Innovation Economy

204 stories
Power of suggestion
Soon-to-launch Chef Nightly app wants to streamline ordering dinner
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"Hal, order sushi for two tonight." A Westford startup called Every Labs is working on the artificially intelligent food-ordering app of the future. While the company's Chef Nightly app isn't yet publicly available, a handful of Bostonians have been testing it in recent weeks. And the company has already raised early funding from the startup incubator Blade and Boston Syndicates, a group that includes individual investors and the Cambridge venture capital firm Atlas Venture. Read More
Designing the future of design
Audio: Onshape chairman Jon Hirschtick on CAD, 3D printing, and more
Onshape's web-based software for designing products.
My most recent Boston Globe column focuses on Jon Hirschtick and the team of entrepreneurs behind Onshape, a Cambridge startup that is launching the beta version of its product today. Hirschtick and several other key Onshape team members, like chief executive John McEleney, were previously founders of SolidWorks, a company that pioneered computer-aided design software for Windows PCs. This time, they're building a Web-based application that will run on just about any device — including smartphones and tablets. Read More
Planting a flag in the States
TechHub, shared workspace born in UK, will open first US location in Somerville
From left: Stewart Noakes, Co-Founder at TechHub Boston, William "Bill" Hilton, Partner at Gesmer Updegrove, and Elizabeth Varley, Founder of TechHub Global. Taken last month at a TechHub pre-launch event at Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville.
Need a desk in Bangalore one week and Davis Square the next? TechHub, which operates a network of co-working spaces in India, Romania, Latvia, and the United Kingdom, plans to open in Somerville this month. And much like a card that will give you access to frequent flier lounges, a TechHub membership will let you work in any of the locations as you jet around the globe. TechHub was founded in London in 2010. Read More
A Keurig for rink rats?
Sparx Hockey debuting $599 home skate sharpening device
The Sparx Skate Sharpener. (Company-supplied photo.)
If you’re a hockey player, or you have one in your family, Russell Layton thinks he knows the errand you hate the most: taking in skates to get sharpened. It’s even a chore for professional teams, whose players like to give their skates a glistening fresh edge every game — “and sometimes, in between periods,” said Layton. He played club hockey at Northeastern in the 1990s, and worked as an engineer in the healthcare and telecom industries. But Layton said he became a bit obsessed with the dull blade dilemma. Read More
Trading triumph
Quantopian hands $100,000 account to winning algorithm writer
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Whose automatic stock-trading algorithm has the hottest hand? Quantopian, a Boston startup, ran a contest in February to find out. The winner? A trading program created by Grant Kiehne, an optics engineer who works for Northrup Grumman in Connecticut. Kiehne will get a $100,000 account to manage — and he'll get to pocket any profits. Read More
Just wingin' it
Soaring investment and lagging legislation — it's a Wild West for drones
The PARC drone from CyPhy Works is tethered to a controller by a microfilament cable that sends power up to the drone and downloads high-definition video. (Photo: Cyphy Works)
Andrew Kehlenbeck pulls up a shirtsleeve and exposes a few linear scars on his forearm. They’re slashes from the plastic propeller of a small drone — a very modern sort of workplace injury. Kehlenbeck is co-founder and lead engineer at Panoptes Systems in Cambridge, and he is designing a safety system to keep unmanned aircraft from hitting walls, ceilings, trees, and people. Panoptes is just one of the local companies hoping to benefit from a soaring hobbyist drone market and an expected surge in sales to businesses. Read More
Raked, bagged, and carted away
In restructuring, Heartland Payment slashes most of Cambridge-based Leaf team
LEaf payments
You may have encountered the technology from Leaf at local businesses like Voltage Coffee, Aceituna Cafe, or Garlic & Lemons: instead of a cash register on the counter, a small Android tablet sits on a pedestal. After the cashier rings you up by tapping the screen a few times, he swipes your credit card and asks you to sign the screen instead of a receipt. Leaf's software could provide merchants with reports on what had been selling well, and it also tracked workers' hours. Cambridge-based Leaf aimed to dramatically undercut the big sellers of registers (also known as point-of-sale systems), selling its tablet for $250 and the accompanying software for $50 per month. Read More
Lunchtime fun
CyPhy's drones capture company snowboarding breaks in Danvers
Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 8.31.02 PM
What would you do if a couple feet of fresh snow fell... and right outside your office door was a small hill? Oh, and your CEO was an avid snowboarder? And your company made small drones with built-in cameras? The answer at Danvers-based CyPhy Works was clear: institute snowboarding lunch breaks, filmed from the skies. The runs aren't very long, but CyPhy CEO Helen Greiner says the walk back up the hill is good exercise. While many of CyPhy's employees are mechanical engineers, Greiner says "they haven't built me a lift yet." (That's Greiner, who was previously a co-founder of iRobot Corp., going off a jump in the image above.) Read More
Dept. of Good Clean Fun
Swedish import Boda Borg will bring 'questing' to Boston area
Boda Borg is a chain of indoor "questing" facilities. (Photo courtesy of the company.)
Ready to go questing? Brookline entrepreneur Chad Ellis is planning to open an indoor “questing” center this summer, importing a concept from Sweden called Boda Borg, which blends obstacle courses with puzzle-solving. Some of the quests are so challenging, says Ellis, that only one percent of visitors can complete them — and that’s usually after a few attempts. Read More
Party people
Jobble wants to create a marketplace for event staffers
From left: Jobble founders Corey Bober, Zack Smith, and Matthew Osofisan.
Your company is throwing a cocktail shindig and you need someone to staff the check-in table for two hours. How do you fill that kind of extremely short-term gig? A startup with roots on two local campuses, Jobble, has built a mobile app and website that will try to supply a solution. Jobble is a marketplace for event staffers available for such tasks as handing out flyers at a festival or helping assemble a trade show booth. The startup will handle payments to event staffers, taking a 20 percent fee off the top. Jobble says it has seven companies lined up to beta test the service. Read More