January 24, 2022 (Cambridge, MA) — The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship announced today that Optimus Ride co-founder and COO, Jenny Larios Berlin, has joined as its newest Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Earlier this month, Optimus Ride was acquired by Magna (NYSE:MGA; TSX:MG), a global innovator in mobility technology and best known as one of the world’s largest suppliers in the automotive space.
“We are extremely excited to welcome back a beloved member of our community to a full–time position at our center,” said Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the Trust Center. “Jenny’s leadership skills are extraordinary, as are her abilities to execute and get things done. The students who have interacted with her couldn’t say enough good things, and now many more will be able to get this access and mentorship moving forward. I am confident she will have a profound impact, especially in important areas like mobility, sustainability, and policy.”
In addition to her 6+ years building Optimus Ride, Larios Berlin also co-founded limeSHIFT, a socially-driven creative agency, working at the intersection of business, community, and art. She has been a frequent speaker at MIT and valued mentor to MIT students and beyond.
“I am thrilled to be joining the center to reflect on all that I have learned over the past six plus years and give back to the students,” said Larios Berlin on the appointment. “I have always loved the MIT community and admired the work the Trust Center does. I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves to help build the next generation of innovation-driven entrepreneurs – and expand my perspective as well. So much more work needs to be done to deal with the intractable challenges that face us as a society and I look forward to working with the community to start to address them.”
Her most recent company, Optimus Ride, was founded in 2015 as an autonomous vehicle (AV) spin out from MIT that enables safe, sustainable, and equitable mobility access. By the time it was acquired by Magna, it had raised over $75M including top tier venture capitalists and employed well over 150 high-quality jobs.
In 2017, Optimus Ride began testing its vehicles on the streets of Boston with early MassDOT AV approval. The next year it launched its inaugural pilot program for residential community mobility at Union Point in Weymouth, MA. By 2019 the company was scaling its deployment operations to service communities in California, Washington, DC, Virginia, and New York. In 2020, in response to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Optimus Ride repurposed its fleets to deliver over 6,000 free meals to those in need in Washington, DC. The company was positively received by the press as well including a feature article in MIT Technology Review.
Larios Berlin will immediately start working with the Trust Center’s EIRs to:
- coach students;
- design, update, and run co-curricular programs;
- teach in the classroom;
- interface with alumni;
- provide an external interface for the center;
- work with industrial partners;
- create reusable educational content, and
- generate and execute on new ideas in other “TBD” areas that continue to support making the Trust Center an innovative leader in the field of entrepreneurship education.
She follows in the rich legacy of past Trust Center EIRs like Elliot Cohen (co-founder of PillPack), Donna Levin (co-founder of Care.com & current CEO, Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership – Babson College), Kit Hickey (co-founder of Ministry of Supply), Elaine Chen (founder of ConceptSpring & current director, Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts).