20 of Boston's Most Innovative Tech Startups
1. Rethink Robotics is creating a safe, intelligent robot for manufacturing
2. Spindle aims to help you discover the very best of what's around you
3. Plastiq wants to make it easier for merchants to accept credit card payments online
4. BabbaCo delivers monthly boxes of activities for parents to do with their kids
5. Recorded Future is helping us predict future trends
6. Formlabs is developing high-quality, 3D printers for the masses
7. Bow & Drape wants to make it easier for women to find the perfect outfit
8. Ubersense provides video analysis tools for athletes and their coaches
9. Yesware is email management for salespeople
10. CustomMade helps you get essentially anything custom-designed for you
11. Runkeeper is a mobile fitness app
12. Fetchnotes helps you organize all of your mobile notes
13. Kibits facilitates instant collaboration and communication between mobile workers
14. Dribbble is a design-sharing site
15. Ministry of Supply makes high-tech dress shirts for men
16. Flashnotes is an online marketplace for study notes
17. Kinvey allows developers to skip the tedious backend coding and focus on the frontend
18. Boundless aims to make the world's knowledge free
19. Tivli wants to make TV available everywhere
20. Ginger.io uses the data from your smartphone to track your health
Boston's startup scene is thriving.
With talent constantly pouring out of universities like Harvard and MIT, and programs like TechStars Boston, Mass Challenge, and Startup Institute Boston mentoring entrepreneurs, it's no wonder why Boston has produced big-name companies like Carbonite, Zipcar, and Trip Advisor.
We hit up VCs, and spoke with entrepreneurs to learn more about what's hot in Boston tech right now.
Some of these startups are more established, while others are just getting their footing.
There are undoubtedly a number of innovative startups in Boston. So please let us know in the comments if you think we missed any.
Startup: Rethink Robotics
Founder: Rodney Brooks
Concept: Affordable, industrial robots that can perform a variety of simple tasks and work safely alongside human workers. Its first robot, Baxter, can handle materials, load and unload items on/off from conveyor belts, inspect and test parts, lightly operate machines, and pack and unpack boxes.
Why you should care: Rethink Robotics is aiming to make America more competitive by creating low cost manufacturing techniques and processes. If all goes according to plan, Baxter should be able to work alongside human coworkers and help America better compete against low-wage offshore labor.
The ultimate goal for Baxter is to accomplish more difficult tasks, like fitting together parts on an electronics assembly line. It's also working on software to let Baxter communicate with a conveyor belt, and other machines.
Funding: $62 million from Bezos Expeditions, Charles River Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, Sigma Partners, and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
Related: How To Build A Billion-Dollar Internet Company
Founded: 2010 (launched 2012)
Founders: Pat Kinsel, Simon Yun, Alex Lambert
Concept: Location discovery app that pulls in real-time information from businesses. That way, you can search for places only offering deals at the time, or ones with special events.
Why you should care: Spindle is looking to totally reinvent the way we search for things around us in real time.It recently updated the app with Google-Now like technology to push you notifications about places you might like as you walk by them.
Funding: $2.3 million from Polaris Partners, Greylock Partners, Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, Atlas Venture, and Project 11 Ventures.
Founders: Eliot Buchanan, Daniel Choi
Concept: Credit card processing tools for government entities, universities, property owners, and other types of merchants.
Why you should care: The payments space is getting increasingly crowded, so it's no wonder why Plastiq is targeting industries that have traditionally shyed away from accepting credit cards. Plastiq aims to bring credit card payments to things like paying tuition, taxes, and rent online,
"Primarily, the reason is that the landlords, the schools, and the government don't want to eat the cost [associated with credit card payments]," Plastiq co-founder Eliot Buchanan told TechCrunch in an interview earlier this year. "They don't want to set up the infrastructure to accept the payments."
Already, Plastiq has partnered with the University of Alberta and Mount Royal University, as well as H&R Block Canada for paying income taxes.
Funding: $8.35 million from Atlas Venture, Flybridge Capital Partners, NextView Ventures, Greenoaks Capital Management, and angel investor Harvey Golub.
Founded: 2007 (launched first box in 2011)
Founders: Jessica Kim, Christine Gutierrez
Concept: Monthly subscription box full of curated toys and activities for parents and their 3-to-6-year-old kids
Why you should care: It's aiming to be "the Martha Stweart structure in the parenting space," BabbaCo founder Jessica Kim told LAUNCH back in 2011. Already, the BabbaBox has made its way into the hands of celebrities like Ali Landry, Ashlee Simpson, Tori Spelling, Jessica Alba, and Jennifer Garner.
Funding: $1.23 million from Sandbox Industries, Gary Vaynerchuk, Excelerate Labs, Lightbank, SV Angel, and NextView Ventures.
