For promising young startups, the funding, mentorship and other benefits that accelerator programs provide can be invaluable. That’s why so many ship up to Boston for the opportunity to be a part of them. But the innovations emerging from participants this year were some of the most original yet.
Here are four that caught our eye from last year’s accelerator sessions.
This startup, a grad of last year’s Techstars Boston spring class, announced mid-October that it raised $2.2 million in seed funding to develop its smart, wireless HVAC Zoning system. And with that backing, ecovent was able to start accepting pre-orders through its website for the product, which allows homeowners to control temperature room by room. Techstars Boston managing director Semyon Dukach, invested via Atlas Venture’s Boston Syndicate. Others that participated in the round included Otter Consulting and angel investors Stewart Alsop, Julia Austin, Will Herman, Warren Katz and Michael Mark. Ecovent also raised $605,000 in angel funding back in April.
In total, the startup has raised $2.8 million. And the impact ecovent will have is notable: At the Techstars Demo Day, the team asserted that HVAC monitoring system lowers utility bills by around 35 percent. The products won’t ship until August 2015 — but you can start by reserving and designing your customized system now.
This company, formerly known as Narvii, took part in the Techstars Boston Spring 2014 class, and has built what it calls “mobile micro communities” — a network of apps that are each dedicated to a specific niche interest, such as Minecraft or anime (there are currently 15 communities). Last summer Amino closed a $1.65 million Series A round from Union Square Ventures, Google Ventures, SV Angel, Box Group, Slow Ventures and Kal Vepuri. In a blog post about the investment, Union Square Ventures’ Andy Weissman reported that Amino’s apps have accrued 500,000 downloads. He described the Amino thesis this way: “for communities on mobile devices, hyper specific is of more value than general; a series of apps is of more value than one; and people are looking to build online relationships through the phone now, not just on the computer.”
Back in October, this high tech company — which was founded by Harvard University professor Jennifer Lewis — took home $50,000 at the MassChallenge awards. But Voxel8 didn’t stop there. By mid-December, the Somerville-based firm raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Braemar Energy Ventures. Voxel8 created an innovative multi-material printer that allows designers and engineers to create products with embedded 3D electronics. Jiong Ma, partner at Braemar Energy Ventures, said in a news release that the startup’s technology can fuel the “mass customization of smart devices in new form factors without the cost and waste of the traditional supply chain.”
And Voxel8 has some major milestones coming in early 2015: The startup will be participating in the Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 6-9.
This life sciences startup, founded out of MIT, was one of four companies to take home the $100,000 grand prize at MassChallenge. The company has developed “cell-squeezing” technology enable better delivery of materials into cells for life-altering research and therapeutic purposes. Hot off its big win, SQZ Biotech partnered with NASA to study its approach at the International Space Station to identify methods for applying the technology to a microgravity environment. On top of that, Boeing and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space awarded the company the $200,000 CASIS-Boeing Prize for Technology in Space.
As for what’s next for the firm: “We’ve been getting a lot of interest from the bigger pharmas and biotechs to use our system so they can understand their drugs better,” CEO Agustin Lopez Marquez told Med City News.
Founder Armon Sharei added that long term, the startup aims to work with patient-derived cells, to potentially train a person’s own immune cells so they’re capable of fighting diseases like cancer, HIV or Ebola for them.
Image of colleagues collaborating via Shutterstock.