Innovation Economy

142 stories
Managerial nudges
HubSpot veterans launch Grokky, looking to upgrade managerial feedback
Grokky co-founders Patrick Fitzsimmons and Dan Abdinoor.
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 More
Fashion statement
Can a Harwich startup turn wooden shades into a summer classic?
Cape Codder glasses are assembled in Harwich, from components made in the U.S. and China.
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. Read More
New tack for tracking startup
Cargo tracking startup Weft shifts focus from hardware to software
Weft CEO Marc Held.
When last I connected with Weft founder and CEO Marc Held, in November of last year, he was designing a new kind of tracking device for shipping containers that could keep tabs on not just location, but temperature, humidity, and vibration as well. But now the Cambridge company is shifting its focus to developing software that can gather and analyze data from trackers made by other firms, Held says. Read More
Offshore entrepreneurs
Audio and pics from last week's Nantucket Conference: BOS + NYC
Shutterstock CEO Jon Oringer and Constant Contact CEO Gail Goodman, on stage at the conference.
The theme of last week's Nantucket Conference on Entrepreneurship & Innovation was "BOS + NYC," and the event brought together founders and venture capitalists from both cities. Thankfully, there wasn't too much sports trash talk, or comparisons of the startup scene in the two cities. Read More
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