Innovation Economy

206 stories
Up in the sky...
CyPhy Works unveils $500 drone for consumer photography and video
CyPhy's prototype LVL 1 drone, which will sell for about $500. The company plans to start shipments in February 2016.
While companies like 3DR, DJI, and Parrot all sell drones for less than $1,000, Helen Greiner, the founder of CyPhy Works, believes her company has designed the ultimate drone for consumers who want to shoot aerial photos and videos and easily share them with friends. The Danvers-based startup is launching a crowdfunding campaign today to see if consumers agree, aiming to raise $250,000 to green-light the production of a $500 drone called the LVL 1. She expects to begin delivering the new aircraft in early 2016. Read More
Startups build apps, seeking to capture fragile ideas
The MassChallenge marketing team -- (from left) Jeff Danford, Jibran Malek and Robby Bitting --test Bounce, a new app from IdeaPaint that helps capture whiteboard notes from meetings. WENDY MAEDA/GLOBE STAFF

A new wave of entrepreneurs are trying to solve an ancient problem: ever since we began to write on papyrus (3000 BC) and whiteboards (mid-1900s), we’ve encountered the problem of lost ideas. Scraps of paper go astray, brilliant diagrams get erased. If only there were way to capture ideas in digital form before they were lost — perhaps using that powerful computing device we hold in our hands for most of our waking hours.

In January, Joe Lemay and Jake Epstein had a eureka moment involving erasable pens, notebooks, and a microwave. When you rub an eraser against the heat-sensitive ink from certain erasable pens, friction causes the writing to vanish. So what would happen if you put a notebook full of writing into a microwave?

Read more at: www.bostonglobe.com

Beyond Kendall and the Innovation District
New CityStart hackathon wants to spread innovation to more neighborhoods
(Photo by David L. Ryan / Globe Staff)
A coalition of universities, tech companies, and the City of Boston are planning a new hackathon next month that aims to spread entrepreneurship and innovation to more corners of the city. CityStart Boston will take place May 30 at MassChallenge in the Innovation District, with a final judging session happening several weeks later. The plan, says organizer Monique Fuchs of the Wentworth Institute of Technology, is to bring together college students and entrepreneurs to tackle the problem of fostering startup activity in areas of the city that today have little. Read More
In the shadow of Apple Watch
After staff shuffle, Quanttus will unveil wrist-worn health monitor this month
Quanttus CEO Shahid Azim. (Photo by Scott Kirsner / BetaBoston.)
Amid all the hype about the Apple Watch, expected to start shipping later this week, a Cambridge startup working on a smartwatch of its own has stayed very quiet. But that will change on Friday, when Quanttus unveils the design of its first product on Friday at the Wired Health conference in London. Quanttus became the best-funded local startup working on wearable devices after it raised $19 million last February, which brought its total funding to about $22 million — but there have recently been a few high-profile departures at the company. Read More
Innovation Economy
For Boston's most cutting-edge biotech companies, all that's missing is the lab
Zafgen CEO Thomas Hughes at work in his office. LANE TURNER/GLOBE STAFF

Today's typical biotech tour may not include a swing through the lab — because there isn’t one. Chief executives now brag about the cost savings and flexibility of outsourcing everything from the design of a new drug to supervision of clinical trials to eventual manufacturing. “The only lab equipment we have here is the sink in the restroom,” says Tom Hughes, chief executive of Zafgen.

A decade ago, if you toured a biotech company in Cambridge, you would don plastic safety glasses and be shown through a brand-spanking-new lab, full of white-coated scientists monitoring experiments. The chief executive would boast about the sophisticated equipment, like imaging systems that could see a tumor shrink inside a rat, and how it would help them bring a new drug to market more quickly.

Read more at: www.bostonglobe.com

Immigration end-run
Venture capitalists open-source new visa approach for foreign-born founders
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Don't expect this kind of zippy action from your Congress... After having breakfast on Wednesday at the Mandarin Oriental in Boston, venture capitalists Brad Feld and Jeff Bussgang decided to "open-source" a novel strategy for creating more H1-B visas for entrepreneurs that was developed here in Massachusetts. By the end of the day, Bussgang had created the Global EIR Coaltion website, which urges other states to adopt the approach as a way of making it easier for founders to stay in the United States as they build their companies — something the current visa system can make complex and challenging. Read More
Stay because you want to, not because you have to
Communispace stops requiring employees to sign noncompetes
Communispace's Fenway Park-themed cafeteria/meeting space.
State legislators in Massachusetts have been debating the issue of employee noncompete agreements, which seek to keep employees from jumping to a rival, for at least seven years now. But despite Governor Deval Patrick proposing a ban on the contracts last year, nothing has changed. Most employers argue that noncompetes are an essential tool for retaining top talent; some venture capitalists and entrepreneurs say they smother startup activity and make it hard to bring on the experienced people young companies need as they grow. The vast majority of workers don't pay attention to them — until they start looking for their next job or get laid off, and realize that a noncompete can limit their options. Read More
Reading between the lines
Prattle Analytics parses Fed statements to predict the future (of interest rates)
Prattle Analytics co-founders Evan Schnidman and William MacMillan.
Should you make a trade based on what the Fed just said? Startup Prattle Analytics is building software that can parse the verbiage in the latest press releases and meeting minutes issued by the Federal Reserve Bank and other central banks around the world. And after raising $250,000 last September, the company has set up an office in Cambridge. Read More
How to make the Chamber of Commerce relevant to the innovation sector

Is Boston's Chamber of Commerce relevant to the city's startup community? Hardly. In Scott Kirsner's Innovation Economy column this week, he offers five ways that the new president of the chamber, James E. Rooney, can make the Chamber matter more, not just to entrepreneurs, but to everyone in Boston.

Not long ago, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce held a luncheon at the Westin Copley. The featured speaker was Walter Isaacson, author of "The Innovators," a book about the pioneers of the computing and Internet revolutions.

Read more at: www.bostonglobe.com

Fresh approach to selling underwear
Waltham startup Peach building a new lingerie brand around better fit
Peach co-founders Derek Ohly and Janet Kraus.
A lingerie startup in Waltham has been keeping a low profile, even after raising more than $3 million in venture capital. Peach is quietly assembling a network of commissioned sales agents around the country — the company calls them "stylists" — who will help market the company's line of bras, underwear, and hosiery. Peach's emphasis is on better-fitting lingerie, and the stylists will do measurements in customers' homes and their own, CEO Janet Kraus said. Read More
Pixability banks $18.2 million to help big brands connect with online video viewers
Pixability-Office-4063
Don't fear the pivot, says Pixability chief executive Bettina Hein. When she started the company in 2008, in the thick of the recession, the mission was to help small businesses make marketing videos cheaply. Pixability would even mail out a Flip video camera — remember those? — that business owners could shoot with. Pixability would edit the footage, adding logos, titles, and a soundtrack. Read More