Client Spotlight

We invite you to get to know our clients better. Click on any of the names below to read their stories, or watch one of our feature client videos.
Featured Client Videos

We talked to founder Ananth Kasturiraman to learn more about Skillist in October 2018…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

Did you know that nearly 120M Americans over the age of 25 have at least a high school diploma but don’t have a four-year college degree? At the same time, there are millions of jobs that are best-suited for this population but go unfilled each year. This is a HUGE labor market mismatch, and it stems from a broken job application process.

For far too long, employers have relied on resumes and pedigrees (like a college degree) as proxies for skill which has put a strain on both businesses looking for the right talent and candidates looking for stable, career-advancing opportunities.

Skillist is on a mission to solve these problems by building a fairer, more effective job application platform.

How did your company get started?

Ananth, who started his career in consulting and nonprofit strategy, moved to Boston from sunny California to pursue his MBA with the longer-term vision of working in higher education. During his first year in school, he and some classmates decided to submit an idea for a community college career/advisory portalthe kernel of what would eventually become Skillistto the HBS New Venture Competition. Their idea made it to the competition finals and received some unexpected attention. Caroline, a Northeast native, had just finished a Master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she focused her studies on post-secondary success for underserved communities. A good friend (who ended up becoming Skillist’s first hire!) sent her a link to Ananth’s business plan and said “Hey Caroline – isn’t this exactly what you’re passionate about?”. Caroline reached out to Ananth, igniting the idea to build a company around this issue that inspired them both, and the rest is history!

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

With our team’s combined experiences, we have a deep understanding of both sides of the marketplace: jobseekers and employers. The co-founders thoughtfully built a team with hands-on experience in career advancement, higher education, corporate talent management, human-centered design, and more to make sure Skillist was built to be effective and have lasting impact. We also keep our ears close to the ground to make sure that our product continues to address the painpoints that jobseekers and employers have been feeling for years.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

  1. ABL (Always Be Learning): Be open to words of wisdom, expertise or feedback from the people in your company’s sphere of influence (investors, advisors, family or friends, the startup ecosystem as whole).

  2. Great teams are intentional: The hiring process can seem daunting when you’re starting a brand-new business but, if you take the time to find the right people to go on the journey with you, it’ll accelerate your performance and enrich your experience more than you know.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

As a distributed team, we rely heavily on a number of collaboration and documentation tools to keep us seamlessly connected and organized. And, as you may have gathered from the question above, we have an outstanding team of advisors who we reach out to regularly for feedback and advice on our progress.

We talked to founder Laura Carpenter to learn more about Abridge News in September 2018…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

Abridge News gets people out of their news echo chambers by making it easy to engage with a balanced set of opinions on important news stories. Through a simple, engaging interface, a user can quickly understand and react to key arguments made on different sides of a debate. Our mission is to increase empathy and critical thinking in the world by promoting diverse perspectives.

How did your company get started?

Following the 2016 election, it felt as though the entire country became aware of some fundamental flaws in the way we engage one another when it comes to current events. Our team decided to build Abridge News because we wanted to connect people, not divide them. We launched www.AbridgeNews.com in October 2017 after a summer of testing and refining our concept in the Harvard Innovation Lab. Our iOS app launches in a month!

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

Our team believes that the issues facing traditional media can’t be solved with traditional media backgrounds. We are a tech-heavy team. Both of our co-founders are engineers and our editor is a former teacher. We hustle like crazy and are deeply connected with our company’s mission.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Early on, I learned the importance of getting concepts in front of our users as soon as possible. Our users provide us with insights that we would have never gleaned on our own.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

We love Shoobx! We also use Algolia, Firebase, Mailchimp, Hootsuite, Videoshop, Wordswag and Pixabay.

We talked to founder Daniel Faber to learn more about Orbit Fab in August 2018…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

Orbit Fab is building gas stations in space. Orbit Fab envisions a thriving in-space market for products and services that support both existing space businesses (communications and Earth observation) and new industries like space tourism, manufacturing, and mining. The first step is achieving ubiquitous availability of satellite propellant in Earth Orbit, expanding the operational potential of new and existing space assets and providing unprecedented business model flexibility for satellite owners. The future for satellites is no longer restricted to the fuel they are launched with. It is about getting the fuel and other materials they need, where and when they need it, to accomplish things never thought possible.

How did your company get started?

