News

Outside of all the national and international overage that has featured me and my work, I am also very proud to have been on the local news a number of times. I am involved with my local community, and, as a matter of philosophy, I always believe in “thinking global, acting local.” Below are just a couple of my favorite videos from local news outlets.
NBC Boston - "Taking a GeoOrbital wheel out for a spin"

ABC Boston - "Company reinvents the wheel"

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What I do

I believe in the type of innovation that can change the world - the type of innovation that doesn't follow a formula - the type that comes from the most unexpected people and places. I believe that innovation is responsible for every idea and product that defines the modern age. I also believe that, at its core, innovation is learned.
Simply put, innovation is a "muscle group" that needs to be pumped to form. And just like when you hit the gym, you need the right methods, equipment, and support to be successful. I believe that almost everyone can go "pro" but, you need to put in the work, develop a routine, and learn how to use the machines AND the free weights.


In essence, that's what I do - I am a pro competitor, I train others, and I set up gyms. This is my process:


01.

Discover

First, a founder identifies market opportunities and whether their solution is innovative and can fit a market need. Important components of this stage are establishing if the idea should be pursued, why it should be pursued right now, and whether the founder is the right person to pursue it.

02.

Develop

Identifying the goal is the next step. Is the innitial goal to build a community, to get users, to effect change, to make a process better, etc...? Making money is a by-product, not a goal - and every start-up is different. Once the goal is identified, the team is built, and the foundation of the innitial product/service is developed.

03.

Enrich

After the core of the innovation is identified and the technical and commercial foundation is laid - it is time to build a house that no one has ever seen before. The house is made from the right product/service, market, culture, and team. This is the step where you add meat to the bones, and its best to add muscle.

04.

Commercialize

Commercialization isn't sales. It is the process of making something available to its intended community. Letting it out in the wild and seeing how people react to it. Whether you are building a movement, software, or selling pizza ovens, the market's feedback is key to understanding your product, sales, and business models.

05.

Fund

The reality is that a startup, like life, requires money and support. As I discuss, in detail, in my book "The Evergreen Startup," access to capital is the top predictor of a startup's success, and the odds are stacked against the average founder. There are dozens of proven tools to get traditional and non-traditional funding and support.

06.

Grow

Once a startup has an established base of offerings, customers, and investors (traditional and non-traditional), the startup can grow. Growing for a startup is the process of exploring new markets, products, team structures, investors, and evolving goals. Making it to this stage is great, but surviving at this stage is a challenge.

Select Recent Projects

Outside of working with startups directly, I have worked with many established organizations in the entrepreneurial ecosystem - within the USA and Internationally. Below is a list of a few of my higher profile engagements over the last few years.
  • All
  • Teaching
  • Speaking
  • Incubating
  • Awards
  • My Startups
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I teach, setup innovation programs, and serve as the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors at the MIT Enterprise Forum (a Massachusetts Institute of Technology initiative, which, for over forty years, has served as one of the world’s leading resources of support for entrepreneurs).

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Over the last few years, I have worked with Harvard Business School on several engagements, the most significant of which was to prepare and perform talks and present materials for a series of online courses on innovation that are being taken by hundreds of thousands of managers worldwide.

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The Evergreen Startup is my book about a philosophically different approach to securing funding and support for early-stage startups. I condensed years of mentoring, lecturing, and trial-and-error into one easy-to-follow framework for getting funded.

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For over six years, I have been heavily involved with the CIC and the Venture Cafe Foundation. I have done everything from running classes and workshops to holding regular office hours for startup founders to moderating and serving on panels of industry leaders. These organizations are world leaders in the innovation economy.

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GeoOrbital is the 4th company in which I am the Founder and CEO. It is my first hardware company, and you might have seen our primary product - an electric bicycle wheel online or riding around the streets near you. With thousands of wheels sold, Millions in funding, and over to 50 million views on social media, the wheel has proved to be popular.

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Cangrade is the 3rd company in which I was the Founder and CEO. It is currently one of the leading providers of AI-Powered Human Resource intelligence. Based on years of research by its team of Harvard University scientists, it became an indispensable tool used by HR professionals al over the world. It is used by multiple fortune 500 companies to make more informed hiring decisions.

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Not only was one of the startups where I was the Founder & CEO, incubated at the Harvard University Innovation Labs (i-lab), but I have since returned several times to advise i-lab staff on programming, run workshops, and conduct talks on topics that range from non-traditional fundraising to got-to-market strategy to pitching. The i-lab is a Harvard resource available to students and faculty who are looking to explore innovation and entrepreneurship. It is world-renowned center-of-excellence for academic innovation incubators.

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Over the last five years, I have taught classes, judged pitch competitions, appeared on expert panels, spoken, and mentored startups with Founder Institute, General Assembly, and Techstars. Having completed the Techstars accelerator with one of the startups where I was the Founder & CEO, I developed a unuique perspective form the point of view of the founder and of the mentor of the for-profit startup incubation experience - with all of its good, bad, and ugly.

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Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (the biggest science museum in Europe in Paris, France), ETH Zurich (a leading science, technology, and engineering university in Zürich, Switzerland), The Mogolia University of Finance and Economics (one of the largest educational institutions of Mongolia), and The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (a leading higher education institution in Bangkok, Thailand), are just a few of the global locations where I have delivered innovation-related keynote adesses and/or led classes and seminars on startup-related topics.

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I have delivered talks, appeared as a subject of a case study, or as a guest speaker at The MIT Sloan School of Management, Boston College Carroll School of Management, and at events organized by the Peace Corps. I have been involved with a number of community organizations over the years, but after my 2+ years of international service, my warmest associations will always be with the Peace Corps.

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In 2018 I was named a Gold Edison Award winner for innovation and excellence. According to the Thomas Edison Foundation - a "panel of more than 3,000 leading business executives including past award winners, academics and leaders in the fields of product development, design, and engineering... recognized Michael Burtov as a true innovator."

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In 2019 My work was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine and named one of the top inventions of 2019. According to TIME my work is "making the world better, smarter and even a bit more fun…changing the way we live, work, play and think about what's possible."

What People Say

I have had the honor to work with many leaders in the innovation ecosystem. Here are some of their thoughts about my work. Check out my LinkedIn profile for more recomendations.

contactGet In Touch

Do you think I can help or want to chat about innovation? Just shoot me a note below or connect with me on LinkedIn .
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Sign up for my newsletterStay In Touch

Once in a while, I send out a newsletter with some thoughts on current startup happenings. I share my insights as someone fighting in the trenches, and since I do a lot of advising, I also invite the startups that I work with to "anonymously" share their thoughts, and often frustrations, with the startup world and eccosystem. What you'll see in my newsletter is a unique perspective from the world of early-stage startups.