Mass Innovation Nights 107: Startup Night in Lowell

Mass Innovation Nights 107Mass Innovation Nights 107

February 15, 2018

This month, Mass Innovation Nights held their startup showcase out along I-495, well away from Boston. This worked well for me, and it seems there are a lot of other tech and startup supporters who appreciated the visit to the outer suburbs and satellite cities like Lowell, as the event drew great attendance.

Mass Innovation Nights 107Mass Innovation Nights 107: UMass Lowell Innovation Hub in Lowell, MA

Every month, Mass Innovation Nights features presentations from the host, the “Expert Corner” experts, and exhibitors who win a pre-event vote on the Mass Innovation Nights website.  Presenters as a result of the pre-event voting were Wake Me, wmnHealth.org, Adopets, and Caide Systems. Awards were also given based on at-event voting. At-event winners were DSP Wireless, Exact Lux, Adopets, and Caide Systems.

Mass Innovation Nights 107I’ll take a quick run through the companies in attendance; you can follow the links for more information about them.

WakeMe is a social media alarm clock. It hopes to encourage people to get out of bed more easily by offering a positive experience, showing videos from friends and family when the alarm goes off. WakeMe’s presentation did a good job of identifying the numbers behind its millennial target market. Revenue streams include sponsors, automated advertising, and subscriptions. The subscription option brought to my mind an interesting question: How much would you pay to get a wake-up message every morning from your favorite Telecom & Tech blogger?

Mass Innovation Nights 107wmnHealth.org is Dynamicly Inc.‘s conversational platform for women about mental and neurological diseases. With the stated intent to promote conversation and research and development using AI and analytics, wmnHealth.org includes a daily flash briefing via Alexa. The dominant – or, at least, most attention-grabbing – feature is its chatbot, Marine. Perhaps, though, to avoid anti-chatbot backlash, I should refer to Marine as the website does, an “artificially intelligent virtual assistant powered by Dynamicly’s conversational computing technology.” Certainly, it’s an interesting concept worth digging into.

Mass Innovation Nights 107Adopets is a pet adoption management platform that allows people interested in adopting pets to view animals across locations. Provided at no cost to the shelters or the potential pet-adopting individuals. Instead, the Adopets hopes to monetize via post-adoption offerings.

CAIDE Systems has a proprietary artificial intelligence deep learning package that it has developed for medical AI. Its product can reduce the time taken to read a CT scan from possibly an hour to as few as two minutes or less, reducing human error in the process and potentially saving critical minutes in helping to diagnose brain stroke.

Mass Innovation Nights 107360 Properties LLC uses Matterport technology to create 3D virtual reality representations of real estate, allowing agents and property sellers to offer complete virtual tours. The detail offered in these tours is exceptional, with the web tours fully covering the views within and around the properties shown. In addition, the company had a virtual reality headset at its demo table that provided a very cool experience. Cool because, of course, it’s VR. It’s worth going to the 360 Properties website to explore for yourself.

DSP Wireless, whose specialty is “wireless electrophysiology interfaces for research and education” is showing its first product, it’s “RCB-W24A-LVDS WiFi interface for the Intan Technologies RHD2000 series of Electrophysiology amplifier boards.” It mentions product improvements that are in development, as well. Please do visit the company’s website for more details. I did enjoy watching DSPW’s product send simulated cockroach readings wireless to the computer. (As DSPW gladly clarified when asked, what the product was doing was live, not a simulation, but the cockroach wasn’t really there.)

Mass Innovation Nights 107Flos Horticultural Lighting: FLW900 is Exact Lux’s LED light designed to produce maximum yield from plants. Per Exact Lux, the FLW900 is the most powerful LED grow light currently manufactured. Beyond the obvious in-building horticultural products, Exact Lux discussed the company’s possible next frontier: chickens. But, initially, the business model’s first product target is a more obvious path.

axle ai is a media-finding tool from axle Video to content creators search for and repurpose video content. Its target market is small and midsized media teams, perhaps posting to social media or creating course material, with likely industries including universities, sports teams, and houses of worship.

Two scheduled attendees, Probit Systems and Perch, weren’t in attendance. Probit provided some literature to sit on a table, at least, while Perch was completely absent.

Mass Innovation Nights 107Expert Corner

The presenting “experts” this evening represented the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub and the City of Lowell Department of Economic Development.