Founding CEO Daniel Faber previously led Deep Space Industries (DSI), pursuing a vision to mine asteroids. Co-founder Jeremy Schiel briefly joined DSI in 2017 before the pair teamed up to build a business that will execute the “next steps” in a product chain they believe will make asteroid mining a reality.

The cost of launching materials into space (millions of dollars per ton) means there is more value in leaving asteroid materials in space than bringing them down to Earth! The first products are expected to be fuel used by satellites. Faber and Schiel was to start supplying and trading propellants in Earth orbit. While the materials are currently all being launch from Earth, it is creating an active demand for asteroid materials.

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

Orbit Fab was founded in 2018 by Daniel Faber, an industry veteran and former CEO of asteroid-mining company Deep Space Industries, and Jeremy Schiel who brings international and new business development experience from the automotive industry. At Orbit Fab, they lead a global team of 15 experts in space systems, propulsion, logistics, simulation, and AI.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

This is Daniel’s 6th startup, across 4 continents. “It’s not complicated. Exceed your customers’ expectations and don’t run out of cash. Unfortunately, achieve both of those things together is not always easy!

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

We rely on our people above all else – their experience and initiative. We foster stakeholders and supporters across the industry, especially our customers. And of course we depend on our suppliers to be efficient and seamless, like Shoobx!

We talked to founder Justin Knapp to learn more about SpaceTogether in July 2018…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?
We found that most people that rent or own a commercial space were only in their buildings for 40% or less of the time, but paid for their space 24 hours a day. By connecting these owners and lessees with other business owners that need a building but don’t need it full time, we are helping to maximize the output of the commercial spaces that businesses spend so much money to operate.

How did your company get started?

My wife and I have a non-profit organization, and when we were looking for a new building, I was shocked that there wasn’t a platform to find commercial space to use as needed. Once we moved into our first building, I realized that I was paying for a space that I didn’t use all that much and was again shocked to find that there was no way for me to list the space I was paying thousands of dollars a month for. After doing a study into business owners with similar spaces, we found that 85% of those people were looking for the same type of service, so we created SpaceTogether.

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

The bedrock our culture at SpaceTogether is simple, we help people. So we have found very talented early hires that have the same passion to empower small businesses and non-profits. Every one of our employees has some experience where they, a friend, or a family member ran into a problem with commercial real estate where a platform like ours would have solved the issue.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

You will have huge days where you feel like you are on top of the world, along with really bad days where you wonder if this company is really going to do the things you planned for it to do. We’ve learned to take the good with the bad and learn from both. I would also say the investors and advisors that you surround yourself with could not be more important. We’ve always said that we’re looking for sparring partners that will punch you in the nose when you need it, and shock absorbers that are there in the tough or confusing times.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

We’ve been really fortunate to learn from the successes and mistakes of founders before us. Our local community has been extremely helpful through organizations like Peak Startup (https://peakstartup.org). We’ve also learned so much from books written by founders, like “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz, “Lost and Founder” by Rand Fishkin, and “Startupland” by Mikkel Svane.

We talked to founder William Kowalski to learn more about Atomos Nuclear and Space in June 2018…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?
Atomos Nuclear and Space is building a sustainable, scalable in-space transportation network enabled by our commercial nuclear power and propulsion systems. Targeting businesses and agencies launching new space assets, Atomos is developing spacecraft purpose-built to autonomously rendezvous with and move other objects in space. Our spacecraft dock with customer payloads in low orbits and deliver them to their final destinations in higher Earth-orbits and beyond. Leveraging nuclear fission systems is what sets Atomos apart from competitors. Extended operational lifetimes, expanded power budgets, and faster transfer times are just a few of the benefits made possible by our nuclear technologies.

How did your company get started?

Atomos has been under development as an idea since 2013, but when Vanessa Clark (co-founder, CEO, and space nuclear engineer) was approached by investors in 2017, it quickly became more than that. William Kowalski (co-founder, CFO) and Brandon Seifert (co-founder, CMO) joined the team shortly thereafter, and Atomos transitioned from an after-hours project into an accelerator-galvanized startup. Vanessa realized the commercial opportunities for safe, scalable nuclear technologies in space as she researched the topic for the German Space Agency in 2013, and became determined to bring her ideas to market. Over several years, she tracked the technology, community, players, and regulatory scene, and in 2017, interests aligned and Vanessa formally founded Atomos with co-founders William and Brandon.

