Boston New Technology Startup Showcase #93

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 93

September 18, 2018

Proximate presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

This month’s BNT was hosted at Foley Hoag in Boston’s Seaport District on Tuesday, September 18th.

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 93: Foley Hoag in Boston, MA

In typical fashion, food and networking kicked off the BNT Startup Showcase. And, as usual, some of the event sponsors had booths (tables) set up for the evening.

I didn’t get a chance to talk to all the exhibitors, but I did speak with WordPress experts TRBdesign, HR solutions firm TriNet, and peer-to-peer car sharing/renting company Getaround.

WorkAround presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

The presentations began about an hour into the event. First, the sponsors were given a minute or two each to talk. Then the startups presented. Each presentation was 5 minutes, with another 5 minutes allocated to Q&A.

Following, I’ll write a little about each of the presenters, including my best understanding of who they are and what they do. Obviously, if something intrigues you, don’t rely on the accuracy of my description. Instead, check out the websites and contact the companies for yourself. Because if you’re interested, you’re probably a much bigger expert in that product area than I am, so you’ll know better which questions to ask.

URSA Idetic presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Proximate bills itself as Sales Intelligence as a Service. It taps a company’s sales history and scores its leads. Via personalization, predictive intelligence, and analysis of leads, Proximate is a cutting-edge customer relationship management (CRM) tool. As noted in the Q&A period, Proximate can be layered on top of a company’s existing CRM.

WorkAround is a service that helps companies source online work to skilled refugees. Refugees may be highly skilled but are not allowed to work in their host countries. This is a solution to that problem; with Internet access, they are able to work virtually for companies elsewhere. It was interesting to see some of the WorkAround advances since I first heard the company’s CEO speak at a Mass Innovation Nights event back in March. Notably, the new aspects of the client interface.

Cluster Audio presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

URSA Idetic is an “autonomous systems intelligence platform.” Or, per its name, Unmanned Robotics Systems Analysis. Simply: Drone intelligence. With early military work likely to make venture capital completely unnecessary for URSA Idetic, this is a rare startup that may be able to grow fast enough based on its early revenue. The company’s goal is to be the source of autonomous systems data.

Cluster Audio‘s CA550 Speaker System is a tactile audio system that allows gamers and movie watchers to feel the sound. Described to us as un-technically as possible, Cluster Audio’s “Sound Sleeve” is a subwoofer inside a cushion you can drape over your couch. Of course, personally, with my music interests, I’m curious about how this system will help me “feel” my favorite tunes. I need to somehow arrange for a test-drive.

Ridj-It presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Ridj-it‘s slogan is “Carpool your way to adventure!” It’s a “travel tech platform” that allows drivers and riders to organize adventures, while connecting them with small businesses for discounted booking rates. This first struck me as an adventure-travel/day-trip focused, specialized and supersized version of Meetup serving a specific market. But for that market, it seems like a great idea. It’s specialized enough that a more broadly focused competitor would have difficulty duplicating the experience.

Thoughtblox presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Thoughtblox is a knowledge-sharing system. Per its own promo, “transforming mailing lists to engaged knowledge networks.” Unlike existing communication platforms and knowledge-sharing systems, Thoughtblox uses filters rather than folders to facilitate information-finding. When reading about Thoughtblox before the event, it was tough for me to visualize from a text description, but after seeing the brief demonstration during the presentation, the interface is quite slick and user-friendly.

Spiro presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Spiro is an AI-driven sales automation system. A CRM tool that serves as a reminder system, learning from its user and tailoring itself to the user’s needs. I jotted down the four short sentences that describe Sprio: It observes. It recommends. It learns. it guides. After just the brief demo during the presentation, I walked away exceptionally impressed.

As usual, it was another great BNT event. I’m already looking forward to next month’s BNT, scheduled for October 16th and slated to feature HealthTech startups. If my schedule permits, I’ll see you there.

Mass Innovation Nights 114: AI, Robotics, and CleanTech

Mass Innovation Nights 114

September 13, 2018

Mass Innovation Nights features startup companies from around Massachusetts. This month’s Mass Innovation Nights was hosted by MathWorks in Natick.  The theme for the evening was AI, robotics, and clean tech.

