We are thrilled to introduce you to BostInno’s 2019 50 on Fire.
Today, we’re officially announcing the 50 people and companies that are heating up Boston’s ecosystem.
We invite you and your team, friends, family—and anyone who wants to network with Boston’s most inspiring and fastest-growing entrepreneurs, executives, startups and businesses—to join us Nov. 7 at Artists For Humanity to celebrate this year’s winners. We’ll honor the people, companies and ideas that continue to cement Boston as the global hub for innovation.
If you’ve been to 50 on Fire before, you’ll notice that we’re doing things a little differently this year. We’ve previously announced 150 finalists prior to the event and revealed the 50 winners at the ceremony. However, by unveiling the 50 now and gathering everyone at the event, we allow for the community as a whole to celebrate.
But of course, it wouldn’t be 50 on Fire without a big reveal. At this year’s event, we’ll have an action-packed video highlighting all of the 50, but we’ll also be unveiling the 2019 Inno Blazers, the seven people and companies (one from each category) that a panel of esteemed judges has selected. Each Inno Blazer will receive the esteemed red blazer jacket.
This year marks BostInno’s eighth annual 50 on Fire. That means that, since 2010, we’ve showcased 350 of Boston’s best and brightest. In the spirit of new additions, we’re also going to be unveiling our inaugural Alumni Blazers, seven past winners that are still as on fire as ever.
Now, on to the most important question. What makes a company or individual on fire? We’re looking at the people, businesses and organizations that have had a banner year in Boston’s innovation economy. That might be marked by a major funding round, a recent product launch, a big hire, remarkable headcount growth, a scientific breakthrough, a successful business pivot, an amazing rebrand—the possibilities are nearly endless.
Candidates were selected from both internal and external nominations, and winners were selected by the BostInno editorial team. Read about all 50 on Fire below.
Software (B2B, AI, ML, VR/AR)
Catalant Technologies: The strategy execution platform has been smoldering for a while now. Founded as “HourlyNerd” in 2013, it attracted interest early on from “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban, who invested $450,000 in the company’s seed round that year. Six years on, the company now has more than $75 million in funding, most recently from a $41 million Series D round in 2017. In the last year alone, Catalant has opened offices in Rochester, N.Y.; California; and London. Earlier this year, BostInno sister publication the Boston Business Journal nominated Catalant as the second-fastest-growing company in Massachusetts.
Corvus Insurance: This AI-driven insurance provides cyber insurance for companies. In November 2018, Corvus raised $10 million from .406 Ventures and Hudson Structured, with participation from Bain Capital Ventures. Its focus lately has been expansion into the South. In April, it opened its first Atlanta office; that same month, it said it would open an office in Dallas. The company says that this year, it has launched three new product offerings, more than quadrupled its monthly sales and doubled its headcount.
Payfactors: The Braintree-based compensation software service also happens to be a winner of BostInno’s 2019 Coolest Companies awards for its spirit at BostonFest. The company says it has a 95 percent retention rate among its customers; just in its Peer product, it has 2 million employees, exchanging data on over 4,000 jobs from 1,000 companies from a grand total of 157 countries. Plus, this year, it has expanded its headcount by 28 percent and its office by 10,000 sq. ft.
Sea Machines: Two words: autonomous boats. The idea first came as an afterthought to CEO and founder Michael Johnson while he was working on an oil spill response team in the Arctic. Now, it’s a fully fledged startup: Sea Machines, a maker of software for self-driving boats operating out of an East Boston shipyard. The company closed a $10 million Series A round led by Accomplice in December 2018. This year, it has successfully deployed an autonomous oil spill response vessel, partnered with Canadian workboat manufacturer Hike Metal and launched a global dealer program to expand sales internationally. In March, Sea Machines announced the opening of a new Boston-based technology office.
SmartBear: The ursine software testing platform has been shopping recently. In the last two years, the 10-year-old startup has made four acquisitions, most recently Bitbar, a 10-year-old DevOps company based in Helsinki, Finland. Earlier this year, SmartBear acquired Cucumber Ltd., a leader in the Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) community and provider of open source test automation framework “Cucumber.” (SmartBear itself was acquired by Francisco Partners in 2017.) This year, SmartBear has introduced API standardization, implemented AI into its products and held its annual conference, SmartBear Connect.
