Innovation Economy

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Home energy efficiency startup Ecovent on The Entrepreneurs Grill
Ecovent co-founder Dipul Patel pitches Karen Rubin of Quanttus.
Posting another video from our Entrepreneurs Grill series... This one features Dipul Patel, co-founder of the recent Techstars Boston graduate Ecovent; it was shot before they entered the program. And Karen Rubin, the guest "griller," moved in March from Matrix Partners, where she'd been an entrepreneur-in-residence, to the healthcare startup Quanttus, where she runs product. Read More
Robot futures
MIT conference looks at robotics breakthroughs — and big challenges ahead
Two of the "AlphaDog" robots made by Boston Dynamics, designed to carry equipment for the military. The Waltham company was acquired by Google last December.
Odds are good that no one at yesterday's "Computing the Future" symposium at MIT, organized to mark the 50th anniversary of computer science and artificial intelligence research at the school, imagined they'd be watching a black-and-white video clip of Julia Child deftly slicing potatoes. But Matt Mason of Carnegie Mellon University showed it to make a point: technology is still far behind humans when it comes to perceiving and interacting with the world. Mason and other speakers who focused on the robotics field emphasized how many problems remain to be solved. Perhaps the biggest laugh of yesterday morning's session came during another video clip, when the AlphaDog robot from Boston Dynamics, above, was pushed by an employee trying to test its stability — and promptly rolled over and smashed into a parked car. "That's the new guy's car," another employee noted. Read More
More startup support
New Fintech Sandbox program will supply fuel for financial startups
A cadre of large financial services and technology firms have been working for more than a year on a new program called the Fintech Sandbox that aims to support early-stage financial services startups in Boston and elsewhere. Key players behind the program include Fidelity Investments, Thomson Reuters,, the venture capital firm .406 Ventures, and startup BuysideFX. Sandbox supervisor Rocky Weitz, formerly CEO and co-founder of the Boston startup CargoMetrics, says the plan is to have it up and running later this year. Read More
Tech fauna -- a field guide
The seven species of innovators on the Boston tech scene
Field guide
These are boom times for the innovation economy in Boston and Cambridge. Venture capital firms and big companies are moving from the suburbs to scout deals and reel in young talent. Wannabe entrepreneurs are ditching stable jobs to go the startup route. Read More
Cutting through the noise
Video messaging startup Vsnap adds $1 million in funding
Vsnap CEO Dave McLaughlin with Christopher Swenor,
Vice President of Product and Technology.
At a moment when we're all burdened by unanswered e-mails, unlistened-to voicemails, and all kinds of alerts pinging our mobile phones, Vsnap founder Dave McLaughlin has a strong belief about the power of video: a personalized video message can cut through all the noise, he says. Read More
STIR it up
Autodesk puts out welcome mat for startups at its Waltham site
Autodesk senior director Rick Rundell in the STIR space in Waltham (that's "Startups-In-Residence").
Without making a splashy announcement, Autodesk started inviting startups to shack up at its Waltham facility last month. There are about 20 desks dedicated to what the company calls its STIR program, for Startups-In-Residence. And the maker of engineering and design software has already filled about half that space with three fledgling companies, according to Autodesk senior director Rick Rundell, and there are plans to bring in several more over the summer. Read More
Kayak crew's next trick
First look: Blade Network, a supercollider for Boston's startup scene
Blade co-founders Paul Schwenk, Bill O'Donnell, and Paul English, all of whom previously worked together at Kayak, Intuit, and Interleaf.
The big opening party for Paul English's Blade Network startup space is tomorrow night, and when I dropped by on Monday morning, construction crews were scrambling to get everything finished. English, the co-founder and former chief technology officer at Kayak, wants it to become a supercollider for consumer tech, art, and music in Boston. And in terms of designing a dazzling environment, he's definitely aiming high. Read More
A smarter search engine?
Medical search engine Parzival wants to guide docs to more reliable sources
Parzival co-founders Celina Ansari and Lonnie Rae Kurlander.
Do you want your doctor to diagnose an ailment by Googling? A new medical search engine called Parzival is taking the wraps off this week, aiming to guide doctors and medical researchers to the most reliable sources when they're hunting for information about diseases and treatments. Read More
Lighting up less
Can Quitbit's smart lighter help you drop the habit?
A startup called Quitbit is launching a crowdfunding campaign today for a $150 cigarette lighter — early purchasers can get one for $70 — that can count how many times you've used it today, and relay the data to your smartphone. Quitbit's app lets you set goals for how many cigarettes you'd like to allow yourself, and share how you're doing with a group of friends on Facebook or Twitter. Quitbit hopes to start shipping its product by the end of this year. Read More
Growing pains
Tech startups in the hinterlands cope with hiring challenges
Workers at Dyn's headquarters, in a former mill building in Manchester, New Hampshire.
How do you grow a tech company when you're headquartered far from the talent hub of Greater Boston? Companies in places like Manchester, N.H., and Woodstock, Vt., are facing that quandary, after they've scooped up all the software developers they can find in those markets. Read More
Scenes from another century
Are we on the bubble?
NEW YORK — I was walking around an expo touted as the “world’s largest startup event” last month, when I started to have flashbacks to the late 1990s. At New York TechDay, there were so many booths staffed by so many eager entrepreneurs pitching so many ideas that only needed a few million bucks and a few million users to become a real business. Read More
Some things never change
For all you founders who aren't the flavor-of-the-month, one from the archives
A screen capture from's website, in 2000. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.
I had lunch yesterday with an entrepreneur I first met in 1999, at the height of the dot-com era. James Chung was one of the people I profiled in a Globe Magazine piece in 1999, headlined, "Let's do launch: So much venture capital, so little time." It painted a picture of Boston's venture capital and entrepreneurial scene at the height of the dot-com bubble, when Tom Crotty of Battery Ventures told me, "Our investors are just throwing money at us, and we need to find places to put it." Read More