Innovation Economy

125 stories
The chosen
Constant Contact invites four startups to its new InnoLoft workspace in Waltham
Construction workers putting finishing touches on Constant Contact's new InnoLoft space in Waltham. (Courtesy of Constant Contact.)
Earlier this year, the digital marketing firm Constant Contact said that it was creating a new space to house startups that serve small business customers. Today, the company is announcing the first group of four businesses selected for what Constant Contact has dubbed the Small Business InnoLoft. In addition to office space and mentorship from Constant Contact employees and other startup experts, the companies chosen get $10,000 in marketing money. Read More
Still stealthy after all these years...
'Social robot' startup Jibo attracts new investors, preps for product launch
Still frame from Cynthia Breazeal's 2011 TED Talk about her research on "social robots" at the MIT Media Lab.
I've been following Jibo since last January, when I first told you the "social robot" startup had snagged some initial funding from Charles River Ventures. Now, Jibo founder Cynthia Breazeal has taken a leave from MIT's Media Lab to run the company. Jibo has brought on some additional investors, and begun hiring a handful of employees from companies like iRobot Corp. and Netflix. And a new placeholder website and Facebook page suggest an unveiling of the product is imminent. Read More
Betaspring's spring class
Thinking in 3D at Betaspring's startup showcase
Modelo's founding team.
Maybe I'm a little obsessed with the future of design, but for me, the three most interesting pitches at today's Betaspring investor demo day in Boston were all about 3D design and output. Betaspring, the Providence-based accelerator program, bused its current crop of startups to District Hall today to pitch a small audience of investors; a larger demo day takes place tomorrow evening in Rhode Island. Read More
Transportation test
Test ride: Hopping Bridj from Brookline to Cambridge
Bridj's bus stop in Brookline's Coolidge Corner.
Ordinarily, you wouldn't review the dress rehearsal of a play, or the friends-and-family night of a restaurant about to open. And that's what today was for Bridj, the private bus service. The company is operating test routes this month from Brookline to Boston's Financial District and Kendall Square, Cambridge, with passengers riding free. If it was a disaster, I wasn't planning to post anything. But my trip went swimmingly — except for the journalists prowling the aisle trying to interview everyone, shooting video, and snapping pics. (I wasn't among them...) Read More
Hot or not?
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