Author Archives: Geoff Wilbur
On Tuesday, November 14th, I attended the Expese.com launch party at WeWork in Cambridge, MA. I found out about the company via a conversation at a local startup event a few months ago. This was a neat way to learn more about the company.
Experience with Ease
Expese’s marketing tagline and, obviously, the source of the company’s name is “experience with ease.” The website is a technology enthusiast’s playground. It allows subscribers to “experience” cutting-edge technology for 21 days before returning it and getting the “experience” the next item on their lists. It’s a “try before you buy” website, and there is an opportunity for subscribers to purchase the items they’re trying out using e-coins. E-coins are earned simply by subscribing; they can also be earned by writing reviews and by referring new subscribers. Of course, you can also buy e-coins to reach the amount required to purchase a product that interests you.
Products currently available through Expese include virtual reality products, drones, smartwatches, gaming systems, and a variety of other gadgets, as listed on this page of the website.
For more information, check out the company’s website, expese.com. Questions are answered on Expese’s FAQ page. You can also watch Expese’s introductory YouTube video. (It’s barely more than a minute long, so it’s a quick and easy watch.)
The party itself was an after-work event with snacks, drinks, a quick presentation, and prizes. At the event, virtual reality products were available to try out and a sample table containing some of the technology available through Expese was set up. The attendees were an interesting mix of people in the local technology and start-up communities.
Expese is currently in beta launch, so early subscriber feedback may inform future changes. I actually won a two-month trial of Expese at the event – I told you there were prizes – so I’m going to sign up, try it out, and share my experiences with you at the end of the trial. I’ve always personally been too busy to devote much time to the latest tech, so this will be fun. Either tomorrow or maybe during Thanksgiving weekend I’ll have a little free time to sign up, set up my account, and select items for my queue, and after I’ve tried Expese for a couple months, I’ll write about my experience.
Mass Innovation Nights 104
November 8, 2017
I rarely make it into the city for a technology event – the drive in after work and parking would cause me to arrive late to too many events to make frequent attendance possible, since the events are timed to be convenient for whose jobs are nearby or a subway-ride away to attend after work. But I do make it to a good percentage of the events in the western Boston suburbs, so I may it to my first startup event in several months this week, a Mass Innovation Nights event hosted by Dassault Systemes in Waltham.
This wasn’t a “theme night,” so the companies exhibiting crossed industry boundaries, though as is often the case at Boston-area startup events, all of the companies in attendance at MIN104 could be considered tech.
Mass Innovation Nights 104: Dassault Systemes in Waltham, MA
Every month, Mass Innovation Nights features presentations from the host, 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 PeopleProductive, MagniFact’s MoodAnalyzer, Fluid-Screen, and Kaiburr. Awards were also given based on at-event voting. At-event winners were Vocoli, Kaiburr, Obvia, and Fluid-Screen.
Though it was mentioned on the event notice, I had forgotten the host, Dassault Systemes/SOLIDWORKS, was offering tours of its 3DEXPERIENCE Lab, so I didn’t seek it out. I’ll have to be better prepared if there is a “next time.”
Now, I’ll take a quick run through the companies in attendance; you can follow the links for more information about them.
Obvia: Obvia’s wind turbine system is based on innovative rotor blades, which I understood easily based on the explanation I received at Obvia’s table. And, it seems, a semi-shrouded wing; shrouding is explained in a video linked from Obvia’s Mass Innovation Nights profile. If my layman’s description sounds interesting, I’d suggest going to Obvia’s website and/or its MIN profile to learn more.
Fluid-Screen: Some of the medical technology startups prove the most interesting at startup events, and this month’s MIN was no exception. Fluid-Screen’s lab-on-a-chip technology allows doctors’ offices to process tests faster, reducing the time required to test for bacterial contamination from days to thirty minutes. As part of the company’s presentation, it was noted even homes could potentially use it to test food and water, particularly in places (or times) during which contamination is more likely. In addition to the company’s website, there’s information of Fluid-Screen’s Mass Innovation Nights profile, which includes a link to a TEDx presentation.
By the way, you can get to any vendor’s MIN104 profile by clicking on this link (http://mass.innovationnights.com/events/mass-innovation-nights-104), clicking “Vote Here” to see the list of showcasing companies, and then clicking the “Read More” at the end of each vendor’s section.
Coalesce.info: This one’s kind of cool. The Coalesce.Info Virtual Analyst is like an AI search engine that improves responses to decision making questions within a company.