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

We love space exploration with a passion and believe that the economic and social value space offers Earth is astronomical (please forgive the pun). We are fully committed to building a business that enables and enhances other space-based businesses. Our founding team has a strong background in long-term, high-value projects in aerospace and other high-tech markets, as well as space startups. Vanessa Clark managed over $400M in subcontracts, overseeing the development and testing campaign of the propulsion systems for Lockheed Martin’s Orion spacecraft and spent years designing nuclear spacecraft for the German Space Agency and working in advanced concepts at Airbus. William Kowalski has financial and corporate governance experience and worked on cash flow planning, tax and risk mitigation, and return optimization for a wealth management team. Brandon Seifert has experience from time spent in previous space and tech startups in scaling and team building, commercial and government business development, and developing/executing high-tech sales and marketing strategies. We’re a well-balanced team of aerospace and space nuclear, finance and policy, and operations and sales/marketing, and we’re building a solid team around us that adds even more to the mix.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

There is no guidebook, no lighted pathway, no set of steps you can and must follow to find your way. Having such a large, open space in which to build your business is exciting, but can also be a bit intimidating. Having solid teammates and advisors with experience creating something from nothing is invaluable, and any tools you can pick up along the way to enhance your knowledge and improve your ability to confidently build your business will help you immensely.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

First and foremost, our friends, mentors and partners. No one builds a company alone. But resources that help us have more valuable relationships with these people, like Shoobx, have become a necessity to us, providing us with strategic and tactical insights, knowledge on complex operations, and reliable ways to save a lot of time with key logistical activities.

We talked to founder Michael Atkinson to learn more about Orderscape in May 2018…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?
We are a Silicon Valley-based voice technology software company. Our Conversational Commerce Platform will voice-enable every e-commerce transaction in the restaurant sector while providing the consumer with a concierge-like experience. Voice search is challenging and without good voice search conversational commerce will have slow adoption. So, we solved the commerce part first (NP, shopping cart, order processing and payments). Next is our suggestive selling engine that will make ordering meals from restaurants (any catalog really) far easier.

How did your company get started?

Well, we’re serial entrepreneurs and technologists with decades of domain experience in the $800 billion restaurant industry. I view bots (chatbots and voicebots) as being the fourth pillar to food ordering (telephone, web, and mobile being the first three) thereby creating a new sales (commerce) and engagement channel for restaurants. Bot ordering creates new efficiencies and opportunities for operators so we started Orderscape to address this initially in foodservice.

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

We have the technical chops to develop the technology and the knowledge of the industry with deep connections to leadership and key influencers to adopt the tech. Also, we’ve solved suggestive selling and data migration before. We’re just applying our passion and experience to a new problem that is global.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Restaurant operators are a tough sell, the lead-times and sales cycles are long and voice technology is exceedingly complex. Raising capital for this has been very challenging despite our experience and market opportunity—we are still in the early days of conversational commerce. Patience and focus are our two mantras!

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

From a technical perspective, we have many requirements that integrate with our technology stack. We also have a crazy smart advisory board and because we are a distributed team, we use Slack, zoom.us, online banking, Dropbox, Shoobx, Docsend, Evernote, HubSpot, and AWS, among other database and server technology. We don’t print anything so all our files are digital.

We talked to founder Adero Davis to learn more about FairFare in April 2018…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?
We are solving the problem of there being no democracy in the ride share space. FairFare allows riders to choose the ride that’s best for them and alleviates the need to have multiple ride share apps on their phones. Compare.Choose.Book.Ride All within 3 steps.

How did your company get started?

As New Yorkers there seems to be a new ride share company popping up monthly, but who wants to download 9 similar apps?! No one. So FairFare was borne out of frustration because we were constantly toggling between apps and said there needs to be one place where i could compare and book. There was nothing in the market in 2015 that we were aware of so we said let’s build it.

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

We are creative and probably overly optimistic and a bit naive, which we think are positive qualities when you’re trying to change things and you’re a David up against some Goliaths. Our motto in addressing the issue is that behind all of the grandeur and huge dollar signs lies another human being like me, so if they could do it why not us? Additionally, we are life long New Yorkers who have a nuanced understanding of the frustrations of traveling around the city and truly believe we can make it better for the rider.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

When you ask for money you get advice, and when you ask for advice you get money. Quite helpful tip to know when you’re in the throes of fundraising 🙂

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

Shoobx keeps the legal part organized and easy; SendGrid is a great resource for our email marketing campaigns. We also use guerrilla marketing tactics, for example in-person flyers.