Wise Systems: An alumnus of prestigious incubators Techstars, MassChallenge and MIT Global Founders’ Skills Accelerator, Wise Systems develops enterprise software to help companies optimize delivery routes. Just last December, it raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund. In 2019, the company says, it has grown its team by 80 percent and significantly expanded its client base: It counts Anheuser-Busch among its customers, along with companies in the bespoke passenger transport, natural gas and automotive industries.
Hardware & Devices
DUST Identity: This startup uses the dust of diamonds—yes, diamonds—to create unique security tags for goods ranging from cars to cosmetics via nanotechnology. Originally conceived in the halls of MIT, DUST Identity launched from stealth less than a year ago with $2.3 million in seed funding led by Kleiner Perkins, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has backed such prominent names in the tech industry as Amazon, Google and Sun Microsystems. In July, it secured $10 million in a Series A round, also led by Kleiner Perkins, which it planned to use for product development, engineering, devising a go-to-market strategy and growing the customer base across industries. It has been accepted into the MIT Startup Exchange STEX25 program and partnered with SAP, and, this year, the company has doubled its headcount.
Embr Labs: In February, we put Embr Labs on our list of Makers to Watch this year. The MIT-born and Intel Capital-backed startup has built a bracelet that controls temperature by tricking your brain into feeling warmer or cooler. The device first gained traction in 2017 after its Kickstarter campaign more than tripled its goal in a little over 24 hours, raising almost $630,000. In January, Embr Labs announced a research collaboration with Johnson & Johnson to explore the efficacy of its thermal waveforms for conditions experienced by folks experiencing menopause. And just last week, it closed a $6 million Series B round led by DigiTx Partners with participation from Safar Partners, Joyance Partners, Bose Ventures and PBJ Capital.
Locus Robotics: The Wilmington-based startup was spun out of Quiet Logistics in 2015 after Amazon bought Kiva Systems. Since then, it’s only been making moves. In 2017, Locus announced that it was selling robots to DHL Supply Chain, the largest third-party logistics company in the world. Much more recently, in April, it raised $26 million in Series C funding. That money has gone toward several recently released upgrades and enhancements to its robotic hardware, navigation software, UX and management dashboards.
Realtime Robotics: Boston-based robotics startup Realtime Robotics graduated from MassRobotics’ accelerator late last year. Since then, the company, led by Duke University professors Dan Sorin and George Konidaris, has been working out of an office in Boston’s de facto startup neighborhood, Fort Point. Its focus these days is developing a specialized processor for generating safe robot motion plans in microseconds. In October 2017, Realtime Robotics closed a $2 million seed round from SPARX Group, Scrum Ventures and Toyota AI Ventures, the Toyota Research Institute’s venture capital arm. In April this year, it disclosed $7.6 million in funding to the SEC; it seeks to raise at least $9.4 million more.
Markforged: One of Greater Boston’s preeminent 3D printing startups, Markforged closed an $82 million Series D round just in March. That’s on top of a $30 million Series C round in November 2017 from three major investors: Microsoft, Porsche and Siemens. This year, the company debuted “Blacksmith,” an AI-powered software that makes manufacturing machines “aware” of the parts they produce so they can automatically adjust programming, the company said. Markforged also opened its European headquarters in Dublin in April and, on top of its Watertown location, will open a 25,000-sq.-ft. production facility in Billerica next month. There’s time for fun, too: four Markforged printers were used on this year’s season of “Battlebots,” a robot-fighting TV series on the Discovery Channel.