MagniFact: The MagniFact MoodAnalyzer uses predictive analytics and custom algorithms to provide customer sentiment information in real time based on the language used by customers. A young start-up guided by an established technologist, this product could solve a variety of problems, with its direction perhaps guided by the interested parties currently involved with its founder. The video on MagniFact’s MIN profile is also worth viewing.
Kaiburr: A popular product at MIN104, Kaiburr is an application orchestration software billed as “DevOps as a Service.” Kaiburr’s 2-minute promotional YouTube video explains Kaiburr and its product management capabilities probably better than I could in a paragraph.
Vocoli: Vocoli is a sort of a digital suggestion box platform, allowing companies to gain useful new ideas, internally “crowdsource” ideas, and keep tabs on the sentiment within their ranks. And, again, there’s a less-than-two-minute YouTube video that explains some of the details of Vocoli.
PeopleProductive: PeopleProductive is a software platform that helps companies reduce attrition rates, among other things. The three “tracks” detailed on the company’s website are “On-Time Execution & Delivery,” “Employee Retention,” and “Mergers & Acquisitions.” I’d suggest referring to the company’s website for more details.
iseeBell: iseeBell’s table presentation focused on its video doorbell product, which allows people to see who’s at the door via smartphone or tablet from anywhere. The company was also displaying some devices geared more directly toward the security-camera market, as well. As with so many of MIN104’s companies, there’s a two-minute video pitch on YouTube.
E-Green LLC‘s Beacon Smart Lamp: This product allows you to turn on, turn off, brighten, dim, and even change the direction of the beam of the lamp from your smartphone. The YouTube video is just one minute long.
Makerchip.com: OK, here I’ll just quote the text directly from the MIN company profile because I couldn’t possibly add something useful: “Makerchip.com is a free cloud-based IDE for digital integrated circuit design aimed at open-source hardware development and academic use.” From standing by and listening in while this product was being shown to interested parties, it looks like it would be a helpful tool, though since this isn’t my area of expertise, I don’t know current alternatives are out there.
Experts included members of the Dassault Systemes team and Jeff Schantz from EYP. Plus, they were joined by Innovation Women, a speakers’ bureau to help connect event managers with women entrepreneurs and women in the technical fields. (I say “joined by” because Innovation Women weren’t listed on the event website or the event handout, but they did have a prime booth location.)
As always with my startup event summaries, I’ve done my best to explain what I saw, drawing upon some promotional material at the event and online, conversations I had with company representatives, and the information available by clicking the “Vote Here” tab of the MIN104 web page. If you find any of the companies or products described above interesting, please follow the links I provided and get in touch with the companies themselves for more information.
That concludes my overview of yet another MIN event. As I attend additional MIN (and other technology industry) events in the coming months, I’ll share what I see with those of you who read my blog.
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.
Mass Innovation Nights 92
November 16, 2016
This month’s Mass Innovation Night was themed, featuring technology in education, introducing the local start-up community’s ed tech offerings.
Mass Innovation Nights 92: Dassault Systemes in Waltham
This month’s event was held at Dassault Systemes in Waltham, an easy drive from my office, so I was able to make the most of this month’s event.
Each event features presentations from the host and partners, the “Expert Corner” experts and exhibitors who win a pre-event vote on the Mass Innovation Nights website. Presenting this night were Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS and LearnLaunch; experts from Proper Orange and Business Insurance & Benefits Services of MA; and exhibitors Ivy Ladder, inli.ne, Didart, and ScholarJet. Awards were also given based on at-event voting. At-event winners were inli.ne, Flye, Cognii, and ScholarJet.
I’ll begin by discussing the products that stood out the most to me personally. I know I won’t do their products justice, but here’s a quick introduction. Please explore the companies’ websites and contact them for more detailed information:
Flye: Flye has built an app that offers GPS-based scavenger hunts. These scavenger hunts can be personalized for educational purposes, presumably by teachers, educational destinations, or anyone else whose class, school, location, event, or business could benefit from a “hunt.”
Lyriko: The first app from Skylight Games, Lyriko teaches languages with the help of music.
Didart: This venture delivers small boxes of materials for children to build arts and crafts and combines it with an interactive online environment to help students experience different cultures with multiple senses.
Viewing as a potential investor, there were some scholarship, college entrance, and school-to-work based businesses at the event for which there might be a more obvious robust revenue stream, depending on where the products in question stand against their competitors. These include:
Ivy Ladder: Ivy Ladder describes itself as a “student career academy” that helps students transition from school to work. It’s a program that teaches students what they need to know to transition from school to job.
inli.ne: in.line offers college application assistance, from essay help to insights on how to college applications are reviewed.
