Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Boston Magazine, and Variety. Scott is the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." He is a founder of the site Innovation Leader, which focuses on innovation initiatives inside big companies. Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and the Convergence Forum. His recent Boston Globe columns are here.
As we approach the biggest eating week of the year, I’ve noticed a growing number of entrepreneurs in Boston trying to figure out how to get onto your shopping list and into your fridge. And investors are trying to figure out how to get a piece of the next Annie’s Organic (acquired by General Mills for $820 million this fall) or Vitaminwater (acquired by Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion).
Read MoreMad acquisition skillzPluralsight picks up Smarterer, focused on skill tests, for $75 million
You never know which meeting is going to lead to something worthwhile...
Dave Balter, founder and CEO of the online skills testing site Smarterer, was at an edtech conference in Phoenix in April. Balter had about three dozen meetings scheduled over the course of the event, but other people at the conference kept telling him he should meet the CEO of Utah-based Pluralsight, which serves up online training in the tech and creative industries. Balter sent him a quick e-mail "and we squeezed in ten minutes before everyone went to the airport," he says. A few months later, Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard flew to Boston "and we began active merger discussions," Balter says.
Read MoreBeta TestingFirst look: Test-riding a prototype electric bike wheel from GeoOrbital
Having just written about some Boston-area bike startups rethinking what the bike can be, I was excited to get a first look at a new electric wheel from GeoOrbital, a Cambridge startup. The company's premise is that millions of people don't ride their bikes very much, but they might if they could install an affordable accessory — like GeoOrbital's sub-$500 wheel — to give them extra range and keep sweat stains in check.
Read MoreOutsource your errandsStartup Alfred raises $2 million for urban butler service
Uber and Lyft made chauffeured cars accessible to non-Wall Streeters, and sites like Airbnb and Flipkey made it possible to find a sweet deal on a beachfront villa. Now Alfred, a startup born on the campus of Harvard Business School, wants to let you pay for just a fraction of a personal assistant, at $99 a month.
And today, the company is announcing its first funding round: $2 million, supplied by Boston-based Spark Capital and SV Angel of San Francisco.
Rhode Island-based CVS Health, operator of Minute Clinics and the country's second-biggest drugstore chain, is planning to open a technology development center in Boston this winter. Chief Digital Officer Brian Tilzer tells me that the CVS Health Digital Innovation Lab will fit about 100 people — some of whom will move from CVS HQ in Woonsocket, and some of whom will be new hires. "We may not hire all 100 next year, but we're going to hire a lot," Tilzer says. The lab's focus will be on "building customer-centric experiences in health care."
Read MoreInnovation EconomyBoston should host an Olympics for visionaries
There are some people who are pro-Olympics. Others simply say no to trying to bring the 2024 Summer Games to Boston. I am proposing we skip the skeet shooting and squat-lifting and instead do something entirely different: Let’s grab a gold medal for achieving something more important than putting on a Really Big Show.
Read MoreShared digs for healthcare revolutionariesBaystate Health opens shared space in Springfield for health care tech companies
It's graduation day for the latest class of entrepreneurs participating in the Techstars Boston accelerator program. They'll pitch an audience of investors and fellow founders at the House of Blues on Landsdowne Street, hoping to get the capital and connections necessary to make it big. Among the twelve startups are teams designing new bikes for city-dwellers, devices for wireless music streaming, and sites that aim to become the OpenTable of school field trips. This is the first Techstars session run by Semyon Dukach, an angel investor, entrepreneur, and one-time leader of the MIT Blackjack Team.
Read MoreOne less errandWashio's laundry ninjas infiltrate Boston
To the list of services that can be summoned with a few taps on your smartphone, you can now add laundry and dry cleaning. A California startup, Washio, launches in Boston this week. The company pays contractors with their own cars — they refer to them as "ninjas" — to zip around town picking up and dropping off sacks of clothing, and promises 24-hour turnaround. Washio will compete with local cleaners who already offer delivery services on price and convenience; founder Jordan Metzner says that customers can specify a half-hour window in which they'd like a pickup or dropoff to occur.
Read MoreTalent huntGSN Games' move from the suburbs to Boston all about hiring
One of the Bay State's biggest game-development studios is leaving the 'burbs for downtown Boston this Friday. GSN Games, which creates Web-based and mobile games like Bingo Bash and GSN Casino, had been based at the Meditech/Adobe building on Route 128 in Waltham, but is heading to 100 Summer St., a short walk from South Station. GSN Games, previously known as GSN Digital, is part of the Game Show Network, whose owners are DirecTV and Sony Pictures. Many of GSN's most popular games pay out cash prizes to players.
Read MoreInnovation EconomyPedal power plus: Startups aim to give a boost to bicycling
On a brisk fall morning last week, I was pedaling the streets of Cambridge in my own personal Tour de France. Ordinarily, I am a pokey cyclist, but now I was tearing down Brookline Street at 18 miles an hour, without huffing or feeling the burn. On the bike’s rear wheel, hidden inside a plastic case, were $800 worth of sensors, batteries, and a motor that augmented my leg muscles.