Boston New Technology Startup Showcase #99: FinTech and Blockchain

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 99

March 18, 2019

I always enjoy attending Boston New Technology’s startup showcases. A not-for-profit, community-supported network of 24,000 business professionals, Boston New Technology’s mission is to help Boston’s local technology startups launch and grow.

March’s showcase, BNT99, featured local FinTech and Blockchain startups. It was hosted at Foley Hoag in Boston’s Seaport district.

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 99: Foley Hoag LLP in Boston, MA

Andes Wealth presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

After an hour of food, drinks, and networking, the presentation portion of the evening began.

As usual, Chris Requena led with a brief introduction, followed by quick 30-second introductions/pitches by the sponsors who were in attendance. This evening, we heard from the following sponsors: Foley Hoag, Ink’d Stores, Chuck Goldstone: Strategies and Stories, Your Profile Video, and Tom Maloney, Coach: Climbing the Success Ladder.

Tunnel presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

The quick sponsor introductions were followed by the meat of the program, five-minute presentations (plus five minute Q&A time) by each of the evening’s eight showcasing startups. As always, my notes are brief – perhaps moreso than usual, as a few days passed before I found time to summarize the event – so I’d encourage you to follow the links if you seek any more information, and then contact the companies directly if you have a particular interest.

Products & Presenters

Coalesce presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Andes Wealth showcased PrecisionRisk™, its tool to help financial advisors and investors identify investors’ risk and behavior traits and manage accordingly. This tool allows advisors to create detailed investor profiles and manage their investments more individually with greater ease. If this sounds interesting, after starting with the website, I’d also recommend viewing this YouTube promotional video to find additional information.

MedTrace presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Tunnel Payments‘ distributed ledger system is a system for completing real-time, secure, low cost payments in the cloud. (Please go to the website for details beyond my high-level description.)

Coalesce, per its BNT event description, “uses AI to automate compliance and fraud monitoring for financial services.” A couple highlights I noted from the presentation are that it can be used to automate repetitive, tedious work and that, via natural language processing, one of the things it can excel at is identifying negative news reporting.

TeraBiz presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

MedTrace, you realize if you follow the link on the BNT99 event page, is just one of the supply chain tracing solutions being pursued by the team per the Traceability Site website, whose site lists solutions for many other industry verticals, as well. As showcased at the event, MedTrace uses blockchain to provide end-to-end visibility, tracing legitimate medication packages and identifying counterfeit medication when it attempts to enter the supply chain.

TeraBiz stood out after the evening’s earlier presentations due to its traditional financial service technology platform – it’s a SaaS product, not blockchain. It’s a SaaS-based business management software platform whose functionality and comprehensiveness position it as a solid competitor to industry giants like SAP Ariba, Coupa, Oracle, and others.

Eden GeoPower presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Eden GeoPower showcased its strategy for utilizing the high energy demands of cryptocurrency mining to finance the development and construction of renewable geothermal energy projects. Notably, a highlight and central point of the evening’s presentation was how a power plant’s cost can be paid for by the profit of mining cryptocurrency. I’m looking forward to digging deeper into this startup.

Esprezzo is billed in the BNT99 literature as “the developer’s bridge to the blockchain.” It’s a middleware platform that makes it easier for developers to include blockchain in their work. I’d urge you to attend an Esprezzo presentation, and you’ll find it quite easy to understand.

Esprezzo presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Knox is a service provider that helps homeowners when turn their soon-to-be-former home into a passive investment by streamlining the process of converting a primary residence to an income property, finding good tenants, and managing the property. Obviously, it doesn’t just apply to turning your house into an investment property when you move, but that’s the idea that spawned Knox, and the company’s structure is designed to make that particular circumstance easy. In the end, though, this is a property management firm that handles individual owners’ rentals. Notably, applying to be in Knox’s program doesn’t mean automatic acceptance. The company intends to ensure its success by being selective.

Knox presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Looking Ahead

Next month’s BNT startup showcase, BNT100, is scheduled for April 23rd, and it will feature AI and IoT startups. Check out BNT’s upcoming event calendar here at its website for other events, too. For example, there’s an April 17th event on tap featuring two presentations: “Ten Things Startups Need to Know about Intellectual Property” presented by Moses Heyward, Of Counsel, Patent Attorney, Fish & Richardson P.C. and “How To Protect Your Company Against Patent Troll Litigation” presented by Ken Seddon, Chief Executive Officer at LOT Network.

Though I’ll probably miss the April 17th event, I do hope to attend the April 23rd showcase, schedule permitting. Hope to see you there.

Mass Innovation Nights 120: Brandeis-Affiliated Startups

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Mass Innovation Nights 120

March 14, 2019

On Thursday, March 14th, Mass Innovation Nights returned to Brandeis University, one year to the day of its last visit to this Waltham university campus.

MIN Expert Corner: Rong Zhou and Nazita Gamini, Entrepreneurial Leads for the I-Corps National Teams program; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Every month, Mass Innovation Nights features startups from around Massachusetts. On this particular night, the theme was connected to the location, as all of the startups had a Brandeis connection.