We talked to founder Stacie Whisonant to learn more about PYT Funds in March 2018…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?
We are closing the funding gaps in higher education using alternative and predictive data.

PYT, Pay Your Tuition, is helping families obtain access to capital to pay higher education costs. We focus on the last-mile loan that is needed to ensure the student will cross the finish line and obtain a degree. PYT’s technology-enabled platform captures alternative data points and allows friends and families to chip in by vouching for the student and supporting the student with small gifts. Through the process of assessing alternative data with social vouching and cash, we are able to work with the lender to leverage a lender loan approval. The cash raised in the process will ultimately reduce the student’s debt balance.

How did your company get started?

After banking for over 10 years, I wanted to solve a real financial problem, and I started to work on student loan debt.  Low and behold there was a community of students that wanted access to debt to finish college and the Pay Your Tuition platform was born.

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

We all have over 7 years of technology and banking experience.  We worked in the space long enough to know how we could use the traditional platforms to disrupt higher education financing.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Do not talk about your solution, keep your head down and work, only the executors will win.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

Family and friends that have skills to fill in the holes until I could scale.

We talked to founder Jack Huntress to learn more about HomeBinder in February 2018…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

HomeBinder is working to become the “hub of the home.” Homes are complicated things and today’s owners are a mix of people either too busy to maintain their home or a generation of buyers that aren’t interested in doing home maintenance. HomeBinder is positioning to be at the center of home management and record keeping so that homeowners (and future buyers) get the help and guidance they need to be successful with their largest investment.

How did your company get started?

When I went to buy the home I live in now, the previous owners had left out a stack of absolutely everything on the kitchen table down to paint colors by room. This was atypical of the homes we looked at and I was working in the residential data market at the time. I knew that if a company could position themselves to be at the center of home organization and maintenance, this would help not only current buyers but future owners as well. A few years before, my partner and I sold a previous SaaS business so I partially “got the band back together” and we dove in.

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

We feel that a significant impediment to this goal is the homeowner actually doing the work both on their home and keeping their ‘binder’ updated. As such, from day one we’ve built our plan, model, and platform so that although the homeowner can do the work, we don’t rely on them but rather rely on the professionals surrounding them to do most of the work. We believe one our strengths is that we fully admit and acknowledge how people actually operate, as opposed to how we think they “should” operate.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Throughout the last 20 years of my professional career I’ve shied away from being a manager of people. I took technician, sales, product, business dev, and corporate roles to avoid having to manage people. With HomeBinder, I’ve learned that to be successful, my most important duty is the people who work for the business. At the end of the day any company is a collection of people. Some companies are toxic, some get little from their employees, some are complacent, some are arrogant, and the tone and culture gets set at the top. I want the people on my team to feel like they matter and that they are doing something meaningful with their careers and lives (this includes learning/evolving/growing as well as a mission that can impact society). If we do that right, we will be able to handle the challenges of growing a business because we’ll all row in the same direction and have the alignment to beat the obstacles (yes, including pay cuts, snafus and all).

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

The most precious resource is capital and we’ve raised very little to get to where we are today. As such it is super important to be disciplined around it. Second, I rely on people, both team members and great people like Joe Caruso who have become invaluable to help me get clarity when I need it most. Third, we rely on a host of mission critical services including Heroku, Stripe, AWS, Intercom, Grasshopper, Salesforce, NewRelic, Slack, Xero, Gusto and of course Shoobx! (that’s probably less than half of all the 3rd party resources we use). When you step back and really put what you can do today in context of managing and running a business as compared to 20 years ago, you see how much leverage technology gives you per hour/per person. Because we started before Shoobx was around we did it the “ol’ fashioned way” and then had to migrate into the platform and clean up some rough edges in the process. I can fully say that it was an area where I didn’t feel the spreadsheets and scanned folders of docs were serving us well and am much more confident in that part of the business now.

In January of 2018 we caught up with founder Samuel Davis to learn more about Amplified

amplified logo with link to website

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?
The patent system was designed to promote innovation and underpinned much of the progress of the industrial revolution. That is, unfortunately, no longer the case. Whether you work at a big corporation, law firm, or as an entrepreneur, patents are a pain to work with. The work is time-consuming and subjective. Information and costs are opaque. That puts the brakes on innovation and creates an uneven playing field which is bad for society as a whole.
How did your company get started?
My co-founder and I spent years watching the problems in the patent system grow to a breaking point. This is an industry driven by human labor that can’t scale supply fast enough to meet demand. The result is longer wait times, lower quality, and more opportunities to game the system. The average wait time for a first response from the patent office is over 16 months and, despite an average cost of $20,000 to file a patent, 59% of applications fail. We realized pretty early on that advances in artificial intelligence—particularly deep learning—represented a unique opportunity, if applied correctly, to fix a systemic problem.

