Innovation Economy

140 stories
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
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