Innovation Economy

104 stories
Rethinking online shopping, in the old Sears building
First look: Launch, new Boston incubator for e-commerce ventures
Ben Fischman, founder of the Launch incubator for e-commerce startups.
What better place to cook up new e-commerce companies than the tower of an old Sears & Roebuck distribution center? That's where Ben Fischman, the founder of Lids and Rue La La, has found space for his new e-commerce incubator, dubbed Launch. There's no website yet, and the team is still small, but I dropped in last week for a visit. Read More
A tale of two crowdfunding ventures
A Weston startup ran a “crowdfunding” campaign this summer to raise money to begin production of a tabletop robot, Jibo, that interacts with people, helping to manage schedules or initiate videoconferences.
In the middle of July, two local entrepreneurs launched “crowdfunding” campaigns two days apart. They were seeking enough preorders from customers to help them start making new products. One was a sleek aluminum iPad stand called the SlingAmp, priced at about $35. The other was Jibo, a $600 robot that will be able to do things like coordinate family schedules and read bedtime stories. Read More
Things change
Shake-up at LogMeIn's Xively division, focused on the 'Internet of Things'
(Globe photo / Essdras M. Suarez)
Several top execs focused on launching new services to support the "Internet of Things" — sometimes called machine-to-machine communication, or M2M — have left Boston-based LogMeIn in recent months. And LogMeIn is closing the London office of what had been Pachube, a startup it acquired in 2011. But a LogMeIn spokesperson tells me that the publicly-traded company is not shutting down Xively, its division that offers cloud-based software and services to help companies create and manage their own Internet of Things projects, like tracking the maintenance needs of factory equipment, or monitoring a fleet of trucks. Read More
How many bottles of beer on the wall?
BevSpot banks $720,000 to help bars and restaurants better manage their booze
BevSpot co-founders Chidubem Ezekea, Alex Lesman, and Rory Crawford, outside the Harvard Innovation Lab.
2014 has been a pretty action-packed year thus far for BevSpot: founded in March by Harvard Business School and MIT students...raised $20,000 in early funding shortly after by the student-run Dorm Room Fund...product launch in August...and now, a $700,000 seed funding round. Read More
Back in Boston
Recommendation startup Nara Logics adds Jana Eggers as president
Nara CTO Nathan Wilson, President Jana Eggers, and CEO Tom Copeman.
Tech exec Jana Eggers is returning to Boston after a three-year stint in South Carolina. Eggers, a former senior executive at Lycos, Intuit, and Spreadshirt, joined Cambridge-based Nara Logics this week as president. The personalization and recommendation startup has raised $7 million from investors since its founding in 2010. Read More
Time traveling
Walk Boston's innovation trail, September 28th
The Bulfinch Building at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Innovation historian Bob Krim and I occasionally — very occasionally — organize a walking tour of what we call the Innovation Trail in Boston and Cambridge. It's an alternative version of the Freedom Trail entirely focused on science, technology, and entrepreneurship. We talk about the past and present — and you'll get into some cool historic places like the Ether Dome at Mass General, above. Read More
After Segway
Getting advanced prosthetics to those who need them
Dean Kamen shakes hands with “Luke,” the robotic arm developed by his company, DEKA. (Photo from DEKA)
For the past eight years, in an old mill building in Manchester, N.H., a team of engineers has been developing what you might call the Tesla of artificial limbs. The DEKA Arm System, about the same size and weight of an adult’s arm, can pick up an egg from a carton or a credit card from a desk. Read More
New neighbors
PayPal's Start Tank opens its doors to six more startups
Entrepreneurs working in PayPal's Start Tank, which offers chosen companies free office space up to a year. (Photo by Dina Rudick / Globe Staff)
It's getting harder for startups to score free office space at PayPal's Boston office. PayPal executive David Chang, who oversees the "Start Tank" program that sets up chosen entrepreneurs with office space that PayPal isn't yet using, says only about 11 percent of applicants got in this fall. That's compared to a 20 percent acceptance rate earlier this year. Read More
Layoffs at adtech firm
Video analytics startup Visible Measures cuts staff
Photo of Visible Measures' office near South Station, from the company's blog.
One of Boston's best-funded adtech startups, Visible Measures, has been shedding employees, with the latest round of layoffs taking place yesterday. According to former employees and executives at other companies who have been fielding resumes from laid off employees, the cuts represent 30 or more people, about one-quarter of Visible Measures' workforce. CEO Brian Shin declined comment yesterday evening, pointing me to a public relations rep who hasn't responded to phone calls or e-mails. The layoffs affect employees across all departments, says one former employee, adding that the company may have simply grown too fast in a hyper-competitive business: "A serious case of cart in front of horse," he says. Read More
Parties without the clean-up
'Avon meets Skype' with new video house party software from Kitsy Lane
kitsylanescreen
I'm not a big buyer of dangly earrings or silver-and-turquoise cuffs, but I have to admit: the new video "house party" software from Kitsy Lane, a Boston-based e-commerce startup, is a lot of fun. Instead of lining up a babysitter and visiting a friend's house to nibble cheese and crackers and try on costume jewelry, you sign on for a group videochat. The new vParty software is part of a recently-launched site from Kitsy Lane called Chelsea Row that focuses on selling jewelry and accessories online, through in-person "trunk shows" and the new live video events. Read More
Speak softly...
Apple is growing the Cambridge research team focused on improving Siri speech recognition
The low-key entrance to Apple's current office in Kendall Square. (Photo by Scott Kirsner/ BetaBoston)
On the eve of its next big product announcement, Apple is expanding its super-secret research office in Kendall Square. Several commercial realtors tell me that the Cupertino company has leased more than half a floor at One Broadway, an MIT-owned building that also houses Facebook's small local team, several venture capital firms, and the Cambridge Innovation Center. The new office, about 13,000 square feet on one of the building's upper floors, is a major expansion for Apple, which currently has a small team on the building's fifth floor. Read More
Parallel entrepreneurs
One is not enough: Let's start two
Phil Beauregard (left) listens as partner Matt Grace makes a presentation to team members at Objective Logistics, one of two companies Beauregard and Grace have founded together. (Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff)
Sitting behind the computer monitor on Phil Beauregard’s cluttered desk at a startup called Objective Logistics is a hardcover book published in 2011: the authorized biography of Steve Jobs. Jobs managed to pull off something that is rarer in the business world than a no-hitter is in baseball. For about a decade after his return to Apple in 1997, Jobs ran two successful public companies, Apple and Pixar, simultaneously. Read More