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?
We are a pretty unique combination of skills in a single team. I’ve developed and sold new products to enterprise customers in the industry and my co-founder’s PhD research was specifically focused on understanding patents and innovation through machine learning. Deep learning and much of the cutting-edge research in artificial intelligence is still primarily on test datasets, so putting that into production with clear product-market fit is no easy task.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Two lessons: 1) Be patient, stay focused. 2) Trust your gut, then measure everything.
There is a lot of pressure to move quickly in a startup environment and when you are just beginning everything seems like an opportunity that you can’t afford to miss. We learned the importance of saying no and fully committing to a course of action before reviewing and adjusting. There’s a fine line between moving quickly and getting meaningful results from experiments.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?
Shoobx of course! Truly though we make heavy use of tools that streamline operations. Most of our work is R&D intensive so avoiding distractions and keeping overhead low helps us deploy capital more efficiently.

We talked to founder Andy Shallcross to learn more about Ignis Kinetics in December 2017…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

Ignis Kinetics is developing a smart gun for use by law enforcement, commercial security, and civilians in order to help solve our country’s greatest public safety problem: fatalities from the unauthorized discharge of firearms.

One in three American households owns a firearm. The main problem we collectively have as a country is determining when and how to secure our firearms. Because of this, every day 19 or more children are killed or injured from the unauthorized discharge of a firearm. Furthermore, 82% of all youth suicides occur with a firearm not owned by the the victim. These equate to over 20,000 deaths and injuries every single year. And finally, nearly 10% of all officer-involved fatalities since the early 1990’s are the result of an officer’s weapon being used against them. This is commonly referred to as a “gun grab.”

Ignis Kinetics is working to help solve this national crisis, in part, by developing, manufacturing, and marketing a state-of-the-art 9mm smart gun that is built to Federal operational standards for use by US Law Enforcement and commercial security. Following the successful commercialization of those primary markets, we intend on selling directly to US civilians in order to give Americans the choice to a secure and smart personal defense solution.

How did your company get started?

I grew up in a household that intentionally did not own any firearms because of the overwhelming statistics of the unauthorized use of firearms in the home. Following the tragic events of Sandy Hook, I started to revisit this widespread problem we have as a country.

After thinking on it over the course of several years, and realizing that traditional firearm manufacturers were not making any concerted effort to solve the problem, I reached out to a friend who has a background in nuclear engineering and shared my observations. I asked the question: If you could design the ultimate smart gun—how would it work? The answer was the genesis of Ignis Kinetics.

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

In three words: timing, territory and talent.

Our timing is unique for several reasons. Last year, the Department of Justice, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, released their baseline requirements for US law enforcement agencies use of smart guns. While we were already well into our initial design and IP work at that time, the announcement gave us an additional reason to believe that we are on the right path.

Our territory is initially focused solely on law enforcement agencies and commercial security companies. This approach enables us to eventually commercialize our technology for the civilian market, and ultimately help solve this national problem.

Our talent consists of a growing team of nuclear, mechanical, and electrical engineers as we design our prototype. We have also recruited some of the brightest law enforcement and public safety professionals in the country to help guide our efforts as we move through our prototyping process, and eventually achieve mass production.

And unlike traditional firearm manufacturers, we are not restrained from attempting to commercialize this new technology by 20th century business ethos, politics, or shareholders.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Align yourself with people with relevant backgrounds, who share your vision for the future, and tune out everyone else.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

Our diverse team is our primary resource. As we mature, we’ll be relying on investors who share our vision. And of course—Shoobx!

In November of 2017 we talked to Main Street Equity

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

Main Street Equity is a funding portal that helps emerging growth and lower middle market companies in the transportation and logistics industry secure capital to grow their business.

The problem for many companies poised to reach the next level of growth is access to capital. Profitable, growing quickly with $10–50 million in sales, these companies find themselves in a “no man’s land.” On one side they’ve maxed out their bank lines, on the other they need too small amount of capital ($5–10 million) to attract private equity. And venture capital is out of the question for non-tech, later stage companies.