Mass Innovation Nights always assembles a terrific event. It’s a little less tech-heavy than the other events I cover, since its focus isn’t specifically or solely on tech companies, but I’m always pleased to support local businesses and to shine a light on local entrepreneurs, tech or otherwise.

Mass Innovation Nights 120: Brandeis Faculty Club at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA

The event always kicks off with an hour of networking, allowing attendees to talk with the exhibiting companies and learn more about them. It’s during this time the attendees vote on their favorite showcasing startups, with the top four vote-getters receiving prizes. This isn’t the only voting taking place in relation to Mass Innovation Nights (MIN); prior to the event, voting occurs on the MIN website, and the top four pre-event vote-getters are selected to give presentations at the event.

GreenChoice presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

The presentation phase of the evening kicks off with brief presentations by the “Expert Corner” experts, followed by presentations from the four pre-event vote winnings startups.

The evening’s “experts” were Ben Gomes-Casseres, a professor at the Brandeis International Business School; Ian Roy of the Brandeis University MakerLab; Nazita Gamini and Rong Zhou, Brandeis Licensing Associates representing the National Science Foundation I-Corps (Innovation Corps) National Teams program; Jordana Goodman of Danielson Legal LLC; and Christina Inge of Thoughtlight, experienced with leading digital strategy and managing complex mar-tech projects.

Flora on the Menorah presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

The presenting startups were GreenChoice, Flora on the Menorah, Branda, and SciLinkR. At-event voting winners were Roselle Cosmetics, SciLinkR, GreenLabs, and GreenChoice.

Following are brief overviews of the startups featured at MIN 120. As always, these are high-level overviews based on the website, handouts, discussions, and presentations. If you’re interested, please dig in deeper on your own in case I’ve missed or misunderstood something important. I include links for you; their websites are a good place to start your deeper dive.

SciLinkR is a website that connects educators and scientists nationwide, an ideal way to help put scientists in the classroom or to arrange field trips so students can see scientists at work.

Branda presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Keysie Key Wallets are a new way to help keys be easy to find, multi-functioning as mini-wallets as well. At the booth, Keysie was also showcasing a similar product designed for hockey families, specifically to keep mouthguards from resting at the bottom of stinky hockey bags between games.

Branda is a particularly interesting showcased product. Utilizing a variety of information sources, this app allows Brandeis students to connect with campus services and information, ranging from obvious things like aggregating news and the hours for places and events on campus to more interesting things like tracking the bus routes to anticipate arrival times or identifying how many (and which) washing machines are available and how much time is left on them.

GreenLabs solves a problem likely only known to people who work at research facilities, where pipette tip boxes are often tossed as medical waste when recycled with standard recycling and, therefore, though clean, are difficult to recycle. GreenLabs Recycling Service solves that problem by collecting and recycling these plastic boxes.

SciLinkR presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Flora on the Menorah is Chanukah’s answer to Elf on the Shelf. It’s a book, plush menorah with removable candles, and plush flower, “Flora.” Adorable.

GreenChoice also appeared at last year’s Brandeis-themed Mass Innovation Nights event, MIN108. The GreenChoice app went live on the very day of MIN120, so it was a big day for this local green startup favorite. GreenChoice is a platform that allows people to grocery shop in line with their health, ethics, and sustainability preferences, also containing pricing information, too.

At-event voting winners; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Roselle Cosmetics, showcasing both lipstick and chapstick at MIN120, is a company that makes organic, non-toxic, eco-friendly lip products at a reasonable cost. I’m far from an expert in this space, but it certainly sounds like a welcome addition that serves a potentially profitable market niche.

The Brandeis MakerLab and Brandeis Innovation also had booths at the evening’s event.


Thus concludes another Mass Innovation Nights event summary. In addition to the links I provided, you can find company information by following this link and then clicking on the “Vote Here” tab of the MIN 120 web page.

Next month’s event, MIN121, is scheduled for April 11 at the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub in Lowell, MA. Barring an unexpected scheduling conflict, I’ll be there. If you can get to it, it should be another terrific showcase of innovation Massachusetts startups.

Oracle Innovation Meetup: Financial Services Industry

Oracle in Burlington
photo by Geoff Wilbur

Oracle Innovation Meetup: Financial Services Industry

Burlington, MA

March 12, 2019

On Tuesday, March 12th, I attended a Financial Services Industry-themed Oracle Innovation Meetup hosted at the Oracle Cloud Solutions Hub in Burlington. As a telecom and tech industry analyst, I was, of course, well aware of Oracle’s strengths and weaknesses, but financial services is an industry vertical I haven’t touched on much within the tech space, so I was really looking forward to this event as an opportunity to stretch my fintech knowledge. So before the event, I wasn’t aware of Oracle’s positioning in this space, though the company’s database strength would seem to be a logical strength to build upon. In this brief write-up, I’ll note some of the things I learned on Tuesday, though since I’m not an expert please do reach out to Oracle or its partner companies for more information about the showcased products and capabilities. Indeed, since this was mostly an information-gathering and learning mission for me, I’ll dispense with any attempt at insights this early into my fintech research cycle and simply summarize what I saw.

