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The Coolest New Tech From Boston’s Top Universities

by Erini Katopodis

boston business cleantech consumer electronics marketing social media technology

Boston has long been a frontrunner in the tech industry, home to innovators from all over the world. In fact, a 2014 study found that Boston has the second-largest tech industry in the nation, trumped only by Silicon Valley. The survey revealed a 5.2 percent job increase in tech jobs in Silicon Valley, with Boston just behind them at 4.3 percent; that’s 145,484 jobs generated just in the tech sector! With so many technology-focused colleges in the Boston area like MIT, Northeastern, Boston University, Harvard and Tufts, it’s no wonder words like “hackathon,” “Kickstarter” and “startup” have become norms in Boston’s vocabulary. Want to know what’s coming next in the world of tech? Here are a few university-based startups to keep your eye on before they go big.

From MIT

Currency Panda: Sure to be a big hit with frequent travelers, this website specializes in letting people buy foreign currency before those big, stressful trips abroad. It’s then delivered to their door to avoid the hassle of exchanging money at the bank or airport. It works the other way too – if you return from a trip with foreign currency, you can sell it back to Currency Panda, pickup service included.

EveryBiome: EveryBiome promises to offer an advanced personal health analysis. They’re developing technology to better manage chronic diseases. Users will be able to monitor their diets, and receive early diagnoses, all from the comfort of the their own home. This cross-disciplinary team of MIT grad students and researchers are combining their expertise in bioengineering, electronics and product design to help prevent and detect illnesses. 

Woobo: Not your average robot companion. Woobo is working on delivering a robot that works not only as a light-hearted assistant for parents, but also as a companion for children. It can talk to them, teach them, grow with them, inspire them; big plans for a little robot. MIT’s high hopes with this combination of cutting-edge robotics and AI technology has a great chance to be in the spotlight.

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From Harvard

PIVOT: Ever pass by an intriguing unmarked street or building and wonder what its significance might be? PIVOT aims to satisfy that curiosity. The app lets you hold your phone up to different areas and allows access to unique historical information about the place. The app even has a database of old photographs and videos from the location’s past for a unique view of your place of choosing.

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Asma Jaber, Co-Founder of Pivot

SplitNGo: This app is especially great in a city like Boston that’s packed with great places to dine. SplitNGo is the easy and fast way out of a packed restaurant. The app lets you view your bill and pay right through your phone. It has the opportunity to really revolutionize the way restaurants turn tables on busy nights. For foodies who eat out often, this is a must.

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Andres Sarmiento, Founder of SplitNGo

Zomida: Another one for the fine diners out there; Zomida hasn’t officially launched, but it plans to let users to buy local, homemade foods from amateur chefs or home-caterers. It’s a unique idea that seems like it could really bring communities together with the power of food and allow some new adventures for the palate.

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Co-Founders of Zomida Amira Valliani (left) and Subhadra Banda (right)

Just Bananas: Are you sensing a food theme from Harvard? Just Bananas wants to revolutionize the way customers think of ice cream. They use any ripe surplus bananas distributors might have and make a dairy-free, gluten-free alternative to ice cream. Companies that utilize what’s already around (the surplus) to make something new already have great business sense; this company has a chance to really take off in the Boston area. We love the sustainability angle, too!
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From Tufts

Cymbal: A music discovery iOS app that helps spread musical taste from friend to friend. You can share the song you’re listening to in the moment, like and comment on others’ music to start a conversation, and listen to a constantly updating playlist made up of the music of those around you. It’s unique from other algorithm-powered apps and sites and gives a human touch to music discovery.

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Amadou Crookes, a Developer of Cymbal

From Boston University

UNItiques: A great alternative to sites like Craigslist and Facebook, UNItiques helps college students and grads get rid of unneeded and unwanted clothes, furniture, etc. The website requires an .edu email address before buying or selling, giving users a sense of safety and community that sites like Craigslist can’t offer. It has a great promise of gaining traction as it spreads from school to school, especially in Boston where there are so many universities.

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Alexandra Shadrow, Founder of UNItiques

From Northeastern

Fresh Truck: Boston locals know how hard it can be to get groceries in certain parts of Boston, especially when New England’s weather patterns strike with sudden rain or hefty snowfall. Fresh Truck helps users stay healthy by making fresh groceries more accessible, delivering them in a specific space every week and hosting events as well. They load old school buses with nutritious products and are actively expanding, having added another bus just this September. There’s a lot of really cool things coming out of Northeastern. In fact, they have an entire venture accelerator, “IDEA” designed to help students create innovative startups. 38 ventures have already launched!

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