Health Care, Healthtech & Wellness
Beam Therapeutics: The Cambridge biotech startup bills itself as the first company to pursue development of new therapies using CRISPR base editing technology, heralded by many as “CRISPR 2.0.” In March, Beam Therapeutics closed a monster Series B round: $135 million to advance the company’s development of next-generation CRISPR technologies, expand its pipeline of base editing programs and further extend its scientific and technical leadership. Indeed, just six months later, Beam nabbed Terry-Ann Burrell from J.P. Morgan to serve as the startup’s CFO. Beam was selected by the New England Venture Capital Association as this year’s “Revolutionary New Therapeutic or Platform Startup” at an awards ceremony in May. It has licenses and agreements with Harvard University, the Broad Institute and Editas Medicines.
Christoph Lengauer: A partner at local venture capital firm Third Rock Ventures, Lengauer is described as “instrumental” in the launch of several companies, including Relay Therapeutics, Celsius Therapeutics and Thrive Earlier Detection. Lengauer currently serves as interim chief scientific officer at Celsius. It’s not his first rodeo: He was previously chief scientific officer at Blueprint Medicines, a Cambridge-based oncology therapeutics company. Lengauer has previously earned the Novartis Oncology’s President’s Award for Top Innovator and has been elected to membership in the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars.
Definitive Healthcare: At just eight years old, the Framingham-based provider of data analytics for health care organizations has been featured as one of Massachusetts’ fastest-growing companies by the Boston Business Journal for the last three years. Today, Definitive has more than 2,500 clients and more than 350 employees. The company says it has grown to about $100 million via investments from firms like Spectrum and Advent International. In February, it used some of that cash to buy the vendor data services business of Chicago-based HIMSS Analytics to help strengthen its market intelligence platform.
Life Image: The Newton-based medical exchange platform is, to hear the company tell it, “reinventing how data is used in drug development.” Founded in 2008, the company has connected 10,000 health care facilities with some 150,000 U.S. providers and 58,000 clinics internationally. This year, Life Image has entered into at least eight partnerships with such organizations as NextGate and Stanford. The company is apparently still riding the waves of some big funding rounds from a few years back: a $15 million Series C round in 2013 and a $17.5 million financing round in 2015, plus an additional $5 million strategic investment that same year.
Kyruus: For the Boston-based health care logistics provider, it’s just partnership after partnership. Last week, it announced it would be partnering with Uber Health; in August, it linked up with the not-for-profit health system Norton Healthcare; and in July, it began working with Oregon Health and Science University. Last year, it moved to a brand-new office in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood. That all comes on the heels of plenty of successful funding rounds—most recently, a $4 million strategic investment from Salesforce Ventures (which itself added to the company’s $10 million round earlier in the year).
Sherlock Biosciences: The bioengineering startup launched in March this year with an impressive initial financing of $35 million. The following month, the company closed its Series A round, bringing its total capital to $49 million, including an unusual investment from the Open Philanthropy Project, an organization funded by billionaire Facebook and Asana co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. Sherlock’s technologies are currently in use at the co-founders’ labs at the Broad Institute and the Wyss Institute. Its two main products? SHERLOCK, a CRISPR-based method to detect and quantify specific genetic sequences, and INSPECTRTM, a synthetic biology-based molecular diagnostics platform.
Social Impact & Environmental Science
Altaeros: In a first, Greentown Labs-based startup Altaeros introduced to the world an autonomous aerial cell tower in February. Called the SuperTower, the aerial cell tower is a tethered blimp, which works as an autonomous aerostat that can lift telecommunications equipment over 800 feet in the air. Built with the ability to cover the same area as 15 ground-based cell towers, Altaeros uses the SuperTower to bring affordable broadband to rural communities around the world. The company partnered with Ericsson in February and March to test the validity of providing wireless cell service over long distances. In June, IoT provider Ondas Networks tested its IoT network on board the SuperTower.
DynamiCare Health: Boston-based DynamiCare Health operates a digital platform to monitor and reduce the use of drugs, opioids, alcohol and tobacco. The three-year-old company has a long list of accolades. DynamiCare Health was awarded $1 million by the State of Ohio as a Grand Prize Winner of the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge. It partnered with Brightview, the largest addiction treatment system in the state. The startup was also approved for a $1.2 million loan from MassDevelopment as part of its Emerging Technology Fund to help tech companies expand in Massachusetts. In July, it won its second grant from the National Institutes of Health. DynamiCare has been awarded a $222,000 Small Business Technology Transfer grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The DynamiCare program is live at seven treatment systems across the country, including the largest addiction treatment centers in Greater Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Cape Cod.
