Innovation Economy

192 stories
Fill-in-the-blank forecasting
Mad Libs predictions: What Boston techies and investors expect in 2015
Google's latest self-driving vehicle prototype.
Crowdsourcing — the new coinage for “getting other people to do your work” — was one of the business world’s big trends in 2014. And this week, I’m milking it for all it’s worth. Instead of coming up with my own predictions for the year ahead, I created a list of fill-in-the-blank statements and sent them to a bunch of local digerati. Crowdsourcing in action! Read More
Teikametrics helps Amazon.com merchants figure out what to stock — and how to price it
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Teikametrics is one of those behind-the-scenes players that may have been involved in some of your online gift-buying this month. The Boston-based startup offers analytic services to companies that sell goods on Amazon.com — including local firms like Newbury Comics and Aubuchon Hardware. Among the questions Teikametrics can answer: How much inventory should a seller stock at various Amazon fulfillment centers to ensure quick delivery, anywhere in the world. Read More
No love for Bluetooth bracelet
Connected jewelry startup Magnet will head west to try to raise money
Alexander List's startup HeadTalk IO is a member of TechStars Boston.
Magnet co-founder and CEO Alexander List is moving to San Francisco to try to raise money for the startup, which was part of the most recent class of the Techstars Boston entrepreneurship program. The company, previously known as Headtalk IO, had been running a Kickstarter campaign that sought to raise $60,000 to produce the first batch of Magnet bracelets. But the startup hadn't hit that goal by the time the clock ran out last week — which in Kickstarter-land means no dough. Read More
Who's better, who's best?
New social site WhoQuest aims to help find the best person for the job
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How do you find the best person for the job, whether it's a gig playing your holiday party or designing a new logo for your company? A Boston startup called WhoQuest thinks it can supply the answer: just ask your social network, and let people vote the replies up or down. The recently unveiled site feels a bit like a people-focused version of Quora, the question-answering site that has raised about $160 million in funding. Read More
Beta Testing
Test ride: The prototype electric skateboard from Dash Electric
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It would be hard to come up with a shakier scenario for testing a prototype electric skateboard: slick sidewalks from recent rain, journalist who has never been on a longboard before, snow starting to blow, and a test course shared with bikers. The skateboard was designed by Dash Electric, a Boston startup founded by Northeastern University student Ian Carlson. Last month, Dash raised $15,000 in initial funding from Rough Draft Ventures, a student-run venture team that invests money on behalf of General Catalyst Partners, a Cambridge firm. Read More
One night only
Rock on! Boston tech conferences get an entertainment upgrade
Janelle Monáe plays HubSpot's annual customer conference in October. Photo by  Zac Wolf, courtesy of HubSpot.
In boom times for the tech industry, the bands playing the private parties and customer conferences get more recognizable. This year, acts like OK Go, Parliament Funkadelic, and the Dropkick Murphys have played for fist-pumping crowds of social media mavens, digital publishing gurus, and roboticists. Read More
Channeling the frustration
Mobile app Shelfie wants to let shoppers cash in on empty shelves
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Shelfie is not only an au courant name for an app, but a cool concept for these next few weeks of retail frenzy. Once you have the Android or iPhone apps, whenever there's a product you're hunting for that's out-of-stock, you use it to snap a picture of the empty shelf. The info about what's not there will be valuable to both retailers and product manufacturers, Shelfie posits. The shopper's reward? Points that can be converted into gift cards for use at places like Starbucks, Amazon, or Target. Read More
Finding a spot, made simpler
New wave of parking apps heading for Boston, with Veer first to launch
Aaron Kolenda and Jonathan Corbin, co-founders of the parking app Veer.
Has your mobile phone not quite eliminated the headache of parking in Harvard Square or the North End? A trio of new startups hope they can help — and none of them is  attempting to "monetize" city-controlled street spots, as the Baltimore startup Haystack tried to do this past summer. The first to launch is Veer, which shows up in Apple's iTunes Store today. Read More
Innovation Economy
Trolling campuses for the next Facebook
(From left) Barron Roth, John Moore, middle and Luke Sorensen discuss Downtyme during a development meeting at Boston University. (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
Two April days, separated by a decade. Two college sophomores walk into the Charles Square complex in Cambridge to meet with prospective investors. They’ve both built apps to help students communicate with friends on campus, and attracted a small community of users. Read More
Everything's coming up rosés
Drync wine app partners with retailers to offer pickup as option
Drync's mobile app lets users scan the label on bottles of wine to keep track of vintages they like — and re-order more.
Things are looking up for Bay State oenophiles. On Jan. 1, it becomes legal for wineries to ship their products directly to your doorstep. And starting this week, the Somerville startup Drync is making it possible to order a bottle or a case through its mobile app and pick it up at a local retailer. Read More
Where are they now?
Tracking the Microsoft Startup Labs diaspora
Former Startup Labs employee Pat Kinsel, standing and gesturing to the screen. Photo courtesy of Reed Sturtevant.
A little more than five years ago, I wrote about a re-org at Microsoft's internal Startup Labs product development group. It turned out to be curtains for the Cambridge-based team, led by Reed Sturtevant — even though their old Web address still optimistically implores visitors to "please come back later." But five years on, it's clear the 2009 shakeup and ensuing departures freed up a number of people who've gone on to pollinate the local startup scene. Read More
App team acquired
Airbnb picks up Pencil, Cambridge startup that built scheduling app
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Airbnb has quietly acquired a small Cambridge startup, Pencil Labs. Pencil Labs had built a scheduling app called Wyth that was intended to eliminate some of the headaches of coordinating get-togethers with friends. Three of the key players at Pencil, including co-founders Carla Pellicano and Han Shu, have already relocated to San Francisco, where Airbnb is based. Read More