Riipen: Riipen allows higher education institutions to partner their students with businesses that can utilize their skills, allowing them to, as the website says, “increase employable skills.”
ScholarJet: This process allows donors to tailor scholarships to a variety of actual events, encouraging challenge-based scholarships as an alternative to the usual essay-writing method of determining scholarship winners.
Other companies at the event were:
LearnLaunch: LearnLaunch presented, telling the audience about its institute, which connects Boston’s edtech community; it’s accelerator, which assists edtech entrepreneurs; and its campus, which features coworking space to edtech startups.
Smartick: Smartick is an online math-learning method.
30hands Storyteller Web: This product leverages its storytelling capability for learning purposes, promoting project-based, hands-on learning.
HistoryUnErased: This is a tool that produces/provides LGBTQ learning material.
Cognii: Cognii produces an artificial intelligence-based learning tool.
Eduporium: Eduporium’s Discovery Bundle helps teachers and schools acquire the best, cutting-edge teaching tools for what they’re studying.
Again, I’m sure I didn’t do any of the above products justice, but if the quick descriptions above spark an interest, please do click through to the companies’ websites and investigate in greater detail.
In addition to the Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS team, which was listed as “experts,” there were two additional “experts” this evening.
Andreas Randow from Proper Orange: Proper Orange consists of C-level business and technology experts who can help start-ups scale their businesses.
Nathan Therrien from Business Insurance & Benefits Services of MA was introduced to me at the go-to guy for insurance services for start-ups.
As with past reviews of MIN events, 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 92 web page, but hopefully this article serves as a decent introduction. MIN 93 is scheduled for Wednesday, December 14th in a heated tent at City Hall Plaza in Boston as part of “Boston Winter at City Hall Plaza.” It is scheduled to feature consumer product companies, including some MIN alumni who will have products available for sale, in case attendees are interested in any last-minute holiday shopping from Boston’s own, local, cutting-edge companies.
The crowd is always friendly, the after-party is casual and relaxed, and while I rarely get all the way into the city after work, I’m sure I’ll attend more MIN events in the coming months, as well as venturing out to other start-up and technology industry events and blogging about them when I can.
Mass Innovation Nights 81
December 9, 2015
My first Mass Innovation Nights event last month recalled some of the many technology and start-up events I used to attend in Houston. Indeed, the Boston area start-up community was just as welcoming, so I returned for December’s event.
Mass Innovation Nights 81: Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville
This month’s event was held at Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville. I actually missed most of the presentations because I couldn’t find parking… for about 40 minutes. Finally, as I was circling the car around to give up and leave, a space opened up. Still, this reinforces my motto of “I will not drive to any event in Somerville because there is no parking.”
Because I was cutting the start-time close — I had been stuck in the office late finishing the day’s work — I missed most of the presentations, but I did catch the awards at the end of the presentations, voted on by the attendees. Indeed, while the presenters are selected by pre-show voting, attendees select their favorite products during at-event voting. Among the Audience Choice winners, the Grand Prize winner was PICC Perfect. The Favorite Audience Products award winners were FlingGolf, GeoOrbital, and Green Piñata.
Once at the event, I chatted with some other attendees, stopped by the information tables for a few of the featured companies and one expert. Check out the MIN 81 page (and click on “Vote Here” once on that page) or the companies’ websites (see hotlinks below for each company) for more detailed information, particularly to the extent my descriptions may not do these businesses justice.
Unlike MIN80, which focused on tech companies, only a few of the start-ups at MIN81 could be consider tech or tech-based. I primarily visited the tables of these companies. Mentions of companies I visited (and accompanying descriptions of their products) follow:
PICCPerfect PICC Line Cover: Something that solves a medical/healthcare problem. This start-up bills its product as “safe, sanitary and stylish PICC Line Covers.” The founder experienced the lack of a product to serve her needs and started a company to solve that problem. The PICC line cover is currently available in three colors/patterns — black or two patterns. Again, based on the company’s numbers of how many patients there are with PICC lines every year, it’s amazing there wasn’t a suitable product already in existence.
GeoOrbital Wheel: A wheel that can be added to a bicycle to turn it into an electric bike, purportedly easy enough to install that it can be done in just two minutes. I was given a quick demonstration of how this wheel works — the wheel is connection to a control the customer installs on the handlebars. At speeds up to 20 miles per hour with a 20 mile range in cities, this strikes me as being a potentially useful product for bicycle commuters, though I’m sure those aren’t the only potential customers. Per the company’s literature, there is a 4-hour charge time.