Startup: Recorded Future
Founders: Christopher Ahlberg
Concept: Recorded Future captures and compiles data from news articles, Twitter, SEC filings, and other sources, to give its clients a peek into the future.
Why you should care: The world is constantly reporting on itself, but that doesn't mean there's a quick and simple way to find that data and use it in a meaningful way.
With speculation about Foxconn phasing out its Chinese workforce, Recorded Future is tracking everything from rumored reports of Foxconn opening factories in the U.S. to news of a hiring freeze in China.
Funding: $20.9 million from Google Ventures, IA Ventures, Balderton Capital, Atlas Venture, and In-Q-Tel, the venture arm of the C.I.A.
Founders: Maxim Lobovsky, John David Cranor, Natan Linder
Concept: Formlabs' Form 1 printer is designed to make high-quality parts for professional use.
Why you should care: Formlabs grabbed a lot of attention. It's also one of the most-funded projects in Kickstarter history.
"Professional 3D printers at the high end run tens of thousands of dollars," Formlabs co-founder Maxim Lobovsky told Business Insider in an interview last year. "The low-end equipment is more affordable but less than professional. There was a huge hole in between to satisfy with architects, jewelers, and other professionals in that middle ground who can make use of 3D printing."
Formlabs uses a process called stereolithography, which is one of the oldest forms of 3D printing technology, but also the golden standard in the 3D printing industry.
Funding: $2,945,885 on Kickstarter from 2,068 backers. Raised $500,000 seed round from Mitch Kapor, Joi Ito, and Eric Schmidt's Innovation Endeavors.
Startup: Bow & Drape
Founder: Aubrie Pagano
Concept: High-quality, custom apparel for women. With Bow & Drape, women can choose from a curated selection of apparel and accessories, and further customize the color, fabric, hemlines, and other embellishments.
Why you should care: Bow & Drape is revolutionizing the way we shop for clothes. It uses either an at-home Fit Kit or "photorealistic dynamic configurator" to ensure you get the perfect fit. Eventually, it wants to let customers upload an image of themselves for virtual fitting.
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Founders: Krishna Ramchandran, Amit Jardosh
Concept: Ubersense is an iPad app that provides sports video analysis to help athletes improve their game, and help coaches better train their athletes. It offers slow-motion analysis, and enables you to compare videos side-by-side, as well as overlaid on top of other videos. So you could, for example, compare your golf swing to Tiger Woods' and see how you stack up. It also provides video analysis for dance, musical instruments, and other types of activities analyzing techniques could be helpful.
Why you should care: Already, UberSense has partnered with the U.S. Bobsled Skeleton Federation for its Olympic teams.
Funding: $1.1 million from Atlas Venture, Boston Seed Capital, and Google Ventures
Founders: Matthew Bellows, Cashman Andrus, and Rajat Bhargava
Concept: Email tool for salespeople that tracks emails, allows you to create and save templates for future use, and syncs with your customer relationship management system.
Why you should care: Salespeople need to keep close tabs on their customers, and Yesware facilitates just that. Activity-based reports allow you to see which templates are most effective and which ones get the most consistent responses. It also connects to pre-existing CRM tools from leading CRMs like Salesforce, Nimble, Highrise, and Capsule.
Yesware has more than 170,000 customers, including Groupon, HubSpot, and Brightcove.
Funding: $5 million from Google Ventures, Foundry Group, IDG Ventures, and Golden Venture Partners
Founded: 2009 (the founders bought custommade.com, which was previously only for woodworking products)
Founders: Michael Salguero, Seth Rosen
Concept: Connects makers with people who want custom-designed goods, such as dining room tables, wedding rings, or even motorcycles. To ensure the ultimate level of quality, CustomMade hand-picks its creators, unlike Etsy.
Why you should care: CustomMade is doing $1 million in transactions a month, with about 7,400 makers on the site. It's also gearing up to launch a mobile app so you can take a photo of a product, send it to CustomMade, and ask for one of the professionals to create something similar.
Funding: $7.65 million from Google Ventures, First Round Capital, Andrew McCollum, NextView Ventures, LaunchCapital, Founder Collective, David Tisch, and Schooner Capital.
Update: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated CustomMade has 350,000+ makers on the site. The actual number is 7,400.
Startup: Runkeeper by FitnessKeeper
Founder: Jason Jacobs
Concept: Mobile fitness app for tracking your running, walking, and other physical activities.
Why you should care: At TechCrunch Disrupt last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg touted Runkeeper as a very promising startup.
Meanwhile, Runkeeper is an awesome app for tracking your health and fitness levels. It's also one of the first apps to be integrated with the new Pebble smartwatch.
Funding: $11.5 million from LaunchCapital, Don McLagan, Will Herman, Dave Balter, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Spark Capital, and Revolution.
Founders: Alex Schiff, Chase Lee (no longer with the company)
Concept: Mobile application for taking and organizing notes.
