Monday, May 01, 2017

Start your startups, Part Two

On Friday, I ran through the first half of the Boston Globe’s Scott Kirsner roundup of the most promising local startups in the Boston area. Today, we tackle the rest. (Note: the list is Scott Kirsner’s; the quoted/indented material all comes from the respective company websites.)

I wish my husband and his Aunt Carrie were alive to see Wristify come into existence. The company is coming out with a bracelet that cools or warms the inside of your wrist, which has the effect of making you feel cooler or warmer. “Wristify doesn't need to modify your core temperature to make you more comfortable. Wristify draws on 30 years of thermal research to maximize comfort in a discreet and energy-efficient way.” 30 years of thermal research? We don’t need know stinkin’ 30 years of thermal research. Carrie told Jim well before that about a way to cool down during the summers he was working on Uncle Bill and Aunt Carrie’s tobacco farm: run cold water over the insides of your wrists. And if you’re cold – which I’m pretty sure didn’t happen on the tobacco farm during the summer - run warm water. I’ve used this trick for decades. As for making a wearable out of it: great idea.I signed up for an alert when they’re ready for sale. Best idea to come out of MIT since the decoder ring T pass. (Alas, I’ve lost mine. And it doesn’t work with the senior discount anyway…)

Fortunately, I completed my education before you got out of school with crippling debt. (I had some loans for business school, but it was maybe $3K – a decidedly worthwhile investment.) But these days a lot of kids come out of college with first-home-mortgage level debt. For them, there’s FutureFuel, an app that matches job-hunting young folks with companies offering loan repayment as a benefit. Great benefit – a lot better than free sodas and fussball – but when I think of all the crazy borrowing going on out there: God help us!

Virtual Cove has an answer for those who say ‘yes’ to the following question:

Do you spend time looking for insight using financial charts, pivot tables, business intelligence or machine learning?

I say ‘no’, so lucky me. I’m not the audience for Virtual Cove’s:

… solution [which] turns complex data into augmented and virtual reality data visualizations. It's especially valuable helping quantitative finance, researchers, analysts, portfolio managers & traders detect anomalies faster and more effectively than machines alone.

I’m sure virtual reality is going to be all sorts of wonderful. I’m just not ready for it, and doubt I ever will be. Physical reality’s quite enough to deal with, thank you.

If I were to vote one of these companies as ‘least likely to come out of Boston’, it would be Telluslabs, which uses satellite imagery and machine learning to make predictions about agricultural yields:

This past growing season, TellusLabs delivered some of the earliest and most prescient forecasts of the US corn and soy harvest ever produced and we’re just getting warmed up.

Last time I looked, there were no amber waves of soybean fields in Massachusetts, but, hey, with satellite imagery you don’t have to be standing in Southern Illinois to see what’s happening down on the farm.

Exero Labs is much more logically at home here, as it combines two of our favorite local things: technology and pro sports. The company has as its co-founder Zoltan Mesko, who was a kicker for the New England Patriots. The company “has developed an innovative impact reduction device to complement advances in football helmet design.” Well, anything that can prevent some of the brain damage that results from playing football is a good thing, but methinks it might be too late to save pro football from what’s starting to look like an inexorable decline. (I know, I know. I was screaming my head off at the end of the Super Bowl this year, but I do believe that football is going to go the way of boxing. People will still follow it, but it won’t be the big thing it once was.)

As someone who ends up diverting most of her UPS and FedEx deliveries to the nearest UPS or FedEx pick up place so that I don’t have to sit around all day waiting for a package, and as someone who has had excellent experiences with Uber, I laud Veho Technologies which aims “to provide consumers complete visibility into the delivery process, with an Uber-like customer experience.”

Veho aims to bring the next wave of innovation to the package delivery space – an $85B industry. Harnessing the crowdsourced economy, and using state-of-the-art mobile technology, we aim to help traditional delivery companies compete in tomorrow’s world. Veho’s asset-light operating model helps carriers enhance last mile economics; easily expand last mile fleet capacity when needed; substantially reduce the rate of failed deliveries; and delight end-customers with after work-hours deliveries.

Of course, before all those Veho drivers get too excited about becoming last-mile deliverers, as soon as it’s feasible, they’ll be replaced by robots and drones.

Well, where was Voatz last November 8th when, like, totes McGoats, we really could have used them? Because we all know it is so damned difficult, not to mention boring and fuddy-duddy, to actually go to a polling place, give some old lady your name, have her check it off, fill out your ballot or push a lever, and have a cop check your name off on the way out. I like voting. It’s pretty much my religion. But, just like the young folks don’t carry cash, they’re not going to want to go to the old fire station or church basement or school hall and do something non-tech and communal. And they apparently don’t care about the “I Voted” sticker. They’re going to want to do anytime, anywhere voting. So Voatz gets my vote. Oh, I’ll keep voting in person but, who knows, maybe on my deathbed I’ll cast the deciding ballot using an app.

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