Networking

The networking portion of the evening – before and after the presentations, including last night’s official afterparty at Coffee and Cotton – is always as important as the presentations themselves.  On this particular evening, in addition to allowing me to chat with each of the presenting companies and get up-close views of some of the product, I ran into key players and founders from companies like wearable tech firm Invisawear (smart jewelry and accessories), e911MD (a virtual 911 and medical app), and EforAll (an entrepreneurship accelerator and training and mentoring program).

Conclusion

As with other MIN reviews, I’ve done my best to accurately portray the products I saw exhibited based on the literature I read and conversations I had with attendees; hopefully I’ve succeeded. Most of what I’ve written could easily enough be found by following this link and then clicking on the “Vote Here” tab of the MIN 107 web page, and I’ve included hotlinks to the websites of each of the companies I’ve mentioned so you can dig deeper, but hopefully this article serves as a decent introduction.

I always enjoy attending the MIN events, and I plan to get to several more in the coming months as my schedule allows. The next MIN event is scheduled for March 14 at Brandeis University, and I plan to be in attendance. As always, if I’m there, I’ll blog about it.

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase #86: A Review

Boston New Technology #86
Boston New Technology #86

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 86

February 12, 2018

Introduction

This month’s BNT showcase was a little less convenient for me than last month’s, which was held in Waltham near my office, but it was well worth the trip into Cambridge.

Boston New Technology #86
Boston New Technology #86

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 86Alley Cambridge in Cambridge, MA

You may recognize the next paragraph from last month, but I did change a word or two:

Lumo at Boston New Technology #86
Lumo at Boston New Technology #86

Each BNT Startup Showcase begins with food and networking, followed by the evening’s presentations. After the sponsors are introduced and given a couple minutes each to talk about themselves, the seven startup presentations begin. Each startup’s presentation is 5 minutes followed by 5 minutes of Q&A. Following is a brief recap of each of the seven startups’ presentations. Please follow the links to learn more about company/product.

After the welcome message and sponsors, the first presenting startup was Lumo‘s self-cleaning pet grooming tool, Ridgeback, designed to detangle and collect shed pet hair without pulling or cutting. Though not a hard and fast rule, I’ve noticed the early presenters tend to get more of the Shark Tank-ish questions. Tonight was no exception. Ridgeback’s price point is $32-$68, with professional, easy-cleaning models at the higher end of the range, and because of the quality premium, the product has an extremely healthy profit margin.

Kaiburr at Boston New Technology #86
Kaiburr at Boston New Technology #86

Kaiburr is a devops-as-a-service offering that allows quick, secure deployment of apps. I first learned about this company in November at a Mass Innovation Nights event. Kaiburr is a subscription-based, SaaS product, with a sliding rate – pay as you scale.

Quinncia is an AI-based interview preparation tool. The product is already revenue-positive, in place at 15-20 universities.

Quinncia at Boston New Technology #86
Quinncia at Boston New Technology #86

SavingsQuest is a savings encouragement app from financial services non-profit Commonwealth. It uses the gamification of savings – culminating in a dancing pig – to encourage the accumulation of small emergency funds via micro-savings.

I Am Kréyol is an artistic high fashion design brand with an inspirational story behind the brand’s style and panache.

I Am Kreyol at Boston New Technology #86
I Am Kreyol at Boston New Technology #86

SidelineSwap is an online marketplace for buying and selling sports gear. Tapping a surprisingly untapped market, the presentation included an example of its ease of use by demonstrating the act of selling a piece of equipment via the SidelineSwap app. An interesting point made during the presentation was that 90% of SidelineSwap’s sellers had never sold anything online before using the service.

And Inspired Start is a baby food designed to introduce eight commons allergens to babies at an early age to help reduce the likelihood that they’ll develop as many common food allergies. The three points I recall from the presentation were, in no particular order: Organic, non-GMO, and made in Wisconsin.

Inspired Start at Boston New Technology #86
Inspired Start at Boston New Technology #86

This was another fun BNT event with lively presentations and interesting people to network with. Though it featured more non-tech presentations than is typical at a BNT event, these seven startups are a good mix of the sorts of new companies Boston produces. And, as always, I look forward to the next Boston New Technology Startup Showcase.

Next month’s event, BNT #87, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 7 at Foley Hoag in Boston.