The solution Main Street Equity brings is a new pool of capital from strategic corporate investors in the transportation and logistics industry who will make a minority investment. The benefit to a larger industry player is that an investment is far less risky than an outright acquisition. They can get to know the management, decide over time if there is a cultural fit, all the while harvesting knowhow of the smaller, nimble company. Later—after knowing the company, building trust with management, and seeing if there is a culture fit—they can acquire the company.

How did your company get started?

We consulted for a client who was considering building a crowdfunding platform in the commercial real estate space. This experience opened our eyes to the fact no one is harnessing the crowdfunding model and new regulations to raise money for established companies outside of tech and Silicon Valley—99.7% of the world. We met a friend who heads a $1 billion paper company who introduced us to an investment bank specializing in transportation and logistics. They reconfirmed with 35 years of experience that there is a swath of companies in this industry who are trapped in no man’s land without a source of capital to fuel their growth. They offered to introduce us to both potential corporate strategic investors and companies needing capital.

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

We have a history of disrupting new, emerging markets underserved by existing providers. We have a cross-section of skill sets that have taken companies from raw startup to going public: investment banking in the transportation and logistics industry; legal guidance for startups through IPO and M&A; creation of a bible for small businesses with a former publisher and editorial team at Inc. Magazine; raising over $400 million on crowdfunding platforms as a leading licensed broker dealer for Reg D financings on crowdfunding platforms.

We also have strong business-to-business media and advertising experience. That’s important because the way we reach corporate investors and capital raisers is through the highly specialized and concentrated trade media of the transportation and logistics industry. For the first time under new FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) regulations, issuers (raising capital) are allowed to advertise in the media for accredited investors.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

We need to take the friction, complexity, time, and expense out of the traditional process of preparing a private placement to raise capital, as well as provide a platform for communication after the raise between investors and capital raising companies.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

We have a diverse and experienced team as mentioned above, plus we rely on new applications of technology in fundraising, legal services, and marketing to lower costs increase efficiency and shorten time.

We chatted with the team at FreeWill in October 2017…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

In the next 20 years, there will be $35 trillion inherited in the United States as the large and wealthy “Baby Boomer” generation ages. This is the largest wealth transfer in human history, and is likely the largest opportunity for philanthropy ever.

But directing where that money goes is too hard—people find estate planning scary, complicated, and expensive; fewer than 30% of Americans have up-to-date estate plans.

FreeWill provides warm, intuitive, and free tools to help people make legal wills. These tools also make it easier than ever to leave a portion to nonprofit organizations. To date, people have committed $30 million to charities through FreeWill.

How did your company get started?

FreeWill was co-founded by four graduate students at Stanford University, who saw an opportunity to help millions of people with a difficult problem, while raising up to $1 trillion for the world’s most important causes.

Why is your team well-positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

Our team is fortunate to be diverse in many ways. Jennifer Xia, Freewill’s CFO & CPO, is a previous startup cofounder and did significant research in behavioral economics at Harvard University. Our CEO, Patrick Schmitt, was the Head of Innovation at Change.org and has previously helped to scale high-impact startups. Helen Zou, VP of Partnerships, worked at CapitalOne to simplify complicated financial decisions and tasks. And Alexander Leishman, our CTO, is a web security expert, helping to keep all of our data safe and protected.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

By far, the biggest lesson we’ve learned is to hired for aptitude and values alignment over experience. We’ve watched people step into completely new rules and be wildly successful in a short time.

We’ve codified this into the three attributes we look for in new hires: Aptitude, tenacity, and kindness. If someone has all three, they’ll likely be an outstanding part of FreeWill.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

The Stanford community has been incredibly generous and wonderful to us. Our peers have introduced us to nonprofit organizations they know, professors have lent their expertise, and we were fortunate to be an award winner at the BASES competition.

The Center for Social Innovation at Stanford has been particularly helpful with their candid advice on starting a successful social venture.

Finally, working with two legaltech companies, Atrium LTS and Shoobx, to help manage our corporate legal services has saved the company precious time and provided expertise we never would have uncovered on our own. It’s been great learning from their journeys in scaling incredibly high-quality tech-based legal solutions.