Sense: Cambridge-based Sense Labs makes home energy monitors to track and avoid energy wastage. Its flagship device, the Sense Home Energy Monitor, is a small piece of equipment that installs in the home’s electrical pane and measures current and voltage 1 million times per second, collecting high-resolution data (about 84 million times more data than the average “smart” meter collects). Sense also connects to Wi-Fi and reports this information through the cloud to the Sense apps for iOS, Android and the web. The company’s investors include Schneider Electric, Prelude Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group, Shell Ventures, Energy Impact Partners and iRobot. The company is now expanding to include home construction and smart home innovators.
Form Energy: Somerville-based MIT spinoff Form Energy has developed a new type of battery that can store renewable energy for months at a fraction of the current cost. The startup, one of Breakthrough Energy Ventures’ portfolio companies, uses sulfur instead of lithium to develop batteries. The Form Energy team’s research found that sulfur, which is a natural byproduct of gas and oil refining, is not only plentiful but also particularly good at storing energy long-term. The Greentown Labs-based energy startup recently raised $40 million in a Series B round led by Eni Next, the corporate venture capital vehicle of Italian oil and gas giant Eni Group. The company is currently designing its first pilot project for commercial application in utilities, an industry transitioning to renewable energy.
Community (Investors, Ecosystem Supporters, Mentors, Non-Profits, Other Innovators)
Beth Waterfall: Founder and executive director of ELEVATE Northeast, Beth Waterfall was formerly a marketing executive for lawyers and financial services who came to work in cannabis when she first became a patient in 2015. Suffering personal loss urged her into a stint in the cannabis industry. Now, she dons two hats: the first as an activist and the second as a marketing consultant. Her firm does marketing for law and tech firms in the marijuana space.
Heather Ames Versace: She is a successful startup COO, a STEM advocate, a volunteer and mentor. In 2006, Heather Ames Versace co-founded Neurala, which develops deep learning neural network software for smart products. Recently, she led the company through a change in its business model. That change led directly to the release of an end-to-end AI development platform called Brain Builder in March. Brain Builder gives organizations an all-in-one, intuitive platform for data tagging, training, deployment and analysis. Versace also works with a nonprofit entrepreneur mentor program called JASON, which provides curriculum and learning experiences in STEM for students in grade school and high-quality professional development for teachers. In June, she was honored by EY as a recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the New England region.
Jinane Abounadi: Jinane Abounadi is the executive director of MIT’s Sandbox Innovation Fund Program. Under Abounadi’s leadership, in just three years, the Sandbox program has mentored and funded more than 1,200 startups. With a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT, Abounadi is no stranger to building bridges between academia and industry. She has previously worked at two Boston-based startups, ITA and KAYAK. In her free time, she volunteers at her children’s schools. She served on the board of trustees of Shady Hill School for six years and on the founding school committee of the Center of Arabic Culture.
MassRobotics: Launched by industry veterans from Amazon Robotics and Vecna Robotics, MassRobotics is an innovation hub run by and for Boston-area engineers, rocket scientists and entrepreneurs. Since its launch in 2015, MassRobotics has become the largest hub in the country for robotics startups. It leads a cluster of 350 companies and corporations, incubating 35 startups, and partners with close to 40 corporations. The nonprofit secured $2.5 million from the state last year to expand its shared office and lab space in the Seaport District.
Nilanjana Bhowmik: Founder and general partner of Converge VC, Nilanjana Bhowmik is the first female president of The IndUS Entrepreneurs Boston (TiE). Since its inception, TiE Boston has educated high school students on entrepreneurship through its The Young Entrepreneurs (TYE) program, with 60 percent going on to start their own companies. Bhowmik has invested personal funds into the foundation and raised a significant amount of capital. In her past life, as an investment banker at Broadview (now Jefferies), Bhowmik led the bank’s research publications of market maps on middleware, application and security software.
