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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

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The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Lucy: The original thesis for Lola Travel has failed.

Dylan: That’s not an unusual thing for startups — they pivot all the time. But Kayak co-founder Paul English had long set his sights on building the next big consumer tech company in Boston, first with his incubator Blade and then with Lola, which was initially released last year as a travel concierge app that could take on consumer giants like Expedia.

English could eventually focus on the big consumer prize again, but for now, his sole focus is the release of Lola 2.0, which he deems the “ultimate” app for business travelers. Taking some of the concepts from Lola’s consumer version — namely the messaging with live travel agents aspect — the new app aims to make business travel super easy through a personalized search engine, direct booking and live agent service.

But even though Lola is in the business software space now, English told me in a recent interview that it won’t stop him from running the Boston company with a consumer mindset.

“I will say we’re going to attack business as if we’re a consumer company,” English said, recalling advice Intuit co-founder Scott Cook gave him when he was at the business software company. “One of the things I learned from Scott at Intuit was the way to win business software is to treat this almost like consumer in terms of simplicity and speed, so to me, most business software is kind of ugly and slow, and if we can do something that’s sexy and fast and light and modern, I think that’s going to play a big role in helping us advance.” Read more: Kayak Co-Founder Ditches Consumer Ambitions to Chase Business Travelers

Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves today.

Lucy: For Joshua Redstone, the realization that something was wrong with measuring cups came around four years ago while he was baking bread. “Traditional measuring cups have this problem that they get worse measuring small amounts,” Redstone, an Amherst native who moved back to Cambridge after working for Facebook and Google, told me in an interview. After many calculations, Redstone came up with a mathematical solution to the problem that translated into a new kind of measuring cup. Quite appropriately, Redstone named his invention after the founding father of geometry: Euclid. In my story, I tried to explain why Euclid measures small amounts of liquid as accurately as large amounts. There’s also a video that shows the product in action – measuring exactly one cup of reduced fat milk. Read more: The Unique Shape of This Measuring Cup Helps You Reduce Errors in the Kitchen

Dylan: Big news for Endeavor Robotics, iRobot’s defense spinoff. According to BBJ, the Chelmsford-based company won a $158.5M contract with the U.S. Army, making it the company’s biggest deal yet.

Lucy: MassMutual launched today LifeRisk 360, a new product that uses data science techniques to create a mortality risk scoring system for the life insurance industry.

Dylan: If you have $10.5M to spare, you can buy the Brookline mansion of Moshe Yanai, whose company Infinidat just raised a Series C round at a $1.6B valuation. BBJ has all the details.

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

Business groups go to SJC to challenge ‘millionaires tax’ proposal [Globe]

It was easy to leave ‘Silicon Valley,’ T.J. Miller says [Globe]

Ace Hardware Acquires The Grommet to Gain ‘Competitive Gold’ in Retail [BostInno]

Boston Startups and Tech Companies Hiring in Octobe [BostInno]

Infinidat Raises $95M Series C Led by Goldman Sachs at $1.6B Valuation [BostInno]

New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

Dylan: Newburyport-based Clearsurance, which is basically like a Yelp for reviewing insurance carriers, has raised a $4M Series A round that was led by its co-founder and CEO Michael Crowe. Crowe, an insurance industry vet, was joined by West Coast investment firm Davis Capital Partners for the round, which will be used for strategic hires, product development and marketing efforts.

Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Dylan: DraftKings has hired former CBS executive Ezra Kucharz for the newly created role of chief business officer. Kucharz, who was previously president of CBS Local Digital Media, will oversee business development, ad sales and corporate development. The latter will include identifying opportunities for strategic ventures and acquisitions, DraftKings said in an announcement. “We see tremendous growth opportunity through expansion of our sales and sponsorships business, strategic M&A, and continued development of our many great partnerships,” DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said in a statement.

If you want a list of all the big personnel announcements from last month in the Boston tech world, I have you covered. Read more: The Top Boston Tech Hires, Promotions (and Departures) in September

In The Community

The events and happenings to know about tonight and this week.

Lucy: There’s still time to apply for the 2018 edition of Pulse, MassChallenge’s digital health startup accelerator. If your startup has raised less than $500K in equity-based funding, you may qualify. Deadline is October 10 at noon.

Dylan: As for events happening this week, Founder Institute hosts an event tonight at Pivotal Labs in Cambridge, ezCater hosts a chat on sales strategy at WeWork Back Bay tomorrow, and the Reality Virtually Hackathon kicks off on Friday. Find more Boston tech & startup events for the rest of October in BostInno Approved.

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Meet The Authors

Dylan Martin

Lucia Maffei

Kyle Gross

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