Innovation Economy

142 stories
One card to rule them all?
My pre-Black Friday spending spree with LoopPay's mobile wallet device
looppay
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
Mad acquisition skillz
Pluralsight picks up Smarterer, focused on skill tests, for $75 million
Smarterer CEO Dave Balter and Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight.
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 More
Beta Testing
First look: Test-riding a prototype electric bike wheel from GeoOrbital
GeoOrbital's prototype wheel, on a used Cannondale mountain bike. (Photo by Scott Kirsner / BetaBoston.)
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 More
Outsource your errands
Startup Alfred raises $2 million for urban butler service
An Alfred errand-runner brings in a customer's shoes for repair. Company-supplied photo.
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. Read More
Tapping tech talent in Boston
Pharmacy giant CVS Health will open digital innovation lab in Boston
CVS store
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 More
Shared digs for healthcare revolutionaries
Baystate Health opens shared space in Springfield for health care tech companies
TechSpring's workspace in downtown Springfield. Photographed in October.
Friday is the official ribbon-cutting for a new shared workspace in Springfield focused on testing and deploying new health care technologies. Baystate Health, the big nonprofit healthcare system that spawned the space, has dubbed it the Baystate Health Technology Innovation Center. But that sounds like a name coughed up by a committee, and Christian Lagier, a former entrepreneur and business development executive who will run it, says he expects everyone will call it TechSpring. Read More
Pitching in the shadow of Fenway
Here's the line-up for today's Techstars Boston startup showcase
Jakob Garrow of EdTrips high fives a group of fifth graders from Mason-Rice Elementary School in Newton, at today's demo day.
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 More
One less errand
Washio's laundry ninjas infiltrate Boston
Washio founder Jordan Metzner.
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 More