Lifestyle (Food & Drink, Gaming, Travel, Consumer Tech, Sports)
Beth Santos: Beth Santos is the CEO and founder of Wanderful, an Airbnb for solo women travelers, as well as the founder of Wanderful’s B2B Women in Travel summit. Wanderful recently expanded into 10 countries and counts 40,000 women worldwide among its user base. For her work with the company, Santos was recently selected as a Tory Burch fellow.
Lola.com: B2B corporate travel software company Lola.com added hundreds of customers in the first half of 2019 and told BostInno it planned to double its headcount over the course of the year. In March, the company raised $37 million in a Series C round, bringing its total funding to $82 million. Lola.com also recently signed a partnership with American Express Global Business Travel, which will resell Lola’s software to its own customers.
Ori: Earlier this month, architectural robotics company Ori scored $20 million in a Series B funding round led by Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs. It also hired an executive from the residential arm of The We Company, WeWork’s parent company, as president: Edwin Hendriksen. In June, Ori began working with IKEA and gave over its manufacturing to the furniture giant.
Rocketbook: So far in 2019, Rocketbook has grown its team from eight employees to 30. On Amazon Prime Day, the startup partnered with Amazon to launch its Rocketbook Fusion notebook, which was released as a Prime Day exclusive. As founders Joe Lemay and Jake Epstein told BostInno in a recent interview, even NASA has bought Rocketbooks for its gift shops. Up to this point, the company has received $5 million in funding and makes money from product sales rather than outside investment.
Vesper: In 2016, voice-activated device manufacturing company Vesper raised $15 million in Series A funding, with the Amazon Alexa Fund as a strategic investor. Today, the startup has raised $52 million in funding from AAC Technologies, Baidu, Bose and more. In May, Vesper announced that it had created the world’s first battery-powered far-field voice-activated remote control, later followed by two additional microphone products in June and July.
Forefront: In April, workplace training software company Forefront, a startup grown out of the dorm room of two Babson College students, earned the $10,000 Babson Entrepreneurial Thought & Action Challenge Social Impact Award. The company was also an honorable mention in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas 2019. In March, CEO Yulkendy Valdez spoke on a panel at South by Southwest 2019 about the economic importance of retaining minority employees.
Visible Body: Since edtech company Visible Body’s Human Anatomy Atlas app was ranked one of Google Play’s Best Apps of 2018, the Newton-based company has been at the forefront of anatomy education. In late 2018, Visible Body received a strategic investment from Capitala Group and Lineage Capital. In May this year, it worked with Google to release more than 100 free, web-based AR anatomy models to visualize structures of the human body in real space; as a result, it was featured in Google’s I/O 2019 keynote.
Examity: Online proctoring program Examity raised $90 million in a recent funding round led by Great Hill Partners, bringing its total funding to over $120 million. The company currently employs around 100 people and plans to steadily hire 15 to 20 new employees each quarter. Over the last year, the company has doubled in size—since 2015, it has grown by 542 percent.
Ambi: Student engagement platform Ambi closed 2018 with $5 million in Series A funding, on top of a $1.5 million seed round, from San Francisco-based Steigen, Boston-based VC NXT Ventures and early-stage fund Global Investment. In March, it hired Q. Wade Billings, the former VP of technology at Infrastructure, as its SVP of technology. Recently, EdTech Breakthrough awarded Ambi 2019 Next-Gen School Solution Provider of the Year.
Unruly Studios: In May, learn-to-code edtech platform Unruly Studios raised $1.8 million in a funding round led by eCoast Angels, with Amazon Alexa Fund, AT&T, Rough Draft Ventures, TechStars, LearnLaunch and NextFab also participating in the round. This year, the company released its flagship product, Unruly Splats. It was also a finalist in BostInno’s 2019 Tech Madness.
Government & Civic Technology
ClearGov: Chris Bullock, CEO of digital data-profiling company ClearGov, reports that the company has now built more than 40,000 transparency profiles covering county governments and school districts. At the end of 2018, Sarah Webber and Vartan Hagopian joined its executive leadership team. In May, the startup announced the launch of a content distribution network in partnership with media sites Ballotpedia, GateHouse Media and Patch.