Green Piñata Toy Share: A rental service for safe and educational toys. I spent a bit of time chatting with the entrepreneur at Green Piñata and am impressed with the effort and thought behind the service, which offers rental of toys for children up to five years of age. Safe, educational, and (as the website explains) sanitized.
Other companies at the event were:
BeHomeWell: An online store aggregating nontoxic products onto a single site.
Esmeralda Lambert – Statement Handwoven Jewelry: A Boston jewelry business that have seven employees in the Dominican Republic.
ShipFoliage.com: A business that ships New England foliage worldwide.
Runfellow: Motivational running gear and a run club to provide additional community/”motivation.”
Boston Crawling: Historic Boston pub crawls.
Gift Uncommon: Community gift card programs to allow local town merchants to combine forces to provide appealing multi-store gift cards that support local business communities.
Fling Golf: A new sport that appears to be a cross between lacrosse and golf.
Anchor Nutrition Bar: A nutrition bar that relieves nausea.
Women & Transition: A book/guidebook for women in transition, meant to help them through transitional life events.
Hammer Riveted Wallet: Wallets designed not to fall apart.
Missing in Action
Thene company I expected to see, but who I didn’t see at MIN 81, was Jess, Meet Ken, a dating app where men are “recommended” to women by other women. That’s a shame because particularly with the dearth of technology, IT, and web-based businesses at this MIN event, I was looking forward to chatting with these entrepreneurs.
Tonight’s “expert” was Mike Dixon of Wellington Street Consulting, a firm currently focused on helping companies maximize their Office 365 transitions. I was personally impressed with Mike when we spoke and encourage readers to check out the company’s website.
I’m not entirely sure I’ve added anything that you couldn’t have found out just by following this link and then clicking on the “Vote Here” tab of the MIN 81 web page, but hopefully,if you’re interested, you’ll check out one or more of these start-ups. Since this is just my second of these events, I’m not sure what the company mix usually is at Mass Innovation Nights. As I noted earlier, MIN 80 was pretty tech-heavy; MIN 81 was not. I’m curious to see what future events hold. From the list of companies on the MIN website for the upcoming January 13th event, MIN 82, it looks like tech will again take center stage.
The crowd is friendly, and as long as I’m convinced I’ll be able to find parking at future events, I look forward to attending more MIN in the coming months, as well as venturing out to other start-up and technology industry events and blogging about them when I can.
Mass Innovation Nights 80
November 11, 2015
Some of you may know me from the Houston technology and start-up communities. I was an attendee at the Houston Technology Champions breakfasts (a dues-paying Champion my last year in Houston) and a regular attendee at TechXans (now TechExecs) events and member while in Houston. Since moving to the Boston area, I have been notably absent from technology networking events. I’m glad to be able to fit these events into my schedule again, and I enjoyed meeting several members of the Boston tech start-up community tonight. And now I have a telecom and tech industry blog, so…
Mass Innovation Nights 80: The Event
I present you with Mass Innovation Nights 80, hosted at the Autodesk offices in Waltham. There were a dozen start-ups represented, as well as an “expert corner” presenter. The two student start-ups and four of the remaining ten companies gave 5-minute presentations (with those 4 companies selected by pre-event attendee voting). I didn’t get a chance to meet with all of the companies, but I’ll try to summarize each I met with below, as well as mentioning the two remaining companies based on their descriptions from the event literature. Check out the MIN 80 page (and click on “Vote Here” once on that page) or the companies’ websites (see hotlinks below for each company) for more detailed information, particularly to the extent my descriptions may not do these businesses justice.
I’ll start with the presenting companies:
BikeBus: This business allows commuters to exercise (spinning) while commuting. Daytime revenue streams could be through providing mobile exercise rooms in business parking lots/streetside and renting for themed parties. But don’t take my word for it; the best spokespeople are the company’s founders. There are also news reports on the BikeBus website’s “press” page.
Greenlight Technologies: Winner of tonight’s voting, Greenlight Technologies provides wireless charging for mobile devices, with its software platform allowing location owners to provide a message via coupon or advertisement to chargers in exchange for the charging service.
Stack AI: This is a relationship management tool that allows people and businesses to manage their contacts with the ability fully integrate e-mail, calendar, and contacts in the process.
