Truth be told, it’s impossible to stay on top of every emerging startup in The Hub (believe me—we’re always trying). But despite an overwhelmingly constant influx of nightlife apps, analytics tools and social platforms, every once in a while a new company catches our attention. There’s no telling at such an early stage whether or not these ventures will ever truly take off, but something tells us they have potential. And there’s no better time than now to get acquainted with these kinds of startups—as they expand into new markets, grow their user bases and attract investors, you will have been in the know from the beginning.
Here are a handful of local companies currently on our radar:
For yo-pros looking to get out and meet new people in their city, Shattr may come in handy: The app allows users to make group posts and swipe through other posts in their area. Co-founded by two South Shore natives—Brown University computer science grad Ben Fichter and URI alum Zac Carpman—the startup is currently working out of the Northwind Strategies office in Boston (Carpman’s father is a partner there). Shattr has gathered an undisclosed amount of funding from friends and family, but has yet to seek out any outside investors. Carpman told BostInno that they have only been on the App Store for about a week now and have hundreds of users and group posts already.
After downloading the app, Shattr users can create real-time group posts consisting of a picture and a description. Shattr users are also able to “tag” events or locations they are going to in order to better match up with other groups going to the same place, and give users a taste of what is going around them. There is also a page within the app that gives users a few suggestions of popular places nearby. These posts are entered into a pool that other nearby groups can browse through and “Shattr.” Once the ice has been broken, the two groups are entered into a group message. Group posts last eight hours, which allows users to start with a clean slate the next time they go out and keeps the content on Shattr in-the-moment.
The Shattr team is planning on offering a referral program rewarding users who recruit new people on the app. They are also kicking off promotional giveaways—the first being a ticket giveaway for a group of friends to go to see the sold-out Passion Pit concert at Lawn on D in South Boston July 23.
This startup bills itself as: “The next generation of content monetization.” HelloToken was launched this past April by two Harvard alumni—one is an investment professional at Rothenberg Ventures and the other holds a PhD in Applied Physics.
Here’s how it works: Readers can “pay” content producers for articles by answering a quick question upon entry in exchange for access tokens. For marketers, this means leveraging the readership networks of online publications so that they can instantly target and distribute survey questions to otherwise hard-to-reach demographics. According to the company, HelloToken enables publishers/blogs to earn 10 times more per visitor than ads and paywalls through a native, one-click question that serves as a micropayment.
HelloToken launched with roughly 40,000 users. The startup has already attracted several angel investors, including Mike Edelhart, lead partner at the early stage tech fund Social Starts (who contributes $50,000 per deal according to AngelList), Bassin Ventures founder Brian York (who contributes $25,000 per deal) and NYC-based Charles Smith (who contributes $25,000-$50,000 per deal).
Founded by a former employee of New England Biolabs, Prospective Research claims to be the world’s first crowdsourced drug discovery company. The company names one investor: SOSventures, a VC fund that invests from $25,000 (for accelerator level investments) to $10 million, with most investments being from $200,000 to $1 million.
In the company’s own words:
The next billion dollar antibiotic could be in your back yard, and all we need from you is a handful of dirt. We’re solving the problem pharmaceutical companies can’t by de-risking drug discovery by distributing the cost across a massive crowd-sourced user base, and collecting valuable soil samples from unique locations all over the Earth. On the back-end, we’ve developed a rapidly scalable high-throughput drug discovery platform for discovering new antibiotics, that also fits seamlessly into pharmaceutical companies established screening programs. When you buy our MicrobeMiner kit, you’re helping build a global strain collection of organisms, you get to track your profile online, and if the next billion dollar drug comes from your backyard, you’ll share in the reward.
This online marketplace helps people to learn any music instrument by connecting them with instructors for private lessons online and locally. Nabi was co-founded by a UMass alum and another entrepreneur who started the first Bitcoin exchange in Venezuela. The startup raised an undisclosed amount of money in a friends and family round.
According to the company’s website, its mission is to make music education more accessible, lending students more character-building possibilities and opportunities to express themselves, and creating more business for instructors.
The subjects offered via Nabi range from piano and ear training to songwriting. Users can compare music instructors based on their music, bio, and teaching experience through their online profiles. Once they’ve found the perfect match, they can schedule lessons at home, the instructor’s studio or online. The first trial lesson is free for all users.
Based in Cambridge, Buttrfly is a “face-to-face engagement platform” co-founded by Arthur Rogers and Brian Sweatt. Rogers, who is the company’s CEO, received a Master’s from both Harvard and MIT, and previously worked as a tech commercialization consultant at the MIT Media Lab. He was also CEO and cofounder of Cambridge-based DataMatters (acquired in 2014). Sweatt, Buttrfly’s engineer, has his Master’s in computer science from MIT, worked in research at both IBM’s Watson Research Center and the MIT Media Lab, and also served as a software engineer at Paypal and Vistaprint. The Buttrfly app, which launched on Google Play June 16, matches attributes generated by users in close proximity, helping people become more situationally aware and connect to strangers around them who share the same tastes and interests.
From the company:
Buttrfly’s CEO is an alum of MIT Sloan School of Management as well as Harvard University, and its lead developer is a software engineer for DataRobot. The startup lists two open positions listed on AngelList: Back end Developer and iOS Developer.
Launched this past May, Divorceify is a concierge service that provides customized coaching, support and other resources to those overwhelmed by the logistics and emotional shock of the divorce process. The startup was founded by a divorce attorney and Northeastern University School Of Law alum, who also worked for the National Association of Women Judges in Washington, D.C.
Divorceify’s mission is to not only streamline the divorce process through technology, but also to empower and prepare clients for success in their new lives after it’s over.
The company’s coaching is a “flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, encourage, and guide people through the many obstacles they face, no matter where they are in the divorce process in an effort to help them identify their concerns, priorities, and accomplish their goals.” Those goals can include anything from obtaining child custody or receiving alimony. A full list of services can be found on the website.