When George Takei — social media star, equal rights crusader, and the former helmsman of the starship Enterprise — asks you about the most interesting places to visit to get a sense for innovation in Boston, that's an e-mail you respond to pretty fast. Takei was planning a trip here in May to shoot several new episodes of his YouTube series "Takei's Take," and I suggested he drop by places like Rethink Robotics, which sells a new kind of manufacturing robot, and Bluebird Bio, a Cambridge biotech developing new kinds of gene therapies for rare diseases. The first episode he shot on that trip just showed up on YouTube yesterday.
Read MoreNew VC star?Procyon Ventures, focusing on data and analytics, is newest venture firm in Cambridge
A new early-stage investment firm named after a star in the constellation Canis Minor has made a trio of investments since starting up earlier this year. I'd heard rumblings about the existence of Procyon Ventures a few months back, but didn't get founding partner Millie Liu on the phone until yesterday.
Cambridge may soon get a second shared laboratory space for life sciences companies in the shadow of the Genzyme building in Kendall Square. And one of the people behind the Mass Innovation Labs project says that it will be different from — and possibly larger than — LabCentral, which opened late last year with financial backing from the state's Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and corporate sponsors like Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.
Read MoreSo simple, Fred Flintstone could do itBedrock Data wants to simplify data synchronization between applications
Bedrock Data was born as a "nights and weekends" project at HubSpot, the Cambridge digital marketing firm. Bedrock's founders observed how complicated it was to craft connections between various software-as-a-service applications so that data from one could be synchronized with another. While still working at HubSpot, they incorporated Bedrock as a company in mid-2012 so they could start accepting credit cards for the service they'd built — focused on simplifying the process of building those links between applications. But Bedrock's founders didn't depart HubSpot until last year, when they were convinced that their new venture's revenues could support them.
Read MoreLet's do lunch...Wyth app, from Fiksu and Vlingo veterans, wants to help manage your calendar
A Boston startup, Pencil Labs, has slipped a new calendar and messaging app called Wyth into the iTunes Store with zero fanfare. I've been tracking the startup since last May, but the founders aren't saying much and the website is still in "coming soon" mode. Pencil raised some early funding in 2013 from two Cambridge venture capital firms, Matrix Partners and Charles River Ventures.
Dan Abdinoor and Patrick Fitzsimmons freely admit they learned about how to be managers on the fly. Both were among the first ten employees at HubSpot, the Cambridge digital marketing firm, and they say they learned about managing people by observing more senior colleagues with more experience, and by reading. "I read Good to Great, The One-Minute Manager, and a bunch of Harvard Business School case studies based on what my managers recommended to me," says Abdinoor.
Their new startup, Grokky, wants to help others who are new to the management ranks get better, faster.
Read MoreFashion statementCan a Harwich startup turn wooden shades into a summer classic?
The three founders of Cape Codder Sunglasses had a pretty good summer in 2013. A single retailer ordered 400 pairs — basically, the startup's entire stock at the time — and by the time the trio went back to college in the fall, they'd sold about 1200 pairs of the wood-framed shades, which sell for $90 and up. This year, having just graduated from Boston College and Yale, they're testing the waters of crowdfunding.
Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and the Convergence Forum. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.