Monthly Archives: May 2017
For a few minutes, there was a post here on the blog complaining about Verizon Wireless customer service difficulties. Then my Tweet was responded to by Verizon customer service, so I took the post down – I reclassified the post from “posted” to “pending” – while I exchanged private messages on Twitter with Verizon’s customer service account. Very quickly and courteously, my problem was completely and satisfactorily resolved.
So the initial post detailing Verizon Wireless’ failings has been replaced with this post. When in-person customer service makes a mistake and over-the-phone customer services claims an inability to fix it, indeed, monitoring social media and responding quickly is a brand’s last line of defense. Tonight, Verizon Wireless’ last line of defense was up to the task.
Mass Innovation Nights 98
May 10, 2017
For a second consecutive night, I attended a technology startup event in the western Boston suburbs. I’ve been to a few Mass Innovation Nights in the last couple years, and they always showcase some intriguing local startups. This month’s Mass Innovation Night was IoT and Robotics themed, featuring local startups related to the Internet of Things and Robotics.
Mass Innovation Nights 98: MITRE in Bedford, MA
Every month, Mass Innovation Nights features presentations from the host and “Student Spotlight” companies, the “Expert Corner” experts and exhibitors who win a pre-event vote on the Mass Innovation Nights website. Presenters as a result of the pre-event voting were blink’r, WatchRx, Cimetrics, and Powerhouse Dynamics’ SiteSage Smart Kitchen. Student Startup Spotlight representatives were from Bentley University, representing their companies Sales Sparks and SooShay. Awards were also given based on at-event voting. At-event winners were WatchRx, Tive, Blustream, and Andros Robotics.
I’ll take a quick run through the companies in attendance; you can follow the links for more information about them.
WatchRx: I also saw this company at the Boston New Technology showcase the previous evening. Its product is a smartwatch that helps the elderly remember to take their medication on time, monitored by family via a smartphone app.
Senter: Senter was the other showcasing company geared toward elderly healthcare. It focuses on placing sensor technology throughout the home to monitor residents and keep them safe. It employs a two-way voice-activated “assistant” and also alerts family/caretakers if necessary.
AndrosRobotics: The remaining health-focused exhibitor was in the robotics field. The cool demonstration at the AndrosRobotics table allowed attendees to understand how the Robotic Leg-Advancement Device works and how it can help stroke survivors re-learn to walk.
There was actually supposed to be another medically-focused company at the event, Hurt Technologies, which was to be showing its MedKit Electronic Medical Record, but I didn’t run across their table. I’m not sure if I missed their table or if they missed the event.
blink’r: blink’r’s Internet Module ‘r is an integrated piece of equipment that allows IoT developers to get a running head-start. I won’t even try to explain how it works; instead, I’d point you to blink’r’s product self-description from the MIN website if this is something that interests you.
Tive: In an effort to improve logistics in the supply chain, Tive’s IoT-connected sensors allow companies to better track their shipments. This really is more impressive in an in-person presentation than I can make it sound here. The small sensors that are included in shipments are light, too. That’s one reason I like attending these events rather than simply reading about products online; it was nice to get a chance to handle the sensor box.
blustream: Also a very cool product that showcased well. blustream showcased an Internet-connected sensor product that provides information like temperature and humidity to help monitor the safety of valuables that are sensitive to the elements. Examples of sensor placement shown at the event included a humidor and a guitar case. (The company’s website also includes wine and firearms as other item categories their sensors can help protect.)
SiteSage Smart Kitchen: Powerhouse Dynamics was showcasing it’s SiteSage Smart Kitchen, a system that allows kitchens to get real-time alerts to temperature and other issues, for safety and money-saving reasons. The website gives a nice overview; the live table-side presentation was even more convincing.
Cimetrics: The MIN literature discusses Cimetrics’ BACnet Explorer – YouTube video here – for monitoring I0T devices throughout a building. Also, though, its Analytika cloud-based analytics platform shared the spotlight.
CrowdComfort: Also in the building management arena, CrowdComfort allows people to interact with their buildings, allowing building occupants to be the eyes and ears of the building. In its MIN description, the company’s tagline is “Unlocking the Human Sensor Network.” CrowdComfort’s video highlights its features.
Kuvée: Who doesn’t like something that improves the wine experience? Kuvée’s wine system keeps wine fresh for up to 30 days. It also includes IoT features that share information about the wine. Very cool concept for wine-lovers. And, of course, an exhibitor that drew interest. #BecauseWine.