The event was divided into ten demo stations, with presentations given at each stop by Oracle employees and, in a few cases, by partnering companies whose products were built upon and operate with Oracle products. As I walk through the event, I’ll give a very brief summary and include helpful links so you can investigate more yourself.

The purpose of the event was to showcase Oracle’s “innovation focus,” how through its innovation center it works to combine the best of its technologies and ecosystem with innovations in the fintech ecosystem to help banks and financial service customers drive innovation and value faster.

The kickoff presentation provided a broad overview of Oracle’s financial services offerings, including slides showing how Oracle’s Financial Services Innovation “Lego Kit” could help clients assemble innovative, client-specific solutions.

Autonomous Corner: Before attendees selected the order in which they wanted to visit the various stations, the demonstrations then kicked off with a detailed presentation for the entire group about Oracle’s Autonomous Database, detailing and differentiating it from other cloud information management platforms.

ATM Fraud Detection: The ATM fraud detection demo was interesting, showing how Oracle’s cloud solutions combined with machine learning to detect potentially fraudulent transactions, including a step-by-step live walkthrough.

Digital Transformation with Amelia (powered by IPsoft): This was a demonstration of Oracle partner IPsoft’s Amelia, its interactive AI platform for the insurance industry. There’s no better way than a demonstration to really appreciate this offering. As noted in the pre-event text, “The preconfigured insurance agent is ready to handle insurance queries for auto, claims, life, and P&C business and transform your service centers allowing you to have relevant and compliant digital conversations with your clients.” This is a specific product I look forward to digging into and learning more about in the coming weeks.

Oracle Financial Services Analytical Applications: There was a station that showed off Oracle’s financial services analytical applications; if I’m not mistaken, this stop focused on the building block nature of Oracle’s applications, recapping a theme from the introductory presentation.

Onboarding for Wealth (powered by Appway): Oracle partner Appway showcased its Onboarding for Wealth solution, which streamlines onboarding for wealth managers. The live demonstration of the solution helped drive home the point of its ease-of-use. Yet another reason why I always prefer to see software products demonstrated rather than just reading about their capabilities.

Enterprise Security: This demo showcased Oracle’s enterprise security capabilities. Again a live demo of a data set, Oracle’s representative walked through the signs of a cyberattack and investigated in real-time, highlighting suspicious activities and even showing how nefarious activities that flew undiscovered under the radar could be uncovered with just a little sleuthing using the showcased software.

Smarter Underwriting (powered by IPsoft): This station showed off Oracle partner IPsoft’s “smart underwriting agent” that speeds up the underwriting process by performing information searches automatically. IPsoft’s FRP (Financial Risk Profiler) mines the Internet to build a risk profile on a loan applicant in near real time, saving time by gathering the data without requiring the underwriter to perform more labor- and time-intensive manual searches that could result in less-complete information.

Biometric Multi-Factor Authentication (powered by Daon): Oracle partner Daon showcased its multi-factor biometrics authentication feature. One of the neat things about this offering is its ability to be more secure with also providing an easier digital experience.

Compliance Corner: The event featured a stop to discuss compliance issues and share resources.

Oracle Digital Innovation Platform for Open Banking: This detailed, multi-part open banking demo stepped through a variety of banking interactions that could be set up using Oracle’s tools. Quite impressive, crossing a variety of formats and touchpoints, covering many types of interactions.

In Conclusion

I hope you’ve found this summary helpful. I generally don’t share much in the way of thoughts this early into researching a sector, but I’m always glad to share information that would be helpful to others in this blog. I look forward to other vendors reaching out to me to share information about their products and services serving the financial services market and will continue to attend events that provide learning opportunities as they present themselves. And when I’m actively working on a project in this sector, I’ll actively seek out some of you in this industry I haven’t spoken with (and circle back with those of you I have).

For now, by the way, as I’ve recently made the transition to independent industry analyst, you can find my current consulting website by clicking here. (Please pardon the bare-bones web design – or relative lack of web design – if you follow that link.)

Indeed, I love events like this where it’s easy to learn a lot in a short period of time. Events like this are a great way to stay current on the latest trends in the tech industry, as well as to learn about new segments/verticals and to learn about vendors’ product offerings. For this event, thanks to Oracle for hosting; I look forward to more informational events at Oracle and other area tech companies.

Note to event organizers: I generally don’t assume local tech events are suited to blogging, so if you’d like me to write about your event, let me know, either at the event or, better yet, in advance. I’ll then take a different type of notes (and a few pictures, if you’d like) if the event lends itself to more than just brief text with photos. And if you share some material that will make it easier for me to accurately write about the event, that’ll help, too. In this case, the pre-event ticketing website was a big help in structuring this piece. In other situations, copies of slide decks or synopses of the talks would facilitate more than just a cursory overview.