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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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Dylan: Hey folks, good news! We’re expanding to our third market this year on Monday. Say hello to Cincy Inno, which will cover all things innovation in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can sign up for its newsletter here. Our general manager Kyle Gross will be at Techstars Startup Week in Cincinnati tomorrow, so if you know anyone he should connect with, let him know at With Cincy, this brings American Inno to seven total markets, which all started right here in Boston.

The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Lucy: HubSpot has a new edict: let businesses “help customers however they want whenever they want with whatever they want.”

Dylan: That was a phrase from HubSpot CTO and co-founder Dharmesh Shah when he was revealing the Cambridge company’s “biggest project we have ever undertaken,” a conversational platform for marketing, sales and customer support that unites all conversations with customers — across email, on-site live chat, social media and messaging platforms like Facebook — into one inbox, visible for all teams. Shah made the announcement last month at Inbound.

Called Conversations, the new platform is an upcoming feature for HubSpot’s free customer relationship management software that will integrate a visual chatbot building tool from Motion AI, the most recent of three artificial intelligence startups HubSpot acquired this year.

With a platform now focused on serving everyone from prospects to existing customers, HubSpot is starting to lean heavily into AI as a way to augment work for sales, marketing and customer support teams.

The most prominent way AI will play a role in HubSpot’s future is the visual chatbot builder from Motion AI, which is meant to help businesses respond to prospect and customers online when employees aren’t available. The chatbots can also be used to answer simple questions. Altogether, the goal is to help businesses more easily scale one-on-one communications. Read More: How Artificial Intelligence Will Play a Big Role in HubSpot’s Future

Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves today.

Lucy: MIT computer scientist Regina Barzilay and Harvard historian Sunil Amrith are each among the 24 recipients of a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship. The so-called “Genius grant” comes with a five-year “no strings attached” total stipend of $625,000, which winners are free to use as they decide to. Barzilay works at the convergence of machine learning and natural language processing. Amrith focused his research on migration and its role in shaping present-day social and cultural dynamics. Read more: Harvard and MIT Professors Awarded MacArthur “Genius Grant”

Dylan: Vesper, the Boston-based maker of low-power, durable microphones that raised $15M from Accomplice and Amazon’s Alexa Fund last year, announced it has become the supplier for Synaptics’ two- and four-microphone Amazon Alexa Voice Service development kits. “Since voice capture starts with the microphone, better-performing, more resilient microphones can dramatically improve consumer satisfaction with voice-interface devices,” Saleel Awsare, an executive at Synaptics, said in a statement. “Our collaboration with Vesper allows us to provide a high-performing solution for AVS developers, which in turn, dramatically benefits consumers.”

Lucy: Octo Telematics, a provider of telematics for the auto insurance industry, has announced that it will acquire the usage-based insurance assets of Willis Towers Watson, including its DriveAbility solution and the DriveAbility Marketplace. Octo has an office in Newton.

Dylan: Akamai announced it has reached a deal to acquire Nominum, a California-based provider of DNS and enterprise security solutions for internet service providers. Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close later this quarter, were not disclosed.

Lucy: Four Boston-area startups swept the Cleantech Open Northeast finals, claiming all four slots open for moving on to the national Cleantech Open competition in Los Angeles this January. Finalists are CoolComposite (Waltham), change:Water Labs (Cambridge), Joro (Cambridge) and P2S Technologies (Framingham). As we reported, change:Water Labs was among the winners of the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.

Dylan: Entrepreneurship for All, a Lowell-based network of startup accelerators targeting mid-sized cities, announced plans to expand to more than 50 U.S. cities, an over tenfold increase from the five cities it currently operates in. The accelerator network has reached 60% of its $10M fundraising goal for the expansion thanks to two major donors: former Constant Contact CEO Gail Goodman and Commonwealth Capital founder Michael Fitzgerald. EforAll says its 254 graduating entrepreneurs have created 431 jobs, brought in $9.9M in annual revenues and raised $11.4M in funding.

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

Dylan: Cloudzero just came out of stealth mode with a $5M Series A round led by local venture capital firms Matrix Partners and Underscore.VC to build out its site reliability management platform for cloud computing, and open its Boston headquarters. The company was co-founded by Erik Peterson, who was previously director of technology strategy at Veracode, and Matt Manger, who was most recently director of services at Toast and worked at Veracode before that. In the company’s announcement, it said that Rapid7 CEO Corey Thomas, former Veracode CEO Bob Brennan, Cengage CIO Jim Chilton, and former Unidesk CEO Don Bulens are joining its advisory board. Tim Barrows from Matrix Partners and Michael Skok from Underscore will join the company’s board of directors.

Lucy: Vestmark, which provides a wealth management platform to financial institutions, raised $11.6M in an equity offering, according to a new Form D.

Dylan: SidelineSwap, a Boston-based online sports gear marketplace, has raised a $2M seed extension funding round backed by former Etsy CEO Maria Thomas. Other investors include Global Founders Capital, Haystack PartnersFullstack Sports Ventures and The Players’ Impact, the latter of which is a group of Olympians and professional athletes. SidelineSwap says it has a community of more than 150,000 athletes, with top sellers earning over $100,000 annually and buyers saving an average of 50 percent on each purchase. This brings the startup’s total funding to $4M.

Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Dylan: Sentenai, a data engineering automation platform, has hired Kyle Seaman to work on products and partnerships. Seaman was previously director of farm technology at Freight Farms.

In The Community

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

Lucy: On October 19, over 1,500 Boston techies will get out of the office and into the community to volunteer in local nonprofits for Tech Gives Back, an initiative of Silicon Valley Bank and TUGG. A pre-party is scheduled for the day before at Brooklyn Boulders, and you can get there by taking advantage of discounted rides from Uber. More info here.

From Our Partners

Seismic: In 2002, the lives of Braintree brothers Jack and Craig Shadduck would change forever. At age 13, Jack suddenly fell ill to transverse myelitis, a rare immune disorder. Jack was left paralyzed from the neck down.

This is the story of Craig’s devotion to his older brother in the years since, and how each community that he is a part of can’t help but become inspired to do their part to help –his friends and family, the town of Braintree and the company he now works for SeismicRead more: Brother’s Bond Inspires Local Company, Community

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Meet The Authors

Dylan Martin

Lucia Maffei

Kyle Gross

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