Shop
Beacon Hill pop-up retailer is a group effort...offline
The shop on the corner of 111 Charles St. in Beacon Hill seemed to appear out of nowhere earlier this month. It was, until recently, an empty storefront, but for the past few weeks this holiday season, it’s been a bustling retail hub with all the trappings of a classic menswear shop, including a bust of a buck sporting some fancy neckwear and a live Christmas tree hung from the ceiling. The pop-up retail operation, dubbed the “Winter Collective,” is the combined effort of five online menswear outfitters: Tucker Blair is Boston maker of needlepoint belts and wallets; Kiel James Patrick out of Rhode Island outfits the Nantucket set in ties, bracelets, and oxfords. Hudson Sutler makes bespoke bags in New York City, which is also home to the headquarters of men’s shirtmaker Jack Robie and Naadam Cashmere, who sources their super soft knitwear from Mongolia. Each of the online outfitters looked to broaden their customer base by making the most of foot traffic during the holiday shopping season. Booking a short-term lease in Beacon Hill as a group, and styling their merchandise together, allowed them to increase their brand presence without falling victim to the flea market aesthetic. “We call it renegade retail,” said Jesse Biggers, who’s been running the shop with his partner, Rob Caron, since it opened earlier this month. The pair are contributing partners and investors in several of the companies showcasing their wares, and opened a similar pop-up concept in Nantucket this past summer. “Some of these startups can’t afford to open their own stores,” says Biggers. “This gives them an opportunity to showcase their stuff.” “We’re dipping our toe into the retail waters,” said Tucker Blair chief executive Matt Tara. It used to be, he said, that upstart brands looking to get an edge in the marketplace often “lived or died by Neiman Marcus or Barney’s.” The combined pop-up concept, done right, is a perfect way to get a foothold, Tara said. “If Ralph Lauren was starting his business in 2014, he would have started this way,” he said. The shop will be open at 111 Charles St. through Jan. 31.
Better, faster, stronger
$5 million to WHOI will fund testing tanks, 3-D printer for building better underwater robots
No one lives in this yellow submarine -- Sentry is just a companion robot that sometimes joins Alvin, the human-occupied submersible (painted red) on expeditions. (Photo: WHOI)
The Bay State has a soft spot for underwater robots. On Friday, Massachusetts officials gathered at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to announce a $5 million grant that will expand the center's robotics research facility over the next five years. The grant will fund new test tanks, a pressure testing space for deep sea robots, and a fabrication shop with a desktop 3-D printer for prototyping parts for new machines at WHOI's Center for Marine Robotics. Read More
No love for Bluetooth bracelet
Connected jewelry startup Magnet will head west to try to raise money
Alexander List's startup HeadTalk IO is a member of TechStars Boston.
Magnet co-founder and CEO Alexander List is moving to San Francisco to try to raise money for the startup, which was part of the most recent class of the Techstars Boston entrepreneurship program. The company, previously known as Headtalk IO, had been running a Kickstarter campaign that sought to raise $60,000 to produce the first batch of Magnet bracelets. But the startup hadn't hit that goal by the time the clock ran out last week — which in Kickstarter-land means no dough. Read More
Speak Easy
Quest game 'Subverses' lets you learn a language while playing a spy
Subverses, a spy quest that you can play on your iPhone, forces you to pick up new language skills as you navigate the levels of the game. (Screenshot: Subverses)
Blaine Stillerman tried to hack Spanish the usual way — with book exercises and college classes through his sophomore year. But it wasn't until he landed an internship with a shipping company in Buenos Aires, working with colleagues who spoke only a few words of English, that he saw his sputtering Spanish skills finally kick into high gear. Read More
Towards savvy social shopping
Note to retailers: Holiday shopping deals need a desperate overhaul
Photo: EPA
As the holiday shopping days dwindle, it's time to rethink the way retailers target shoppers. As Taryn Luna reported in the Globe, Black Friday is dead. For those of you who have participated in the annual shopping debacle, you will no doubt agree that outside of the periodic deal, the occasion remains trapped in a time-freeze, with long lines, irate consumers, long treks through cold parking lots, only to discover that the items you wanted were not available. That’s a lot of frustration to bear even if it is for one night. Read More
LinkedIn for Sports Fans?
Fancred adds new features to its all-in-one fan experience platform
BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF
Fancred, the Boston-based website and mobile app that lets sports fans connect and share content on their favorite teams, announced a new product update this week called "Your Fancred." As the company explained it, the update creates a new way to store, share, and relive your sports memories online. After talking to Fancred chief executive Hossein Kash Razzaghi, it seems as if Your Fancred is a step towards the company becoming a full-featured, sports-focused social media brand. Read More
Global Good
MIT and the shortcut to Nirvana
A team from MIT visits a Kumbh site. Photo via Ramesh Raskar.
It is the largest religious gathering on earth. The colorful and chaotic Kumbh Mela, (Kumbh, for short), a triennial event hosted by one of India’s four second-tier cities, draws devotees by the millions. Now, thanks to Ramesh Raskar, a MIT Media Lab professor whose hometown, Nashik, is the venue for upcoming Kumbh, it has drawn tech-minded folks from Boston as well. Read More
Just keep swimming
Navy's 'Silent NEMO' project tests Boston robotic fish for stealth ops
Boston Engineering's 'GhostSwimmer' robot can stealthily navigate cramped spaces. The Navy tested it off Virginia Beach last week.  (Image: US Navy)
A robotic fish called the GhostSwimmer made by Boston Engineering successfully completed a series of maneuvers led by the US Office of Naval Research last week. "I can’t tell you exactly what they wanted us to do," Mark Smithers, chief technology officer at Boston Engineering, said. "We were able to do something that [we weren't] able to do prior [to that] and we did it successfully multiple times." Read More