Why you should care: Fetchnotes has a pretty unique approach to note-taking and organizing those notes. It lets you organize them with hashtags so you can easily find them later. So if you want to remember to check out Sheryl Sandberg's new book, you could type, "#read Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In." To find it later, along with other books you want to read, you would just search using the hashtag #read. you could, for example, writeYou can even #organize your #notes as you #type using hashtags.
It's also one of our favorite new note-taking apps, if that means anything to you. It has also integrated its offerings with
Funding: $100,000 from TechStars Boston
Founders: Matt Cutler, David Greenstein
Concept: Web and mobile collaboration platform for small and medium businesses
Why you should care: Kibits combines everything you need in group collaboration into one app. It features file-sharing, tasks, notes, photos, videos, links, maps, chat, and more. That way, everyone on your team can stay on the same page. It also seamlessly integrates with Dropbox, Evernoe, Google Drive, and Box.
Funding: $1 million from Google Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Commonwealth Capital Ventures, SOSventures, LaunchCapital, and Common Angels
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Startup: Dribbble (in salem)
Founders: Dan Cederholm, Rich Thornett
Concept: An invitation-only website that lets designers post their projects and receive feedback from like-minded individuals.
Why you should care: Designers tend to post their best work on Dribbble. It's also turned into a great source for companies to find talented designers available for hire.
Startup: Ministry of Supply
Founders: Gihan Amarasiriwardena and Kevin Rustagi
Concept: Dress shirts that regulate your temperature.
Why you should care: The shirts are fitted with some of the same technology NASA uses in its space suits. One of its line of dress shirts, dubbed "Apollo," adapt to your body and lifestyle. It even regulates your body temperature by storing and releasing heat.
Less than one year after launching, Ministry of Supply produced more than 12,000 shirts for its customers throughout 48 countries.
Funding: $429,276 from 2,798 backers on Kickstarter.
Founders: David Petruziello, Steven Maggs, and Michael Matousek
Concept: Crowdsourced platform for study notes and course materials.
Why you should care: It's widely known that college students share notes, so why not let them make money for it? Flashnotes essentially rewards students for taking good notes, while helping other students at the same time. Flashnotes says more than 65 percent of the students who buy study notes have increased their grade point averages.
Funding: $1.8 million from Ryan Moore of Atlas Venture, Jordan Levy of SoftBank Capital, Michael Lazerow, Paul Sethi, Paul Tedeschi, Sachin Jade, and Abigail Coxsen.
Founders: Sravish Sridhar
Concept: Backend as a service for Web and mobile app developers.
Why you should care: Kinvey lets app developers plug into Facebook's Open Graph. Since mobile-only applications don't have metadata stored on the Web for Facebook to crawl, it wasn't previously possible for mobile app developers to connect their products to Facebook's Open Graph.
Kinvey solves this by taking the metadata from mobile apps and hosting it on its own servers.
Funding: $7.02 million from TechStars, Atlas Venture, SK Ventures, and Avalon Ventures.
Founders: Aaron White, Ariel Diaz, and Brian Balfour
Concept: Boundless replaces your textbook by curating high-quality content from the Web.
Why you should care: Traditional textbooks are overpriced. Even though most universities offer a buyback program, students rarely, if ever, come close to earning back the money they originally paid for the book. Boundless has the potential to save cash-strapped students tons of money by offering free textbooks online.
Even though textbook publishers Pearson, Cengage, and Macmillan Higher Educationrecently filed a lawsuit against Boundless, alleging copyright infringement, unfair competition, and false advertising, Boundless isn't giving up. The company is currently fighting the case in court.
Funding: $8 million
Founders: Nick Krasney, Ho Tuan
Concept: Online platform for watching live TV on your computer. It works by using a college's existing IP infrastructure to stream live TV to students' laptops, iPhones, iPads, and other Internet-connected devices. It carries the channels that a university already offers, and then adds on content from cable programmers like HBO.
Why you should care: Young people don't watch as much on TV as they used to. Instead, they're watching TV content on their computers and phones, according to Nielsen. Tivli has a very unique way of adopting to the way young people consume content, while still keeping the current cable model in tact.
Founders: Karan Singh, Anmol Madan
Concept: Ginger.io relies on the data from your smartphone to identify potential warning signs especially in people suffering from depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The mobile app collects passive data from your phone's sensor, and patients are able to submit information about their mood, symptoms, and overall quality of life.
Why you should care: People typically don't see their doctors regularly. Ginger.io helps doctors and hospitals track a patient's well-being in between visits.
Funding: $8.2 million from TechStars, Rock Health, James Joaquin, Walt Winshall, Bill Warner, Ty Curry, True Ventures, Kapor Capital, ENIAC Ventures, Romulus Capital, LaunchCapital, Richard Dale, and Khosla Ventures.