My Reacquaintance With Millimeter Wave Equipment Vendors

Back in the mid-’00s when I worked as an industry analyst for NPRG, I penned our Fixed Wireless Carriers Report, marking our foray into off-the-shelf report-publishing in the microwave and millimeter wave space, and I’ve followed its progress ever since. Off and on, at least. Or I thought I did. I recently stumbled across the forays of both Fujitsu and Samsung into the millimeter wave waters, so I dug a little to find the backgrounds of their ventures into this space, assuming they had acquired some of the several vendors who had divvied up the market a decade ago. Indeed, no, these were ground-up systems these technology giants had developed over a number of years. Even as I’ve followed the carrier usage of these systems with interest – point-to-point millimeter wave service is getting increased attention for its backhaul prospects – clearly my vendor knowledge had slipped a bit. So it’s time to re-engage.

Of course, back when I wrote that report, microwave comprised a lion’s share of the fixed wireless market, particularly in the cellular backhaul space, and this 2016 Sivers IMA report summary suggests very little has changed in that regard.

As for the vendors, a quick search brought up this Global Industry Analysts report, and three of the nine major players (as noted in this more detailed table of contents) were among the top vendors when I wrote my report more than a decade ago. Also notable, Fujitsu and Samsung aren’t listed – indeed, eight of the nine vendors seem to be small, specialized equipment manufacturers – which means the market has not yet been overtaken by major multi-product equipment manufacturers, even as NEC has made inroads and at least a couple more of the big boys are beginning to sniff around. Notably, as I did just a little digging, while Fujitsu’s 5G millimeter wave research is touted, articles and press releases from the last 3-4 years seem to suggest it was geared toward autonomous driving purposes more than for telecom.

As for market size, the first few reports I stumbled upon seem to expect a $2.5 to $9 billion dollar market by the ends of their forecast periods, ranging from 2023 to 2025 with 2016 and 2017 market levels in the $500 to $600 million range.  Again, back when I did my research in the mid-’00s, the fixed wireless market was still microwave-dominated, so much so that I never bothered to call out a market size for the nascent millimeter wave market; indeed, it has grown by now to a respectable size.

With all of these interesting developments, it seems like a good time to refresh my millimeter wave knowledge.

Also of interest, though not exactly “breaking” news but helpful for an introductory piece, is this link to a Ceragon blog post from a couple months ago. It contains a wavelength x frequency graphic showing where decimeter wave (500 MHz-3 GHz), centimeter wave (3-30 GHz), and millimeter wave (30-300 GHz) fall, as well as indicating the segment of the spectrum commonly referred to as microwave (5-42 GHz). Of course, this article places a distinct cutoff point between microwave and millimeter wave at 30 GHz without overlap. Since millimeter waves are microwaves, the definition of microwave is definitionally arbitrary, though in the U.S., if I recall from a decade ago, the spectrum set aside for millimeter wave communication is in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, so the specific cutoff point isn’t important in practice, as there’s an FCC-defined cutoff point, at least for the purpose of telecom.

And, with that, this kickoff piece is officially “all over the place.” But watch this space as I’ll be making a concerted effort to include a lot of millimeter wave coverage in the coming weeks and months. I assume it’ll be a mix of targeted bits and the occasional general piece reacting to news articles and/or my own surfing for specific links (and the rabbit hole it takes me down). Also, if you’re one of my longtime industry contacts, expect to hear from me this year. And whether you’re an existing industry friend or someone I haven’t yet met, if you’d like to reach out to me proactively, don’t forget I have a contact form. I’ll appreciate your outreach and look forward to making your acquaintance.

A Closer Look at Cimetrics’ Analytika Product Offerings

Analytika
image courtesy of Cimetrics

One of the companies that impressed me at Mass Innovation Nights’ May 2017 event (MIN 98) was Cimetrics. Namely, its Analytika product for monitoring buildings.

Since its first product was released in 1991, Cimetrics has been in the business of providing distributed monitoring and control systems. It is known for its machine-to-mahcine (M2M) software and analytics for building systems. Its products and services leverage big data analytics to monitor and adjust building automation systems. To me, when I first encountered Cimetrics, the most obvious system was HVAC. The company has better explanations of its product background and systems here and here. In fact, on the second of those pages, the company explains that Analytika is Cimetrics’ family of analytical products and services, building on the company’s expansive expertise to improve the performance of industrial processes, central utility plants and building systems.

Cimetrics history
image courtesy of Cimetrics

There’s a nice graphic representation of the company’s timeline on its website’s “History” page, showing key dates in Cimetrics’ history, from the company’s founding in 1989 to the launch of its Analytika IoT platform in 2014.