Rave Mobile Safety: In January of 2019, public safety software company Rave Mobile Safety acquired emergency notification startup SwiftReach Networks. Together, the merged entity now serves nearly 5,000 customers and is expanding rapidly, raising an undisclosed amount in a funding round with TCV, one of the largest growth and equity firms backing tech companies. This year, the startup introduced interoperability functions to its Rave Panic Button as well as a live-streaming function to its 911 Suite.
Bondlink: Fintech software startup Bondlink partnered with Concord-based Municipal Market Analytics in December 2018 and has since been actively growing its influence in the municipal bond market. In April, the startup launched BuyBostonBonds.com, which gives potential investors insight into Boston’s finances and currently funded projects. Recently, it announced a collaboration with Ipreo by IHS Markit, a fintech company with a similar platform.
Clear Ballot: In 2016, Clear Ballot, an electronic ballot software company, launched its ClearCast ballot processing system with the aim of making ballot processing more transparent. Now, the company has secured a total of $18 million in funding over three rounds. The newest version of its ClearVote system was just certified by the Electronic Assistance Commission.
Cortico: Cortico, a nonprofit in partnership with the MIT Media Lab that aims to foster constructive public conversation in the media, raised $2 million in funding in March from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, adding to the $900,000 it had received from the group in 2017. This brought the nonprofit’s total funding to $10 million, which it used to launch The Local Voices Network, a listening network for communities and local newsrooms. The Network gathers around Cortico’s AI-powered recording devices, which the company dubs “digital hearths.”
Design, Development and Marketing
Dataxu: Boston-based Dataxu has been using data science to change the way companies advertise for 10 years now. Today, some of its clients include the biggest names in business: Ford, Columbia, Epson and Universal Studios. Founded in 2009, the company occupied a few spaces before landing in the Exchange Place Skyscraper this January. The space, which includes an open office layout, whiskey bar and conference rooms named after TV shows, mirrors the company’s growth and energy. In its decade-long history, Dataxu has secured $87.5 million of funding and was valued at $300 million last October.
Rudyard Partners: Rudyard Partners, a luxury- and lifestyle-centric venture capitalist firm, helps fashion, beauty and hospitality brands transform their image. Its offering of marketing-based creative and strategy programs is working—the firms’ revenue has grown by 1,000% in the last three years. This year alone, the company played a role in the Jahnkoy x Puma show at New York Fashion Week and at the opening of Puma’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Rudyard Partners’ stylish Concord-based founder, Matthew Growney, also serves as a senior advisor for Puma USA and is the former managing director of Motorola Ventures.
Voicify: Voicify is capitalizing on the rise of voice assistants—just think how many people are now using Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. After going live this year, Voicify’s software currently is used by over 60 agencies to make voice apps for several brands. The company closed a Series B funding round in May, pushing its funding to $2 million.
Wistia: Wistia, a video-hosting company for businesses of all sizes, aims to make it easy for anyone to create and disseminate videos to their intended audience. After a banner year marked by the launch of multiple web series, Wistia is gaining traction in the corporate world for buying back the company from VC. One of the series Wistia spearheaded, titled One, Ten, One Hundred, won a Webby Award in May.
NeighborSchools: Launched this year, NeighborSchools is the new Airbnb—but for early child care. In an era where the costs of commercial day care are skyrocketing, the site helps experienced care professionals become licensed family child care providers and open residential facilities instead. It’s a win-win: good for parents scouring for affordable care options and great for caretakers with entrepreneurial aspirations of their own.
IMMAD: Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., have legalized either recreational marijuana, medical marijuana or both. But the substances’ effects on consumers’ driving has barely been dealt with. IMMAD, or Impairment Measurement Marijuana Driving, is determined to change that. The company has debuted a two-minute visual test to measure people’s ability to drive after cannabis consumption in the hopes of tempering the rising number of marijuana-related fatal car crashes.