In September of 2017 we talked to Jong Lee to learn more about Day Zero Disgnostics

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

Day Zero Diagnostics is out to change the way infectious diseases are diagnosed and treated. Over the last two decades, there has been a steep rise in the number of pathogens that are resistant to various classes of antibiotics. The traditional strategy of using powerful, broad spectrum antibiotics to “carpet bomb” an infection is becoming less and less effective and fosters even more resistance. Day Zero Diagnostics uses whole genome sequencing, a large proprietary database, and machine learning to diagnose an infection’s antibiotic resistance profile in hours rather than the current standard of 2-5 days: a life-saving difference when the risk of mortality is increasing 8% per hour. We provide physicians with the information they need to treat an infection with a targeted antibiotic on the first day they are admitted at the hospital—Day Zero.

How did your company get started?

Day Zero Diagnostics was started out of the experience of one of our cofounders as an infectious disease specialist at Mass General Hospital. Diagnostics were slow and the results not always informative, leaving him frustrated as a physician. In the meantime, a PhD researcher in his lab (another cofounder) was using next generation sequencing as a core tool in her work in understanding the microbiome. Together, they recruited two friends with expertise in computational genomics and machine learning to develop the concept for how DNA sequencing could be used to revolutionize infectious disease diagnostics. DZD was born out of that collaboration; I joined the group to help shape the concept into a company. DZD incorporated in 2016 and used Shoobx to raise our initial convertible note financing.

Why is your team well positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

Our founding team combines a complementary set of expertise that is difficult to find, spanning the range of skill sets we need to execute against this type of hard science opportunity. We combine clinical expertise in infectious diseases, deep experience in bacterial sequencing and wet lab science, a strong understanding of genomics, and world-class computational capabilities in one organization. Finding world-class expertise in each of these areas can be difficult on its own, but getting the opportunity to work with a team that combines all of these skills is truly rare. My job as a business strategist and startup executive is to make sure those skills gets marshalled into a commercial program that can win with customers.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

One of the core things I have learned in the startup arena is the importance of believing in the mission of the company and the need that it will fill. All early stage companies have moments of crisis, doubt and loneliness that makes the grass on the other side look not just greener, but positively vibrant. Companies that make it have a team that is able to hold steadfast during those periods, with an unwavering belief in the need to solve the problem and a long term vision that can sustain them past those fluctuations. Developing the patience, sensibilities, and vision to sustain the team over time makes all the difference. Because it’s not a sprint, it’s a… you know the rest.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

As a startup, we are constantly looking for things that can help us today, but that have the ability to scale as we grow into the next phase. Examples of that include ShooBx, of course, which has saved us thousands of dollars and provided us with a good dose of legal education. But I would also include services like Gusto, Google and Quickbooks that offer high value and have an ability to expand and adapt as our needs change. Supportive incubator / accelerator environments like the Harvard iLab & Life Lab, MassChallenge, and MedTech Innovators have also made it possible to access resources that would typically have been out of reach.

In July of 2017 we asked co-founder David Wald to tell us more about Aclaimant

Tell us about your company.

Aclaimant is an insurance technology company that started in 2013. Today, Aclaimant provides an Automated Risk Mitigation platform, designed to help companies seamlessly and efficiently work through every phase of the incident management process. As of today, we have raised two rounds of venture capital, and employ 15 people across the United States.

What problem are you trying to solve?

At our core we have a single focus—trying to help companies become better risks.

We’ve found that when something goes wrong in the workplace (injury, accident, illness), employers and employees don’t know what to do. As a result, workplace incidents and claims are mishandled, and subsequent insurance rates that employers pay get out of control.

We feel the world of enterprise risk management is often underserved or misunderstood, especially for the small to medium size business. The ability to empower every organization to use technology to facilitate and automate the workflow process “before, during, and after” any type of incident (injury, accident, illness) is the first step in reducing the life cycle and escalation level of every claim.

How did your company get started?

Our company got started in large part because of “lessons learned” from an investment in a captive insurance company that underwrote workers compensation for the staffing industry. Our personal experience with hundreds of employers through thousands of claims gave us the real-life insight that there is a significant need to help employers make smarter, faster, and better decisions through any workplace claims process. This is the only way to help them reduce insurance related cost and improve outcomes both for their margins and for the employees. Every workplace incident triggers a very fragmented and disjointed information supply chain, one that we are working to synchronize.

