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.

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.

Mass Innovation Nights 104: A Quick Review

photo by Geoff Wilbur; Mass Innovation Nights 104 at Dassault Systemes in Waltham

Mass Innovation Nights 104

November 8, 2017

I rarely make it into the city for a technology event – the drive in after work and parking would cause me to arrive late to too many events to make frequent attendance possible, since the events are timed to be convenient for whose jobs are nearby or a subway-ride away to attend after work. But I do make it to a good percentage of the events in the western Boston suburbs, so I may it to my first startup event in several months this week, a Mass Innovation Nights event hosted by Dassault Systemes in Waltham.

This wasn’t a “theme night,” so the companies exhibiting crossed industry boundaries, though as is often the case at Boston-area startup events, all of the companies in attendance at MIN104 could be considered tech.

Mass Innovation Nights 104: Dassault Systemes in Waltham, MA

photo by Kristen Avini; at-event voting prize winners at Mass Innovation Nights 104: Fluid-Screen, Obvia, Kaiburr, and Vocoli

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 PeopleProductive, MagniFact’s MoodAnalyzer, Fluid-Screen, and Kaiburr. Awards were also given based on at-event voting. At-event winners were Vocoli, Kaiburr, Obvia, and Fluid-Screen.

Though it was mentioned on the event notice, I had forgotten the host, Dassault Systemes/SOLIDWORKS, was offering tours of its 3DEXPERIENCE Lab, so I didn’t seek it out. I’ll have to be better prepared if there is a “next time.”

Now, I’ll take a quick run through the companies in attendance; you can follow the links for more information about them.

photo by Geoff Wilbur; MagniFact’s MoodAnalyzer at Mass Innovation Nights 104

Obvia: Obvia’s wind turbine system is based on innovative rotor blades, which I understood easily based on the explanation I received at Obvia’s table. And, it seems, a semi-shrouded wing; shrouding is explained in a video linked from Obvia’s Mass Innovation Nights profile. If my layman’s description sounds interesting, I’d suggest going to Obvia’s website and/or its MIN profile to learn more.

Fluid-Screen: Some of the medical technology startups prove the most interesting at startup events, and this month’s MIN was no exception. Fluid-Screen’s lab-on-a-chip technology allows doctors’ offices to process tests faster, reducing the time required to test for bacterial contamination from days to thirty minutes. As part of the company’s presentation, it was noted even homes could potentially use it to test food and water, particularly in places (or times) during which contamination is more likely. In addition to the company’s website, there’s information of Fluid-Screen’s Mass Innovation Nights profile, which includes a link to a TEDx presentation.

By the way, you can get to any vendor’s MIN104 profile by clicking on this link (http://mass.innovationnights.com/events/mass-innovation-nights-104), clicking “Vote Here” to see the list of showcasing companies, and then clicking the “Read More” at the end of each vendor’s section.

photo by Geoff Wilbur; Fluid-Screen’s presentation at Mass Innovation Nights 104

Coalesce.info: This one’s kind of cool. The Coalesce.Info Virtual Analyst is like an AI search engine that improves responses to decision making questions within a company.

MagniFact: The MagniFact MoodAnalyzer uses predictive analytics and custom algorithms to provide customer sentiment information in real time based on the language used by customers. A young start-up guided by an established technologist, this product could solve a variety of problems, with its direction perhaps guided by the interested parties currently involved with its founder. The video on MagniFact’s MIN profile is also worth viewing.

photo by Geoff Wilbur; Obvia’s booth at Mass Innovation Nights 104

Kaiburr: A popular product at MIN104, Kaiburr is an application orchestration software billed as “DevOps as a Service.” Kaiburr’s 2-minute promotional YouTube video explains Kaiburr and its product management capabilities probably better than I could in a paragraph.

Vocoli: Vocoli is a sort of a digital suggestion box platform, allowing companies to gain useful new ideas, internally “crowdsource” ideas, and keep tabs on the sentiment within their ranks. And, again, there’s a less-than-two-minute YouTube video that explains some of the details of Vocoli.

photo by Geoff Wilbur; Kaiburr’s booth at Mass Innovation Nights 104

PeopleProductive: PeopleProductive is a software platform that helps companies reduce attrition rates, among other things. The three “tracks” detailed on the company’s website are “On-Time Execution & Delivery,” “Employee Retention,” and “Mergers & Acquisitions.” I’d suggest referring to the company’s website for more details.

iseeBell: iseeBell’s table presentation focused on its video doorbell product, which allows people to see who’s at the door via smartphone or tablet from anywhere. The company was also displaying some devices geared more directly toward the security-camera market, as well. As with so many of MIN104’s companies, there’s a two-minute video pitch on YouTube.

E-Green LLC‘s Beacon Smart Lamp: This product allows you to turn on, turn off, brighten, dim, and even change the direction of the beam of the lamp from your smartphone. The YouTube video is just one minute long.

photo by Geoff Wilbur; iseeBell’s booth at Mass Innovation Nights 104

Makerchip.com: OK, here I’ll just quote the text directly from the MIN company profile because I couldn’t possibly add something useful: “Makerchip.com is a free cloud-based IDE for digital integrated circuit design aimed at open-source hardware development and academic use.” From standing by and listening in while this product was being shown to interested parties, it looks like it would be a helpful tool, though since this isn’t my area of expertise, I don’t know current alternatives are out there.

Expert Corner

Experts included members of the Dassault Systemes team and Jeff Schantz from EYP. Plus, they were joined by Innovation Women, a speakers’ bureau to help connect event managers with women entrepreneurs and women in the technical fields. (I say “joined by” because Innovation Women weren’t listed on the event website or the event handout, but they did have a prime booth location.)

Conclusion

As always with my startup event summaries, I’ve done my best to explain what I saw, drawing upon some promotional material at the event and online, conversations I had with company representatives, and the information available by clicking the “Vote Here” tab of the MIN104 web page. If you find any of the companies or products described above interesting, please follow the links I provided and get in touch with the companies themselves for more information.

That concludes my overview of yet another MIN event. As I attend additional MIN (and other technology industry) events in the coming months, I’ll share what I see with those of you who read my blog.