Analytika

Next, let’s move on from the more general Cimetrics overview and look specifically at Analytika (as promised). Analytika is broken down into three paths/product areas: Analytika for Industrial IoT for designers of smart products and engineered systems, Analytika for Buildings for building managers to assist with energy savings and sustainability at facilities, and Analytika for Process targeting the pharmaceutical and life sciences fields. Here’s the webpage to start your search for more information about Analytika.

In addition, Analytika offers Building Optimization Services, allowing it to truly be a one-stop solution for building and facility managers.

Case Studies

Analytika’s tweets frequently refer to a couple of easy-to-follow cases studies showcasing the product’s usefulness. In one example, the sample case details how a university science department achieved $1.2 million in annual energy savings using Analytika, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% while maintaining the necessary environmental safety requirements. Relying on Analytika’s algorithms, the department achieved 6 month project payback with a net present value of $4.2 million. Obviously, there’s greater detail on Analytika’s website, including a full case study PDF download.

This is just one of the many case studies you can find on the Analytika website.

Analytika
image courtesy of Cimetrics

Cimetrics Ensures Analytika is the Correct Solution

“Cimetrics advises, mentors and troubleshoots.” says Albert Putnam, Cimetrics VP of Business Development. “We can help with industrial and building protocols like BACnet, and embedded IoT hardware. We have years of experience in embedded edge systems. The people we help go to Analytika.

“Analytika works best with existing, large scale, non-trivial, non-dominated, mutable ecosystems – like environmental controls for large buildings, where there are multiple vendors of non-trivially interconnected systems and where changes can make a difference. Our main vertical market is in pharmaceutical and healthcare energy systems. At its simplest, our core value offer is making sure systems are not fighting each other.”

You can see why Cimetrics/Analytika piqued my interest when I initially encountered the company and its flagship solution at MIN last May. I look forward to bringing you more news about Analytika developments as new, newsworthy deployments are revealed.

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase #85: A Review

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase #85
Boston New Technology Startup Showcase #85

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 85

January 9, 2018

Introduction

I’m planning to get out to more BNT events this year. I last wrote about BNT77 in May of last year. Look for more frequent write-ups this year.

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 85: DS SolidWorks Corporation in Waltham, MA

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase #85
Baby Safety Snap presentation

Each BNT Startup Showcase begins with food and networking before turning to the presentations. After the sponsors are introduced and given a couple minutes each to talk about themselves, the seven startup presentations begin. Each startup’s presentation is 5 minutes followed by 5 minutes of Q&A. Following is a brief recap of each of the seven startups’ presentations. Please follow the links to learn more about company/product.

First up was Baby Safety Snap, a product from Loon Ventures LLC that consists of a key (attached to a bright yellow lanyard) snaps into a baby’s car seat buckle and is designed to help prevent parents from leaving babies inside hot cars. The product looked like an inexpensive, effective, efficient way to achieve its goal and may have a bright future. It was one of my favorite presentations of the evening.

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase #85
Zealery Researcher presentation

The StandingSteps Trainer is a physical platform on which the user exercises to lose weight and improve health. Impressively, to show how easy the product is to use, the presentation was given while using the product.

Zealery Researcher offers companies an easily-affordable opportunity to do automated permutation tests for market research. Zealery allows its clients to test variants of its product and test different price points. It then measures engagement rates across hundreds of thousands of placements. At the moment, Zealery tests reactions to ads on Facebook and Instagram; compatibility with other social media networks is in development.

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase #85
ITiculate presentation

ITculate allows real-time testing and management of cloud networks. The product allows users to proactively fix and optimize their cloud applications. The BNT presentation included a live demonstration, too.

Meenta allows researchers to book spare capacity on scientific equipment. In areas like Cambridge, Mass., with its many research labs, for example, there is a great deal of unused or underused scientific equipment capacity. Meenta makes it easier to find that available capacity, easing the requirement for researchers to buy expensive equipment.

UOut is an app whose goal is to help friends plan gatherings out. The app allows bars, restaurants, and venues to create dynamic, user-created content and offers real-time promotional opportunities. The app is launching in Boston with plans to expand nationwide.

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase #85
UOut presentation

Paper Airplane is an app that allows people to network and connect with other people within the room and meet in real life. It sure feels like a dating app, though the presentation included some other potential uses. The team plans to roll it out first in South Boston, rightfully noting that its usefulness will be tied to its ubiquity, supporting a geo-by-geo rollout. Though it wasn’t mentioned in the presentation, I’d think this might find a likely audience on and around college campuses, where the app’s whimsical name might help differentiate it, though that’s true everywhere.

