The Butler Did It
Hello Alfred raises $10.5 million in Series A round for on-demand assistants
Hello Alfred co-founders Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck (Via Hello Alfred).
Over the past five months, the on-demand butlers working for Hello Alfred have worked over 40,000 hours, dry cleaned 57,600 shirts, delivered 3,326 pounds of dog food and carefully arranged 1,280 bouquets in homes. Now, the startup has another number it can point to to show its success: the $10.5 million it's just raised in a Series A round lead by NEA and Spark Capital. Read More
Localytics acquires Splitforce, adds machine learning to app marketing software
Localytics chief executive and cofounder Raj Aggarwal.
Localytics, the Boston-based app analytics and marketing company, turned heads last month when it raised $35 million in a Series D round. The influx of cash — it's raised $58 million in total — made Localytics the most well-funded startup to come out of the competitive Techstars accelerator program. Today, it's become clearer what that money could be going toward: the company announced the acquisition of Splitforce, a three-year-old startup that helps companies test their apps, for an undisclosed sum. 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
A Wordpress for genetic data, Curoverse opens in beta to researchers
Anyone collecting data needs a place to put it. Harvard geneticist George Church felt that need acutely in the early days of his Personal Genome Project: It was the early 2000s, and he had the audacious goal of sequencing some 100,000 human genomes — each 25,000 times the size of a traditional electronic record. But though his vision was ripe, the infrastructure to store and manipulate these titanic data sets wasn't. Church commissioned Alexander Wait Zaranek, a computer science researcher in his lab, to scope out the tools available to work through such large data sets. When none were available, Zaranek and his Church lab colleagues Ward Vandewege and Tom Clegg began building their own. And so, Arvados was born. Read More
Play Ball!
Parking apps help Fenway fans get a leg up on Opening Day
Globe Staff/Lane Turner
Jason Heard got to Fenway Park at noon for Monday’s Red Sox home opener, but he wasn’t there to watch the game. Instead, Heard was working for a parking lot tucked behind the ballpark, waving cars into an alley with a bright orange flag. Fifty dollars per carload for the prime spots. If that seems steep, the market didn’t think so — an hour and a half before the first pitch, Heard was using his flag to tell people there were no more spots to be had. Read More
No glasses required
An animated short film, one 3-D piece at a time
"Chase Me" is a two-minute stop-action film that was created entirely by using a Formlabs printer.
Last November, Formlabs, the Somerville-based maker of 3-D printers, received a call from Paris. It was digital artist Gilles-Alexandre Deschaud with questions about a massive printing project. Could they help? The Formlabs staffer asked him to describe his project; Deschaud instead sent an email containing a clip of a film he was making, “Chase Me.” Read More
a lettuce a day
Grove Labs to ship its chic, in-home veggie gardens to first customers this spring
A two-tower grove with founders Gabe Blanchet (left) and Jamie Byron. (Photo: Aram Boghosian)

Tomatoes year round, fresh-picked fish-fed kale: These are dreams that Grove Labs claims to make real. An idea for an in-home garden nourished by detritus from a fish tank germinated in the MIT dorm room of Gabe Blanchet and Jamie Byron when they were freshmen. Five years later, after launching a company and picking up $2 million in seed funding, the duo are shipping the first of their "indoor ecosystems" to early adopters in the Boston area.

Even when the sidewalks were icy and a chill hung in the air, it was toasty inside the testing space at Somerville eco-startup Grove Labs, where the air always smells of damp soil and sawdust.

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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
At this Robot Zoo in Cambridge, there’s a mechanical menagerie

One day each spring, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School’s field house becomes a hub of interspecies interaction, a bustling place where humans mingle with a menagerie of creatures that can scamper, hop, and fly around the room. Instead of animals, though, the creatures are artificial agents, on display as part of the Cambridge Science Festival’s celebration of robotics technology.

Robot Zoo, a kid-friendly event — which this year takes place April 18, in conjunction with the festival’s Science Carnival — connects the public with engineers, researchers, inventors, and students involved in robotics research and design. Visitors learn about dozens of different kinds of robots and can play with many of them directly.

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