Friday Sep 20, 2013 by Dennis Keohane - Staff Writer, VentureFizz
Here is a quick overview of some exciting announcements that have popped up on our radar over the past couple of weeks. While some of this news may not be new to some, we still wanted to highlight as many of the best Boston tech/innovation stories that may have been under the radar.
LearnLaunchX Demo Day - Wednesday was LearnLaunchX's first Demo Day. The great event at the new District Hall in the Innovation District was capped off by an appearance from Gov. Deval Patrick. The Ed Tech accelerator graduated seven companies including,Listen Edition, Gradeable, Cognii, Empow Studios, Countdown, EduCanon, and Intellify Learning.
Kudos to the LearnLaunchX team for putting on such a great event, epecially Jean Hammond, Mark Miller, Vinit Nijhawan, Eileen Rudden, and Hakan Satiroglu. It was also great to see how District Hall is coming along as well.
ROAM Makes Two Big Announcements - Mobile commerce platform provider, ROAM (an Ingenico company), announced a partnership with Merchant Warehouse last Monday. With this partnership of local companies, ROAM will help Merchant Warehouse expand its mobile payment acceptance solutions. Merchant Warehouse, an industry leader in payment technologies and merchant account services, will leverage ROAM’s secure mobile card readers, software, and other services to provide its merchants and partners with new opportunities for mobile payments.
Greg Cohen, Merchant Warehouse's Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer said in the press release announcing the partnership, “We chose to partner with ROAM because of its proven product line and best-in-class technology, as well as the company’s commitment to investing in continuous product evolution.” He added, “ROAM’s roadmap is at the forefront of the industry and is aligned with what our customers are asking for in mobile payment acceptance technology.”
Eric Hoffman, Senior VP of US Sales for ROAM said, “Merchant Warehouse understands that a broad offering of products, integration and service is key to helping its customers extend into the mobile payment acceptance space. We are excited about what we will be able to do together in delivering an exceptional customer experience for merchants, partners and ultimately, the consumer.”
More recently, on Monday of this week, ROAM announced that Southwestern Advantage, "a leading international education and character development company," will be using ROAM to power its mobile point-of-sale solution. "The end-to-end solution known as Southwestern Swipe will enable the company’s dealers to securely accept credit card payments on smartphones and tablets while out in the field selling the Southwestern Advantage Learning System."
Weft Launches at TechCrunch DISRUPT - Marc Held, who co-founded the mobile personal assistant setup Zazu, and Lee Wright, a former VP of Marketing for CoreStreet, unveiled their new product, Weft, at last week's TechCrunch DISRUPT in San Francisco. The product, described by Wright as "Waze for domestic and international cargo," is officially called, the Weft Tracking and Control System.
This system helps reduce costs and improves on-time performance in the shipment of goods anywhere in the world by using Weft sensor units on cargo. 'Shippers' can use Weft's platform to set up reports and alerts to let them and their partners know the location and environmental condition of their shipments at any time.
The company is currently splitting time between Boston and San Francisco, but may head out West as the product has generated more interest out in Silicon Valley than in Boston. Let's hope they stick around.
TiE Angels joined a $2 million in Series A round for Maxwell led by Tribeca Venture Partners and was also joined by Lerer Ventures, Vaizra Investments, BoxGroup, and other angel investors.
Based in both New York and Boston, the company provides "a no-cost, benefits management service for businesses to manage all types of insurance including medical, dental, vision, life, disability, COBRA administration, HRA/HSA, FSA, and 401(k). Maxwell Health’s platform assists employees in the decision-making process as they choose a benefits plan for their family. The easy-to-use dashboard also empowers businesses to track health care spending and enrollment. Maxwell’s mobile app includes insurance information, interaction with a concierge service, and an integrated wellness program that streams in employees’ physical activity and lets them redeem rewards from their employers for healthy habits."
Wordstream Announces New Product Developments - WordStream has launched an expanded PPC (Pay-Per-Click) platform, which now includes support for "Landing Page Creation and Lead Management," which has been in the works for about a year.
Previously, Wordstream's platform has had the capabilities to support PPC Keyword Research, Ad Optimization, and Bid Management and Reporting. The expanded platform includes support for creating and managing landing pages as well as the leads that get generated through PPC.
For more detailed info, check out Larry Kim's blog post on Wordstream's latest developments.
Lavastorm Announces New Member to Board of Directors - Boston-based Lavastorm Analytics, a global analytics software company, announced that it has named Peter JL Griffiths to the company’s Board of Directors. Griffiths is currently executive vice president and group executive in the Enterprise Solutions and Technology Group at CA Technologies.
As Drew Rockwell, Lavastorm's CEO said in a press release, “Over the course of his 20-year career in the software industry, Peter has had an exceptional track record of building industry-leading organizations in the analytics space."
"At Lavastorm Analytics, we are reinventing the way business people access, manage and analyze their data – replacing slow, inflexible processes with highly responsive processes that put greater analytic power in the hands of decision makers," he continued. "Peter’s talent, insight, and wisdom are exactly what we wanted to add to the Lavastorm Analytics Board and will help us further increase the billions of dollars in added revenue or reduced expenses that our customers have achieved using our agile, data discovery software.”
Pingup Adds New Functionality to Mobile Booking App - The Innovation District-headquartered mobile booking app, Pingup, unveiled new functionality to its product yesterday. The app's new interface "puts the power of booking local services [ie. spa visits, hair salon appointments, and restaurant reservations, etc.] directly into the hands of the consumers."
The app now provides direct access to more than 5,000 businesses nationwide. A real differentiator for Pingup is that unlike single-function apps like Uber, Pingup users can book appointments, make reservations, and even request a taxi, all on one easy-to-use platform.
Pingup was started by CEO Mark Slater as a simple messaging service, but evolved into "an easy-to-use, actionable interface for users to get things done."
- Fortified Bicycle Alliance, (previously Gotham Bicycle) launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund two new models of lifetime-guaranteed, theft-resistant, weatherproof, high-lumen aluminum bicycle lights, called the Aviator and the Afterburner. The former is a front light, while the latter is a back light.
This is the second Kickstarter campaign for the company with MIT roots. It had previously raised $84,000 in funding for its original theft-proof light through the crowd-funding site.
The company's goal for the Aviator/Afterburner Kickstarter campaign is $24,000.
- Also, on Monday, MassChallenge company 88 acres will be launching its first Kickstarter campaign for its organic food project.
Finally, a huge congratulations to uTest for turning 5 this week! And, also kudos to the Venture Cafe for opening up in a new space in the CIC.