I really like the BNT format, with each company getting time for a short presentation. I look forward to the next event. The BNT Meetup group contains a calendar of upcoming recommended events. The next BNT Startup Showcase is scheduled for February 12th, with its Boston location currently listed as TBD.

 

A Quick Look at the GeoOrbital Wheel

GeoOrbital Wheel
photo courtesy of GeoOrbital

A couple years ago, I saw the GeoOrbital Wheel demonstrated at a Mass Innovation Nights start-up showcase event, MIN #81, at Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville, MA. As I generally do when I attend these events, I wrote a summary for the blog, which included a paragraph about GeoOrbital. Two years later, the company is still going strong, and it’s a product that intrigued me, so I decided to write a follow-up.

GeoOrbital Wheel
image courtesy of GeoOrbital

The “wheel” is a kit that allows purchasers to turn a regular bicycle into an electric bicycle. The company has a YouTube video, in fact, that showcases its 60-second installation.

Recently, GeoOrbital appeared on Shark Tank. When I decided to re-look at GeoOrbital a couple weeks ago, I didn’t know about its Shark Tank appearance; I first learned about it when I visited the company’s website.

GeoOrbital didn’t get an investment on Shark Tank, but the company is currently accepting crowdfunding investments via a GeoOrbital startengine.com page. (At the time of this writing, the startengine.com page has received more than $800,000 in investments.) Since the company’s May 1, 2016 public Kickstarter launch, it has achieved more than $1.8 million in gross sales. Indeed, this cool made-in-the-USA product has captured the public’s imagination. It has come a long way since I first saw the company’s Mass Innovation Nights presentation two years ago.

GeoOrbital Wheel
image courtesy of GeoOrbital

If you scroll down the aforementioned startengine.com page, you’ll see pictures and descriptions of the technology, a map showing GeoOrbital’s worldwide network of more than 150 ambassadors, and some market projection charts and graphs.

It’s interesting to see the progress of this company and its intriguing product two years after my initial encounter. I’ll be sure to provide additional updates and share more information about GeoOrbital in the coming months and years as the company undoubtedly achieves more milestones.

The Launch of Expese.com

Expese.com launch party
photo by Geoff Wilbur

On Tuesday, November 14th, I attended the Expese.com launch party at WeWork in Cambridge, MA. I found out about the company via a conversation at a local startup event a few months ago. This was a neat way to learn more about the company.

Experience with Ease

Expese.com launch party
photo by Geoff Wilbur

Expese’s marketing tagline and, obviously, the source of the company’s name is “experience with ease.” The website is a technology enthusiast’s playground. It allows subscribers to “experience” cutting-edge technology for 21 days before returning it and getting the “experience” the next item on their lists. It’s a “try before you buy” website, and there is an opportunity for subscribers to purchase the items they’re trying out using e-coins. E-coins are earned simply by subscribing; they can also be earned by writing reviews and by referring new subscribers. Of course, you can also buy e-coins to reach the amount required to purchase a product that interests you.

Expese.com launch party
photo by Geoff Wilbur

Products currently available through Expese include virtual reality products, drones, smartwatches, gaming systems, and a variety of other gadgets, as listed on this page of the website.

For more information, check out the company’s website, expese.com. Questions are answered on Expese’s FAQ page. You can also watch Expese’s introductory YouTube video. (It’s barely more than a minute long, so it’s a quick and easy watch.)

The Party

The party itself was an after-work event with snacks, drinks, a quick presentation, and prizes. At the event, virtual reality products were available to try out and a sample table containing some of the technology available through Expese was set up. The attendees were an interesting mix of people in the local technology and start-up communities.

Expese.com launch party
photo by Geoff Wilbur

Looking Ahead

Expese is currently in beta launch, so early subscriber feedback may inform future changes. I actually won a two-month trial of Expese at the event – I told you there were prizes – so I’m going to sign up, try it out, and share my experiences with you at the end of the trial. I’ve always personally been too busy to devote much time to the latest tech, so this will be fun. Either tomorrow or maybe during Thanksgiving weekend I’ll have a little free time to sign up, set up my account, and select items for my queue, and after I’ve tried Expese for a couple months, I’ll write about my experience.