If you’re looking for the preeminent hot spot to find startup talent here in Massachusetts, look no further. Mass Innovation Nights has everything from one-man web startups, to well established Software-as-a-Service companies looking to scale their user bases, to fun little entrepreneurial do-dads and gadgets.
They’re all New England companies.
On the evening of Nov. 11, 2009. The rest of the BostInnovation staff and I headed out to the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation to check out the nOOb companies and find out exactly what they have to offer.
What follows is a recap of the presenting startup companies and our collective opinions on a few of them:
Implementation Factory’s Praura
Praura presented in Mass Inno’s “pit”, and we were able to get in on that action. It’s a collaboration software currently offering free 30-day trials, and the presenter said it’s available for as little as $17 per month, which impressed us. They’re re-launching the service in January, and it sounds like they’ll be offering more to differentiate them from other online collaboration platforms. The plus, right now, is that they’re small and will work with you to design a space that fits your needs, rather than forcing you to figure out which of their applications will be most useful. They also don’t care how much file sharing space you need. They’re more interested in growing their user-base than preventing you from taking advantage of what they offer. In today’s world of virtual collaboration, one of these platforms is sure to emerge as a must-have for small companies. This one is probably worth checking out if your group needs one now.
The Risk-Wise Investor
The Risk-Wise Investor is a new book by Michael Carpenter aimed at helping entrepreneurs and investors analyze the risk they incur in an easy to understand, non technical way. The crowd seemed interested, but with so many people in attendance and just one person (presumably Carpenter himself?) fielding questions, we had trouble elbowing in to talk about the text. Also, we had nothing but lint in our pockets, so we weren’t looking to pick up a copy of the (fairly substantial) hardcover book. All the same, it piqued our collective curiosities. We’ll wait for a free giveaway to hit Twitter or Facebook before we drop the cash on it. (That’s a hint to Carpenter and his company, eh hem.)
Conversion Associates offers a top-down analytic platform for monitoring user engagement on your company’s websites and web advertising. Users put a snipit of Java code into their sites to see who visited, when, from where and what kind of engagement they made. In short, it looks like Google Analytics on steroids. The downside? You have to put the Java into all your web pages, and then you really need to monitor engagement at Conversion’s site to put it to work for you. However, if you’re looking to isolate which web properties are most useful to clients and potential clients, this might be something worth looking into. Also, the company can monitor, record and track calls placed through non-web advertising.
We tweeted about this company a week or so ago, and it really seems like a no-brainer to us. Rather than giving you one of those stupid buzzing coasters when you go to a restaurant and put your name in for a table, they simply take your cell phone number and send you an SMS text five minutes before your table’s ready. The system is fully automated, though matre de’s can manually operate it as well. As Mass High Tech reported last week, this new service will do its Alpha testing at Asgard Irish Pub in Central Square, Cambridge, on December 1st. Look for more on this company at this blog in the coming weeks. We’re definitely going to double back and see how they’re doing.
Imagine a massive, global network of bug squishers and professional-grade testers all at your beckon call. That’s what uTest offers. This Southboro, Mass., based company is in the business of making sure your site works well. They pay their testers on a conract basis, and even host a quarterly “Bug Off,” in which all of their users are invited to compete to find the biggest bugs on already-live sites like Walmart.com. Peter Shih, uTest’s community ambassador said, “We don’t have to find testers, usually. They find us. The Bug Off gives them a chance to outdo one another.” Very cool company.
During the Great Recession everyone on the BostInnovation staff has watched as a backslide put older, more experienced workers into entry-level positions. That means Gen-Y-ers are taking internships even after college is over. But what about all the teenagers usually vying for those internships? That’s where TeenLife comes in. TeenLife Boston is looking out for them. This site provides a resource for teenagers to find jobs and non-profit roles so they can build out their resumes as well. It’s never too early to start networking in the shrinking world of social media, and this site is definitely a good place to start.
Special thanks to Bobbie Carlton and her staff for putting on a great event. We hope to see all of you out there next month! If you have other notes on the event, please feel free to include them in the comments.