QuikForce: This service allows movers to schedule their moves based on preferred time of move, items to be moved, etc. It matches movers with moving services, while standardizing price estimate comparisons. I was given a quick demonstration at QuikForce’s table, and it appears easy to use.
The Student Startup Spotlight featured two start-ups from Accelerate, Wentworth Institute of Techonology’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. The first company, Catheter Port, is an effort to improve and ease patient self-care; I think the company name is pretty descriptive. The second student start-up, Organic Connections, showcased a wooden toy meant to help in early childhood development.
Expert Corner Presentation: The “expert corner” featured Alan Dillingham, Program Manager of the 1776 Challenge Cup, a competition in which start-ups compete for more than $1 million in prizes.
After the presentation, I also spoke with four of the other six start-ups at the event.
Fuzzy Compass is a way for bloggers in the travel and food industries to offer their services one-on-one to potential customers. The example explained to me was for the travel industry, where bloggers can act as consultants to travelers planning complex trips. Would you like your favorite travel blogger to help you plan your trip? If so, that blogger could use Fuzzy Compass to help make that a reality. Interesting concept, eh?
Nabi Music Center: Obviously, I had to talk to these folks. This is a business that combines my love of music with my interest in technology. Indeed, it’s a site that connects music instructors with potential students for private music lessons.
LetsAllDoGood: Connecting non-profit organizations and community groups with their constituents via a smartphone app, this company’s goal is to provide an easier way for organizations to communicate with those who want or need to receive their messages; you could consider it an alternative to the overstuffed, clogged e-mail inbox.
Animatron: Easy-to-use animation creation right in your browser. I could go on, but I think I described it will in that first sentence. It does look quite easy to use. I’d refer you to the website for more information.
I ran out of time before I was able to check out the remaining two start-ups at MIN 80. But they were WebHub Mobi, an app that allows you to create and share maps of the Internet, and Happening, a mobile app that helps users find “events, deals and activities.”
I’m not entirely sure I’ve added anything that you couldn’t have found out just by following this link and then clicking on the “Vote Here” tab of the MIN 80 web page, but hopefully I’ve inspired you to check out one or more of these tech start-ups, whichever interests you.
I look forward to attending future MIN and other technology industry events and blogging about them as a useful addition to my usual telecom and tech new topic-driven posts.
I recall the first time I encountered tower terminology when pricing out attachment rates. At first, I thought I must have misheard the term “guy wire.” Of course, I already thought I was dealing with a “guide tower,” so what did I know?
Well, this blog post on the Launch 3 Telecom site entitled “What is a Guyed Tower?” tells you a little bit about guyed towers and guy wires (before it morphs into a Launch 3 Telecom advertisement).
Anyway, now you’ll now what guyed towers and guy wires are (and how to spell them), you’ll have to find other terminology to trip you up.
The Source of My Policy Geekdom…
I wrote a couple times this past year about Aereo. This is mostly because I’m a bit of a telecom policy geek. My telecom policy geekdom all started decades ago, thanks to a class I took while studying for my B.A. in Telecommunications. Telecommunications Law, I think it was called. The key thing I took away from that class, taught by the exceptional Professor Thomas Muth, was that it was often possible to credibly, honestly argue either side of a policy debate simply by interpreting the Communications Act of 1934 differently. I was working for telcos when that was replaced by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. What makes telecom law so interesting is that it is often up to interpretation, with case history sometimes providing a window into expected FCC and court decisions, but the Telecom Act often allows for changes in policy direction, if desired. And in the case of Aereo, there was even case history supporting opposing potential decisions.
…and How It Led to My Aereo Posts
So that’s what made Aereo so interesting to me; that’s what prompted two posts, first on April 8th and again on April 20th. This was a situation in which both sides could find support in telecom laws and case histories; the main question was how those laws would be interpreted in this particular case.
The Unraveling of Aereo Since June, and the Beginning of Its Final Dismantling
I wasn’t blogging much, and therefore failed to publish any posts about Aereo, during the time period that Aereo was “deemed illegal” by the Supreme Court in June (as noted in this TechCrunch article) or when it lost its appeal to be consider a cable company in August (see this c|net article). Nor did I post in November when Aereo’s Chet Kanojia penned a final farewell to the company’s customers (which, at least for now, can still be seen on Aereo’s website).
Most recently, the company was in the news a couple weeks ago for a court decision allowing it to auction off its equipment (as detailed in this telecompaper article).
This seems to be the end for Aereo, but for the telecom policy geek in me, at least, it was interesting following the ups and downs of this potentially disruptive telecom business.