Skip to Content
MIT News feature

Startup Central

Bettina Hein, Founder and CEO, Pixability

Growing up in a small town in the industrial heart of Germany, Bettina Hein, SM ’07, always wanted to be an engineer. “But in Europe it was not something a girl would do,” she says. So Hein went into business instead. All four of her grandparents had been entrepreneurs; she followed in their footsteps, studying business at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

It was in Switzerland that she met the founders of the text-to-speech company SVOX. She signed on as CFO/COO in 2001, and over the next five years she raised $8 million to help put SVOX technology in cars from Audis to Volkswagens. For her second act, Hein became a Sloan Fellow at MIT—where she was finally able to take engineering classes—and conceived the idea for her new company, Pixability.

“I saw what was happening in video … with the cost of bandwidth, editing, and equipment all going down, and the amount of content going up,” says Hein. “I saw an opportunity.” She founded a company at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) and started developing software to place advertising on ­YouTube for brands including L’Oreal and Puma.

“I didn’t know anyone when I came here, and I found people who were willing to listen and support me and put up money for my ideas,” she says. Most important, she found people like her. “I didn’t know a single female tech entrepreneur in the whole country of Switzerland,” she says. Here, she bumped into them wherever she went. “Boston is Disneyland for female entrepreneurs,” she says. To capitalize on that, she founded a networking group for female CEOs, called SheEOs, whose members include Care.com’s Sheila ­Marcelo and the Startup Institute’s Diane Hessan.

When her company grew too big for CIC but still couldn’t afford its own space in Kendall Square, Hein reluctantly moved across the river to Boston’s North End. She still lives in the neighborhood, though, and drops her daughter off at day care in the Genzyme building on her way to work, glad to remain connected to Kendall’s “whole community of people doing awesome stuff.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.