Innovation Economy

140 stories
Regulators examining 'Uber for manicures'
Office manicure startup Manicube under scrutiny from Mass. regulators
Photo courtesy Manicube.
Does it violate Massachusetts regulations to have your nails painted in an empty conference room at work? A startup that dispatches manicurists to offices in Boston, New York, and Chicago is attracting scrutiny from the Massachusetts board that licenses cosmetologists and nail salons. At issue: whether it's kosher for Manhattan-based Manicube to offer manicures outside of a licensed nail salon. This is the latest tussle between regulators and a startup taking a new approach to an established industry, similar to Uber in transportation or Airbnb in hospitality. Read More
Up on the roof
Is this the coolest "office" in Boston's Innovation District?
John Stoddard, "founding farmer" at Higher Ground Farm.
On a warm September morning, it's hard to imagine a better place to work that the rooftop above the Boston Design Center. There's a fantastic view of downtown through an archway, the harbor is sparkling, and a cruise ship is parked at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal next door. And at Higher Ground Farm, their casual Friday dress code likely differs a bit from casual Friday at your office... Read More
New gig for Grace
Executive shuffle at Objective Logistics and Rekindle
Phil Beauregard and Matt Grace, co-founders of the Boston startups Objective Logistics and Rekindle. (Photo by Joanne Rathe / Globe Staff)
I wrote last month about parallel entrepreneurship: founders who are involved with more than one startup at a time. One of the examples was the team of Phil Beauregard and Matt Grace, who started the restaurant management software company Objective Logistics in 2009, and the social app Rekindle this year. Read More
Starting over
Former Communispace CEO Diane Hessan will run Startup Institute
Diane Hessan at the Boston offices of Communispace in 2013. Photo by Jessica Rinaldi for The Boston Globe.
Long-time Communispace CEO Diane Hessan has a new gig: she's taking over Startup Institute, a for-profit education business that spun out from the Techstars Boston entrepreneurship program. Startup Institute recently raised $3 million from Silicon Valley Bank, and now operates its eight-week "boot camp" for people who hope to get jobs with startups in five cities; there's also an online program called RampUp. Read More
Talking travel
TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer explains why he doesn't obsess over the stock price
TripAdvisor co-founder and CEO Stephen Kaufer. Photo by Suzanne Kreiter / Globe Staff.
TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer is a rare bird in several ways. Not only is he chief executive of an industry-leading website based in Massachusetts — TripAdvisor is the world's biggest travel site — but he took the company public in 2011 after first selling it to InterActiveCorp. (More on that here.) I sat down with him last month to talk about the company's four acquisitions so far in 2014; his take on travel startups like Airbnb, Uber, BlaBlaCar, and TripIt; and whether he's happier or less happy being the CEO of a public company. Read More
Tipping point
Kendall Square passes from tech center to biotech center
Shannon Pendergrast of Ymir Genomics isolates exosomes from biofluids at LabCentral in Cambridge’s Kendall Square. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
The three-story brick building at the corner of Main and Osborn streets in Cambridge, on the edge of Kendall Square and the MIT campus, captures three distinct eras in the city’s innovation history. In the early 1800s, it was the site of Kimball & Davenport, the first builder of passenger railroad cars in America. Read More
The virtual view from Hollywood
A report from Oculus' first conference for virtual reality software developers
Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey at the Oculus Connect event last month. Photo courtesy of IrisVR.
The virtual reality headset maker Oculus — now owned by Facebook — held its first conference for software developers last month. I bumped into Shane Scranton, a Vermont entrepreneur, the day before he flew out to Hollywood for the conclave, and asked him to share his impressions afterward. Scranton's startup, IrisVR, has been pitching investors and architecture firms on software that can take three-dimensional models of buildings and "translate" them easily and quickly for viewing on the Oculus goggles. It's an amazing experience: you can walk through and look around spaces that haven't yet been built. Read More
Seeking robo-supremacy
Robot makers and tech trade group hope to create new workspace for robotics ventures
Vgo Communications makes a videoconferencing robot that is used by Audi at some of its service locations.
Robotics entrepreneurs may soon have their own special place for bot-building. A group of robotics companies, research-and-development labs, and the tech industry trade group Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council are working to create a shared workspace for fledgling robotics ventures, dubbed Mass Robotics. Plans could be announced as soon as mid-October. The space may be located at Alewife on the far fringe of Cambridge, but that's still up in the air, as is a target opening date. Read More
Special space for Crimson startups
First look: Harvard's new Launch Lab, a home for alumni startups
Harvard-affiliated startups began moving into the university's new Launch Lab this month.
Just three years after Harvard University opened its Innovation Lab, a space for students to develop startup ideas, there's a new annex for alumni businesses located right across the street. The Launch Lab is intended to support not only recent grads who may be growing companies they started when they were students, but also alumni several years out who are working on new ventures. Both the Launch Lab and the Innovation Lab are in the former WGBH television complex on Western Avenue in Allston. I stopped by earlier this month to have a look... Read More
Make it in Mass.?
Can manufacturing in Massachusetts go viral?
Eric Hold works on the electrical boards of a mass spectrometer at 908 Devices in South Boston. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)

“What we need are manufacturing jobs, not stupid social apps.”

That was a comment appended to a column I wrote in August about two app start-ups in Boston, and I thought it raised a good question: Who is creating those new manufacturing jobs? If you want to weld, rivet, or stamp for a living, rather than code and upload, where will you work?

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Upgrading the conference call
Boston-based Talko, led by Ray Ozzie, unveils new communication app
Talko founders Matt Pope, Eric Patey, and Ray Ozzie, in the startup's North End office.
Just a few blocks away from where Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, entrepreneur Ray Ozzie and a small team have been reimagining telephone calls for the 21st century. And today, they're debuting a new iPhone app called Talko that seeks to nudge the phone out of the "just dial a number and hold it to your ear" era and into the 21st century. Read More