The two “Student Startup Spotlight” companies were from Bentley University. These were Sales Sparks, which creates sales plans for startups, and Sooshay, a fast-casual sushi restaurant featuring customizable sushi rolls and locally-sourced ingredients.
As with other MIN reviews, I’ve done my best to accurately portray the products I saw exhibited based on the literature I read and conversations I had with attendees. Most of what I’ve written could easily enough be found by following this link and then clicking on the “Vote Here” tab of the MIN 98 web page, but hopefully this article serves as a decent introduction.
I always enjoy attending the MIN events, and I’m sure I’ll get to more MIN (and other technology industry) events in the coming months. I will, of course, share what I discover in this blog.
Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 77
May 9, 2017
I’ve been following the Boston New Technology Startup Showcases for quite a while now via the BNT Meetup group, but the meetings are almost always in Boston. This time, however, the showcase was held out in the suburbs where I could more easily get to it, so I jumped at the chance. As those of you who have read the Blog may know, I regularly attended technology and technology startup events when I lived in Houston. I’m not as conveniently located to make it to Boston area events as regularly, but I enjoy keeping up with the tech and startup communities when I can.
Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 77: DS SolidWorks Corporation in Waltham
This event begins with food and networking before turning to the presentations. Each startup’s presentation is 5 minutes followed by 5 minutes of Q&A. Seven companies presented. Here’s a brief recap of each:
MatterVest: First up was MatterVest, a site that’s geared toward the equity crowdfunding trend. MatterVest provides tools for investors to analyze the various investment opportunities all on one site in a standardized format, rather than forcing investors to navigate the twenty-plus equity crowdfunding sites, which may have different formats and varying types of information at the potential investors’ disposal. MatterVest is currently a live beta site.
DiscoverText: DiscoverText does text, survey, and Twitter data analytics. The company demonstrated its Twitter analytics during the presentation. A quick poke around its website is likely necessary for a fuller understanding of the software and how it works, as it’s a bit detailed for a five-minute presentation.
SlapFive: SlapFive is software that aggregates customer views in a different way. The company noted during its presentation that, rather than asking for testimonials or recommendations from its clients’ customers, SlapFive asks for knowledge, experience, feedback, or advice. This information is then captured in a way that can be shared. The company uses a SaaS business model with monthly subscriptions and tiered pricing.
TabCoinClub: This business allows customers to try out new electronics before buying. For a monthly fee, subscribers can create a queue, get items in the queue, and keep the items for as long as they like. When one item is returned, a different item is sent. Subscribers also get “coins” for maintaining their subscriptions. (In response to a question, it was mentioned that referrals are another way to earn “coins.”) These coins can then, in turn, be “spent” to be able to keep products the subscribers like.
WatchRx: This is a smartwatch with phone and GPS that helps seniors remember to take medication. It comes with a caregiver app for the family member (or other caregiver) to monitor the senior’s progress. Other features also help the caregivers monitor the seniors’ well-being. During its presentation, WatchRx even showed part of this YouTube video demo, which does a great job of showcasing the watch’s features.
BEEP: BEEP is an app from Beantown Beacons geared toward tradeshows and conferences. It allows tracking of interactions and other visitor information of interest to exhibitors and conference organizers, such as entry/exit and dwell time. For the attendee, it can cater content to enhance the conference experience. Yes, I know my description is vague. The BEEP team did a great job explaining it at BNT; hopefully any details I haven’t fully explained can be discovered via a visit to BEEP’s website.
Virtualphysio: This app provides reminders for patients to complete the at-home portions of their physical therapy. In addition to improving patient compliance via its timed text messages, Virtualphysio provides a link with exercise instructions to help ensure the therapy is done properly. Virtualphysio says its business model includes SaaS for practioners, clinical trials, and partnering with health insurance providers.
It was an interesting batch of product presentations. I’ve done my best to capture the essence of the products and the presentations in this article, but please do visit the product websites and contact the companies to ensure you get a complete, correct view of the the BNT #77 products.
The two products that were probably best-suited to this presentation format were WatchRx and Virtualphysio, whose utility and underserved consumer markets are the most obvious. Whether serving underserved niche or new markets or trying to succeed in a competitive market with a superior product, though, all of the products at this showcase appear to have a possible path to success, which is nice to be able to say.
After finally getting to a BNT startup showcase, I see that I really do like the quick-presentation format. Certainly, whenever the showcase is back in the ‘burbs (or if there’s a rare occasion I can get into the city after work), I look forward to attending a future event.