January 23, 2014

What To Expect From the Newest Boston Techstars Class

Yesterday afternoon, Katie Rae, Reed Sturtevant, David Cohen, and the Boston Techstars team announced its latest cohort, and we must say, it is a pretty impressive looking crew.

This is seventh Techstars class in Boston and the first that will be located at Techstars new office in the Leather District. The teams met each other and officially started the program earlier this week and will continue until April 29th.

This year's cohort includes a wide array companies working in very different verticals. As Rae said in the announcement on the Techstars blog, there are "companies building mobile-first communities, companies optimizing hiring and labor workforces and even one focused on self-improvement.

Here is a look at some of the companies involved and some thoughts on each:

Cangrade "automates HR with a candidate assessment and prediction tool," and promotes the idea of "hiring better." The company raised a $50K Seed Round in 2012 and "researched over 200,000 employees from over 500 companies and developed a breakthrough platform that automates hiring and predicts employee success." 

Here is an introductory video from the company:


Change Collective
We covered Ben Rubin and Derek Haswell's health/wellness/life betterment platform earlier this week. The company already announced that it had been selected for Techstars as well as revealing that it had raised $1.4M to "transform change." 

The former Zeo employees believe that achieving "the goal of achieving a successful change of habit, rests in role models, mentors, and teachers." So they launched a site to bring something different to the world of self-improvement and quantified self.

ecoVent, which was founded at MIT in 2012, makes a smart, wireless, HVAC Zoning system. Unless you've been living under a rock, you realize the potential for this "Internet of Things" company, seeing that Google just scooped up smart thermostat company Nest for $3.2B!

In addition to have a smart thermostat, ecoVent's product also includes sensors that can track motion, temperature, and humidity. This allows users to control the temperature of every single room in a home with a wireless device like phone or tablet.

Here's ecoVent's Dipul Patel explaining the concept last year:


HermesIQ is looking to streamline "clinical workflows with intelligent software." They've already achieve a lot since being founded at MIT, including being the Nuance Healthcare app-of-the-month, the athenahealth hackathon winner, a Brigham & Women's Hospital hackathon winner, an MIT100K pitch finalist, and the recent TechCrunch pitch-off winner.

The hardware and software platform aims to quantify action sports and connect participants and brands, but more specifically, wants to get more people active and outdoors. A former MassChallenge participant, they announced $144K in Partial Close funding in October. 

A local, family run e-commerce company, Litographs "creates art from the books you've read and loved." The site has posters, t-shirts, and tote bags that are all created entirely from the text of classic books by a team of artists from all over the world. 

Started by Corey and Danny Fein, Litographs aims to promote literacy, both at home and abroad, and is partnered with the International Book Bank to "send one new, high-quality book to a community in need for each product we sell."

Mapkin has been on our radar for a while now. We first covered the crowd-sourced/personalized navigation product created by a few Nuance/Dragon alums last summer.

Since then, Marc Regan and crew seem to have been everywhere, but most importantly, they have been working on building an unbelievable product. Of all the companies involved in the new Techstars cohort, Mapkin is the most intriguing and could really make a huge jump with the support of the Techstars community.

Narvii, founded by Northeastern grad Benjamin Anderson, created a mobile-first community platform, called Amino, "for long-tail interests, organizations and brands."

As the Amino website explains, the company believes that, "when you get people together who are passionate about a similar interest, amazing things happen." 

Onion is building a backend as a service software platform for connected devices. With the success of companies like Localytics and Kinvey coming out of Techstars the past few years, this could be one of the big surprises in this year's cohort.

With a team made up of RISD and Yale grad Eliza Becton and MIT Sloan-ies Frank Lee and Sean Grundy, Refresh is building eco-friendly, cost-effective beverage vending machines.

Another MassChallenge alum, the company claims to be able to "cut vending operators' variable costs and CO2 emissions by 80%."

SUNDAR is a B2B marketplace for apparel and accessories sourcing, matches suppliers with creative professionals from all over the world.

The company aims to redefine "the fashion and luxury industries through an intelligent digital marketplace for sourcing global materials," giving "real-time access to quality materials and unique artisans, both locally and globally."

WorkMob is a partner driven freelance platform, initially targeting the API integration space. 

The company was started by Nick Woodhams and Matt Sornson when they found, as they explained on their site, that they "were spending close to half our time sourcing, scoping, quoting, negotiating, and communicating with clients...50% of our time was spent not doing what we loved, BUILDING!"

"So we decided to build WorkMob," they said, "a system that takes care of as much of the pre-building part of freelancing as possible."

As we've said before, it is a BIG deal making into the Techstars Boston program, the Techstars program that consistently produces one success story after another.

Dennis Keohane is the Senior Writer for VentureFizz. You can follow Dennis on Twitter (@DBKeohane) by clicking here.