While many people may think of San Francisco or New York as startup hotspots, Boston continues to prove itself as a serious tech hub. With universities like Harvard and MIT, high rates of venture capital investment, and an abundance of creative and qualified people, Boston is quickly becoming an international startup destination.
Here are a few Boston-based startups that we think you should keep an eye on:
In the energy industry…
Sungage Financial, a BIGfish client, is a marketplace that provides homeowners with easy, online access to low-cost financing for solar equipment. Sungage partners with leading solar installers and institutional investors to help homeowners save money on energy. An innovator in solar finance, Sungage launched the nation’s first secured solar loan program in Connecticut in 2013. The company is committed to helping homeowners save more through solar ownership (not leasing). Sungage Partner Installers design a system that is right for each individual site and the homeowners’ energy needs. Shortly after a system is put into place, homeowners begin using their energy savings to make fixed monthly payments on their loan.
In the education industry…
Flashnotes powers the student-to-student exchange of high-quality academic material. Students are able to create flashcards, study guides, notes, and video tutorials based on their courses, and can then sell those resources to fellow students. Flashnotes states, “Sharing notes and studying together is nothing new. At Flashnotes we didn’t invent the concept of students working together, we just made sharing notes and knowledge with classmates better.” All of this is possible through a technology platform that enables students to exchange material and get paid for their contributions. College students ultimately need two things: better grades and more money, and Flashnotes claims they have the solution to both of these problems. They believe in “empowering students to help one another.” In addition, Barnes & Noble has recently invested in this startup and Flashnotes is quite excited about the partnership.
In the communications industry…
Place Messaging from Path
Path, which recently acquired Cambridge-based TalkTo, lets users text questions to millions of businesses in the United States and Canada without the hassle of searching for numbers and calling customer service. Users can also view the responses that nearby businesses offer to other users. Co-founder and CEO Stuart Levinson states, “We wanted it to be incredibly simple to text any business in America just as easily as you text a friend.” Providing fast answers to users’ questions is not easy, but the founders of Place Messaging from Path believe they can make that happen. The company promises to be part human and part machine and answer all of your questions without giving you a headache. Levinson claims, “The more you use it, the more it feels natural, and it’s why a lot of people have said to us — ‘It’s like Siri, but it works.”
In the food industry…
LeanBox is a company that aims to revolutionize the way people consume food in the workplace by providing LeanBox kiosks to businesses that are stocked daily with fresh food options for every meal of the day. LeanBox is far from a standard vending machine. It gives employees access to healthy, fresh and innovative food solutions from the comfort of their office. From hearty meals and savory sandwiches to creamy yogurts and refreshing fresh pressed juice, LeanBox offers benefits unlike anything else. All you have to do is walk up to the kiosk, pick what you want using the iPad attached to the door, swipe your card and take your food. The co-founders dislike the phrase “vending machine” because the kiosks are not money-makers for companies. Every business that carries LeanBox is subsidizing the kiosks, making the price significantly lower than at typical retail outlets. Employers are charged a monthly fee based on the size of their company and then employees buy the food at cost.
In the transportation industry…
Although Uber and the MBTA seem to be Boston’s go-to transportation methods, Bridj is gaining popularity as it offers an inexpensive and comfortable alternative. Bridj uses small vans that feature Wi-Fi and fit up to 14 people. Used widely in Europe, Bridj enables users to choose when they want to leave, where they want to go to, book trips days or minutes in advance, know the fare before they book, and track the van in real time. Fares cost slightly more than the typical MBTA fare, but don’t exceed the start-ups $5 maximum rate in Boston. Founded by 23-year-old Middlebury College graduate, Matthew George, Bridj is “reinventing public transit to match where people actually are,” he said. “We want people to open their phones and say, ‘Hey, I want to go to the bar in Cambridgeport, I know other people going to the bar, there’s probably going to be a Bridj that goes from my area to the bar.’” With Uber valued at more than $40 billion, we believe alternative transportation methods like Bridj have big potential in this growing market.