Since 2013, a new robotics startup founded and led by former iRobot CTO Tom Wagner has been shrouded in secrecy. But while the company’s website only displays a logo, there have been a number of state and federal filings and resumes that shed light on a company that has now been in “stealth mode” for four years.
Wagner’s company goes by the name of Berkshire Grey, and it’s not the only stealthy startup in the Boston area we have been able to get details on. Using government documents, LinkedIn profiles, resumes, websites, news stories and sometimes statements from the founders themselves, BostInno has uncovered information on 11 local startups that are currently in stealth mode and should be on your radar for next year.
These startups are working on a wide range of technologies, from self-driving cars and underwater robots to software that aims to empower retail stores and TV networks.
Is there a stealthy startup you think we should be aware of? Send news tips with supporting links and documents to email@example.com.
Berkshire Grey is a secretive robotics startup founded and led by former iRobot CTO Tom Wagner. The startup has been under the radar since it was started in 2013, but federal and state filings, resumes and LinkedIn profiles give some clues as to what Berkshire is up to. According to the resume of Kevin Ahearn, Berkshire’s vice president of business development, the company is working on artificial intelligence-based robotic and automated material handling systems. The company raised a $3 million seed round and counts West Coast venture capital firm Khosla Ventures as one of its early investors, according to PitchBook data. The company has filed a number of patents for systems that pick and sort objects, among other things.
Censio is a startup operating at the intersection of healthcare and cybersecurity, according to Keith Figlioli, a venture partner at Long River Ventures who is listed on the company’s Form D filing for a $2 million equity round from September. The company’s CEO is Ed Gaudet, formerly the CMO at iBoss Cybersecurity. The startup is not to be confused with Boston-based TrueMotion, whose former name was Censio.
Compt is a software startup founded by former Jana CFO Amy Spurling that focuses on helping companies attract and retain talent. “Free beer and ping-pong are no longer enough to attract and retain top talent in an evolving, and competitive workforce. Compt offers the solution,” Spurling told BostInno. Beyond Jana, Spurling’s other previous roles include COO at Bedrock Data, CFO at Backupify and CFO at EXOS.
Data Plus Math
Data Plus Math is working on an adtech software platform code-named “Thor” that aims to help companies more effectively measure the impact of video on sales of a product. The startup was founded by John Hoctor and Matthew Emans, who previously founded and sold a startup called Integral Reach to the company now known as TiVo. According to an October story in Variety, 40 TV ad-sales executives from ABC, AMC and other networks are considering Data Plus Math’s product for a potential 2018 activation. The startup raised a $3 million seed round last year.
Domovi is a startup founded by former Datto hardware engineer Leanne Cushing that promises to bring “home appliances into the modern day,” according to Cushing’s LinkedIn page. The company’s website adds that it will make “chores simple, small and connected.”
Forge.AI is an artificial intelligence startup founded by former Skyhook Wireless CEO Jim Crowley, Adelphic co-founder Jennifer Lum and former MITRE senior principal AI engineer Jack Crowley. The startup is creating a system that can turn unstructured data “into rich, usable information for intelligent machines.” Crowley wrote a guest post for BostInno in May on why the future of artificial intelligence will be fueled by unstructured data.
Michael Sheeley’s New Startup
Michael Sheeley, co-founder of Runkeeper, is working on a direct-to-consumer healthcare company with former Autotegrity CMO and TripAdvisor alum Steve McAveeney. In a message to BostInno, Sheeley described the startup as “a personalized, caring, and sympathetic competitor to WebMD.” Sheeley was most recently the CEO and founder of Chef Nightly, a meal delivery startup that shut down in 2016.
NextDroid is working on driverless cars and undersea robotics, according to the startup’s AngelList page, but the startup has been quiet otherwise. The startup’s offices are split between Boston and Pittsburgh, with “deep ties to MIT and Carnegie Mellon.” Gizmodo reported in June that an unidentified self-driving car spotted in Pittsburgh potentially belonged to NextDroid. The company’s CEO is Sam Tolkoff, who previously held executive leadership positions at NGxBIO and OptaSense.
Project HomeTap says it provides “home equity partnership” that allows homeowners “to easily sell a portion of their house without selling their home.” The startup’s founders are Jeff Glass, former Skyhook Wireless CEO and former managing director at Bain Capital Ventures; Andrew Vassallo, former Spogo co-founder and CEO; Maxwell Campion, former BriefMe CEO and founder; and Charlie Vrettos, former Bow & Arrow Labs CTO. Glass told BostInno in an email that the startup has been seed funded by his investment firm, Starting Five Partners. Glass added the startup’s concept aims to change the financial options for homeowners based on enhanced data and analytics and a consumer-friendly approach. A formal announcement is likely to happen in the first quarter of 2018.
Tidelift is a General Catalyst-backed startup that has raised $15 million in capital and aims to “make open source software work better for developers and users,” according to its website. The company’s CEO and co-founder is Donald Fischer, who was most recently a venture partner at General Catalyst. Tidelift’s other co-founders include Havoc Pennington, a former senior software architect at Continuum Analytics; Jeremy Katz, a former staff software engineer at Google; and Luis Villa, a former Wikimedia Foundation employee. The company recently hired Andrew Nesbitt and Ben Nickolls, the creators of open source project database Libraries.io.
Wondermile is a retail tech startup founded by Fashion Project founder Anna Palmer and former Catalant Chief Experience Officer Brian Kalma. The startup’s website says it will help you find items in stores near you, buy across multiple stores with one checkout and keep an eye out for discounts and new products. It says it can also deliver items for you to try on at home. Palmer serves on the investment team for XFactor Ventures, a seed fund run by Flybridge Capital focused on startups founded by women.