Mass Innovation Nights 114: MathWorks in Natick MA

MIN114 At-Event Voting Winners; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Mass Innovation Nights begins with an hour to network, grab food from the buffet, and visit with exhibiting startups at their display tables, providing attendees with an opportunity to converse with the companies in attendance while snacking on food provided by the event sponsor. Then the presentations begin, featuring the evening’s host, the “Expert Corner” experts, and the four exhibitors who win a pre-event vote on the Mass Innovation Nights website.  Presenters as a result of the pre-event voting were The Robot Wand, Reason8, Kestrel Agritech, and Proximie. Awards are also given based on at-event voting (during the networking hour) by attendees. At-event winners were Proximie, WaveSense, Kestrel Agritech, and The Robot Wand.

MIN’s Bobbie Carlton; photo by Geoff Wilbur

As usual, when I attend one of the startup showcase events, I’ll provide a quick overview of the featured companies based on information available through Mass Innovation Nights (website and handouts), the four presentations, and my conversations with some of the company representatives at the event. My observations will generally be very cursory. If you’re interested in additional detail about some of this month’s showcasing companies, you can follow the links I provide for more information.

Altaeros booth at MIN114; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Altaeros helps provide remote wireless access to rural communities and other hard-to-reach locations via its SuperTower, which looks like a blimp. (See picture; demo table balloon, obviously, is not actual size.) Tethered and able to be raised and lowered – to top off the helium, for example – it serves as a wireless antenna covering an expansive area.

WaveSense uses ground-penetrating radar to allow self-driving vehicles to more easily navigate roads in inclement conditions – where road markings may be obscured by snow, for example – because it allows the vehicles to know where the roads are based on the geological (and man-made) features beneath the road.

The Robot Wand presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

BluCloud‘s “Gateway Blu” makes analytic data available anywhere anytime by transporting that analytic data cellularly. I first encountered BluCloud back in May at a Boston New Technology showcase. Because I had met them before, I didn’t spend time chatting with BluCloud at this event, but you can read my much more detailed account in this summary I wrote about the BNT event in May. If I had found time to chat with BluCloud, I would have asked how their customer penetration has progressed since then, since they already had a few customers and a lot of locations connected this spring.

Reason8 presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Reason8 is an app that takes meeting notes for you. In addition to transcribing the meeting, the app summarizes the meeting and provides a list of what it determines are likely action items; more advanced features continue to be in development. Reason8 is currently designed to target notetaking at in-person meetings.

Quinncia is an AI-based interview preparation tool geared toward university students. I previously learned about Quinncia at the Boston New Technology showcase in February.

Kestrel Agritech presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Electrona Robotics‘ Pilotfish remote submersible is a reasonably priced option for shooting HD video underwater, designed as an option for those who require remote underwater filming that in a relatively robust format at an affordable cost.

Kestrel Agritech is a drone-based crop monitoring and pest detection system that uses thermal imaging to help detect, analyze, and notify farmers of pests so farmers can take targeted, quick action.

Proximie presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Southie Autonomy‘s The Robot Wand is robot-agnostic software that creates a platform to control robots using verbal commands and gestures. This can be useful in areas like material handling. During the Q&A at the end of the Robot Wand presentation, its presenter noted that current markets where this is in high demand include heavy manufacturing and test kitting (e.g., 23 and Me)

Electrona Robotics Pilotfish booth at MIN114; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Yobe Inc.‘s VISPR is able to identify speakers’ voices in high noise environments. On the VISPR website, it is described as a “voice identification system for user profile retrieval.”

SkyMan Unlimited is a team of FAA-certified remote pilots who fly drones (“unmanned aerial vehicles”) for commercial and industrial clients.

Proximie is a platform for the healthcare industry. It is designed to facilitate collaboration and remote assistance via augmented reality (AR).

WaveSense booth at MIN114; photo by Geoff Wilbur

3D Educational Services (3DES) is a low-cost robotics kit geared toward 7th and 8th grade. It is meant to help bring robotics into the classroom and help inspire students’ interest.


As always, I’ve done my best to accurately portray the exhibiting companies and their products based upon the pre-event materials and the conversations I had with attendees. You can find company information also by following this link and then clicking on the “Vote Here” tab of the MIN 114 web page. I’ve also included hotlinks to the each of the exhibiting companies’ websites so you can get information beyond my brief introductions.

It was, as always, a pleasure to see some of the emerging companies on the Boston area’s startup scene. Next month’s Mass Innovation Night will be MIN’s 5th Annual Women Founders event. Sponsored by Boston Scientific (with supporting sponsor Brownmed), Mass Innovation Nights 115 will be held on Monday, October 15th at District Hall in Boston.