Knox Financial: When homeowners are ready to move, Knox Financial takes matters into its own hands. The startup, only six months old, turns homes into investments by renting them out for the owners. Knox handles the piles of paperwork behind this process for a cut of the returns. After a seed funding round in March that brought in $1.4 million, the company is already overseeing 30 properties in the Greater Boston area and looking forward to a future in other major cities.
Cupixel: Anyone can be an artist—at least, that’s what Cupixel, an augmented reality sketching app, is teaching its customers. For $70, wannabe artists can purchase an all-inclusive kit of art supplies to draw Cupixel’s pre-selected sketches or pencil-drawn versions of photos the user uploads themselves. Funded by angel investors from around the globe, Cupixel has released two batches of kits since its launch in July through an exclusive partnership with the Home Shopping Network.
Tapple: In only 10 months, the team at Tapple has already brought a new personalized, targeted approach to marketing to several notable clients: Gibson Sotheby’s International, Havas Street and more. The startup uses QR codes, geolocation and NFC chips to allow people to give real-time feedback about products to other users and to companies. Longtime Boston-based entrepreneur Dean Hantzis is the brains behind the endeavor.
Indigo Ag: Cambridge-based Indigo Ag is an agtech company that aims to empower farmers to turn greater profit margins while implementing sustainable practices. The three-year-old startup uses microbiology research to help farmers replace chemicals and fertilizers and increase crop yield, but its most ambitious project is Indigo Carbon, a program to incentivize farmers to implement regenerative practices that uptake carbon. In June, it launched its new Terraton Initiative to accelerate carbon sequestration in light of increasing carbon emissions. The project seeks to remove 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In January, it also forayed into the agricultural transportation market to bring more underutilized trucks to the market and avoid backhauls.
Green City Growers: Urban farming startup Green City Growers (GCG) transforms underutilized spaces into biodiverse landscapes that provide access to hyperlocal food. After a career in reality television, Jessie Banhazl founded GCG in 2008 along with a college friend. In 2015, GCG became the Red Sox’s “Other Farm Team” by managing Fenway Park’s rooftop farm. The company also began programs with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston and Boston Properties. More recently, the company was awarded a USDA Farm-to-School grant, which aims to increase the amount of healthy, local foods served in schools and create economic opportunities for nearby farmers.
TUGG: Technology Underwriting Greater Good (TUGG) is a nonprofit that connects New England’s tech entrepreneurs with social enterprises serving local under-resourced youth. Its annual event Tech Gives Back is Boston’s largest philanthropic event. TUGG regularly organizes Lunch-and-Learns and its annual tequila and wine party. The nonprofit’s events encourages members of the Boston tech community to volunteer at local nonprofits.
ezCater: Unicorn online catering marketplace ezCater has had a busy 2019. In March, the company acquired Vancouver-based Monkey Group—the company’s second acquisition after corporate meal service provider Paris-based GoCater last year, which gave ezCater an outpost in France. In April, ezCater raised $150 million in a Series D-1 round, officially making it a unicorn and empowering it to continue expanding globally. In July, the company moved nearly 500 of its employees into new digs at 40 Water St. in the Financial District.
Toast: The restaurant management software maker became a unicorn last year after closing a $115 million Series D round. In January, the company launched a consumer-facing app: The Toast TakeOut, which allows diners at restaurants in the Toast network to order ahead and pick up their food in store. In April, Toast raised $250 million in a Series E round led by TCV and Tiger Global Management. And in July, the company acquired Chicago-based HR and payroll software company StratEx, whose software is used by restaurants to automate scheduling, applicant tracking, payroll, benefits and labor law compliance.
Akili Interactive Labs: A 50 on Fire winner in 2015, Akili Interactive Labs has been shaking up the world of Medtech and digital medicine for the past eight years. Founded by PureTech Health, Akili is focused on developing clinical video games that serve as treatments and assessments for different neurological disorders. With a team of neuroscientists and game designers, the company strives to build interactive, digital alternatives to pharmaceuticals and conventional treatment plans. An FDA approval is underway for Akili’s product for pediatric ADHD therapy, Project Evo. Along with building its own digital therapeutic distribution platform, the company has also struck partnerships with key pharma companies in the US and abroad.