Innovation Economy

149 stories
Who's better, who's best?
New social site WhoQuest aims to help find the best person for the job
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How do you find the best person for the job, whether it's a gig playing your holiday party or designing a new logo for your company? A Boston startup called WhoQuest thinks it can supply the answer: just ask your social network, and let people vote the replies up or down. The recently unveiled site feels a bit like a people-focused version of Quora, the question-answering site that has raised about $160 million in funding. Read More
Beta Testing
Test ride: The prototype electric skateboard from Dash Electric
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It would be hard to come up with a shakier scenario for testing a prototype electric skateboard: slick sidewalks from recent rain, journalist who has never been on a longboard before, snow starting to blow, and a test course shared with bikers. The skateboard was designed by Dash Electric, a Boston startup founded by Northeastern University student Ian Carlson. Last month, Dash raised $15,000 in initial funding from Rough Draft Ventures, a student-run venture team that invests money on behalf of General Catalyst Partners, a Cambridge firm. Read More
One night only
Rock on! Boston tech conferences get an entertainment upgrade
Janelle Monáe plays HubSpot's annual customer conference in October. Photo by  Zac Wolf, courtesy of HubSpot.
In boom times for the tech industry, the bands playing the private parties and customer conferences get more recognizable. This year, acts like OK Go, Parliament Funkadelic, and the Dropkick Murphys have played for fist-pumping crowds of social media mavens, digital publishing gurus, and roboticists. Read More
Channeling the frustration
Mobile app Shelfie wants to let shoppers cash in on empty shelves
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Shelfie is not only an au courant name for an app, but a cool concept for these next few weeks of retail frenzy. Once you have the Android or iPhone apps, whenever there's a product you're hunting for that's out-of-stock, you use it to snap a picture of the empty shelf. The info about what's not there will be valuable to both retailers and product manufacturers, Shelfie posits. The shopper's reward? Points that can be converted into gift cards for use at places like Starbucks, Amazon, or Target. Read More
Finding a spot, made simpler
New wave of parking apps heading for Boston, with Veer first to launch
Aaron Kolenda and Jonathan Corbin, co-founders of the parking app Veer.
Has your mobile phone not quite eliminated the headache of parking in Harvard Square or the North End? A trio of new startups hope they can help — and none of them is  attempting to "monetize" city-controlled street spots, as the Baltimore startup Haystack tried to do this past summer. The first to launch is Veer, which shows up in Apple's iTunes Store today. Read More
Innovation Economy
Trolling campuses for the next Facebook
(From left) Barron Roth, John Moore, middle and Luke Sorensen discuss Downtyme during a development meeting at Boston University. (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
Two April days, separated by a decade. Two college sophomores walk into the Charles Square complex in Cambridge to meet with prospective investors. They’ve both built apps to help students communicate with friends on campus, and attracted a small community of users. Read More
Everything's coming up rosés
Drync wine app partners with retailers to offer pickup as option
Drync's mobile app lets users scan the label on bottles of wine to keep track of vintages they like — and re-order more.
Things are looking up for Bay State oenophiles. On Jan. 1, it becomes legal for wineries to ship their products directly to your doorstep. And starting this week, the Somerville startup Drync is making it possible to order a bottle or a case through its mobile app and pick it up at a local retailer. Read More
Where are they now?
Tracking the Microsoft Startup Labs diaspora
Former Startup Labs employee Pat Kinsel, standing and gesturing to the screen. Photo courtesy of Reed Sturtevant.
A little more than five years ago, I wrote about a re-org at Microsoft's internal Startup Labs product development group. It turned out to be curtains for the Cambridge-based team, led by Reed Sturtevant — even though their old Web address still optimistically implores visitors to "please come back later." But five years on, it's clear the 2009 shakeup and ensuing departures freed up a number of people who've gone on to pollinate the local startup scene. Read More
App team acquired
Airbnb picks up Pencil, Cambridge startup that built scheduling app
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Airbnb has quietly acquired a small Cambridge startup, Pencil Labs. Pencil Labs had built a scheduling app called Wyth that was intended to eliminate some of the headaches of coordinating get-togethers with friends. Three of the key players at Pencil, including co-founders Carla Pellicano and Han Shu, have already relocated to San Francisco, where Airbnb is based. Read More
One card to rule them all?
My pre-Black Friday spending spree with LoopPay's mobile wallet device
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I've been on a little warmup spending spree this week, in advance of Black Friday. But instead of purchasing iPad Minis and scented candles for my family, I've been buying coffee and tacos around town to test a new mobile payment device from Burlington-based LoopPay. LoopPay touts its technology as "the most accepted mobile wallet on the planet," and the fantasy is appealing: stash all of your credit cards, debit cards, and gift cards in digital form on your phone, and then leave the physical versions — and perhaps your wallet, too — at home. Here's the reality. Read More
Last shots
Days are numbered for secret basketball court in the Landmark Center's tower
The Landmark Center's little-known half-court is in a windowless space below the tower's top floor.
Tom Coburn will attest to the fact that my first shot in the secret basketball court went in for two. After that, Coburn sank a few in a row. The half-court is tucked away inside the rather dark, bricked-in 12th and 13th floors of the Landmark Center's tower; back when the building was a Sears, Roebuck & Co. distribution center, the space used to hold a giant water tank. And for Coburn, the CEO of an online marketing startup called Jebbit, it's his home court. His offices are one floor up, on 14, but his lease includes one of Boston's hidden treasures. Read More
Innovation Economy
Infinite Web shelf space sparks a surge of food startups
CropCircle Kitchen employee Jackson Barros prepped jalapenos for Alex’s Ugly Sauce. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
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 More