Why is your team well positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

We have assembled a unique team of subject matter experts in the field of insurance, risk management, workplace safety, and technology to design a better, faster, and smarter system to mobilize resources and people and digitize administrative and compliance requirements. Our unique collective experience as a team includes every facet of the insurance industry including policyholder, broker, agent, and carrier, and includes a team with experience building and scaling technology companies. This combination of talented team members, great clients, incredible investors, and advisors has positioned us to disrupt this industry from the inside out and build a company that leaves a lasting mark in the insure-tech landscape.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

The biggest lesson we’ve learned is that understanding the difference between the expected outcome and the actual outcome will result in either disappointment or success. We prefer success. Translation – Managing expectations is critical to growing a business for everyone – doing it effectively is the only way to succeed.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

Employing a talented, innovative, creative, and motivated team of individuals whose mission is to make a difference instead of trying to be different. We couldn’t do anything without the wonderful employees, partners, customers, and investors who have been critical in our success—they are the reason we have been able to grow our business. That’s why we try to pay it forward; numerous people along the way have helped us without expecting anything in return. We’re all in this startup thing together!

We chatted with Iterate Studio in June 2017…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

Iterate Studio understands the challenges that current enterprises face when trying to choose the best path to innovation. The key to innovation is understanding both with what is available today that provides an immediate impact, while also receiving proactive actionable insights into what is coming tomorrow so that our customers can be ahead of the competition. Iterate helps our enterprise customers by connecting them with emerging technology companies who offer cutting-edge software that have been vetted and tested in the real world. These technologies help enterprises gain a competitive advantage by providing them with ways to scale and improve both their internal and external processes so that they can save money and time internally while simultaneously providing deeply engaging and results-oriented customer service.

How did your company get started?

Iterate Studio was started in 2013 with the goal of transforming retail innovation. We do this by tapping into our decades of technical experience in AI, retail, and web-based platforms to make it easier and faster for large enterprises to connect with and implement groundbreaking technologies. These technologies drive better customer service, higher revenues, and more efficient processes.

Why is your team well positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

Our team is well positioned to deliver on our goal of transforming innovation in the retail sector because of our deep knowledge and experience, resulting in recommendations which help enterprise leaders make informed decisions, enabling them to tackle their current issues all the while being prepared for tomorrow’s challenges because of the strategic guidance we provide.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

We’ve learned that there is no silver bullet for innovation, but that doesn’t mean that innovation is a challenge that cannot be conquered. By being proactive and fostering an environment that is open to change many of today’s businesses can get ahead of their competition by having a partner that helps them understand the innovation landscape unique to their sector, while also providing them the actionable insights and strategies into how to tackle the challenges that lie ahead of them.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

Being at the forefront of innovation, and knowing all of the technologies available helps Iterate Studio to implement best in class software enabling us to scale our internal business practices so that we can save time and money. This ensures that our white glove service is of the highest value, and is always what our customers want and need. We utilize a multitude of back office software to help us streamline our finance, accounting and project management functions, Shoobx to help us manage our cap table and data room, as well as other software that helps us leverage our data to create actionable marketing outreach.

In May 2017, we talked to co-founder Sara Dickhaus de Zarraga to learn more about Flare Jewelry

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

One in 4 women experience rape or attempted rape while they’re in college. Think about that! When we think about assault, we think about someone sneaking up behind you in a dark alley and grabbing you. But that’s not how it happens… 70% of sexual assault takes place between friends and classmates in places where you feel comfortable. So, in those moments you’re not going to have a can of pepper spray on you. And even if you did, you probably wouldn’t feel comfortable using it against someone you know.

We’re a team of entrepreneurs, engineers, and designers who came together because of our shared experiences with sexual assault. We spent the whole last year talking to over 1,600 survivors, advocacy organizations, and universities to make sure we designed the right solution.

Flare Jewelry has developed a super discreet personal safety device that’s designed for real life situations, whether you’re just feeling uncomfortable or it’s an emergency. It’s hidden inside things that you already use, starting with jewelry. Say you’re on a bad date or in a terrible happy hour conversation (we’ve all been there!), press the device once and receive a fake phone call to give yourself an exit to get out of any situation. If the situation escalates, press and hold the device to send an emergency text message to your designated contacts letting them know exactly where you are and that you need help.

How did your company get started?

We met as students at Harvard Business School (class of 2017) and connected over our shared vision that for-profit businesses could be created to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems, as well as our experiences with sexual assault. Being on a college campus again really brought this issue back to the forefront of our minds. We were drinking wine one night and talking about this problem in Sara’s apartment when we saw the can of pepper spray that her mom had bought her when she moved to NYC. We thought it was such an antiquated solution—it seemed absurd. We thought there had to be a better solution.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Invest the time and energy into doing your consumer research—talk to people and really listen to what they’re telling you. We’ve been seeing too many companies in this space push technology solutions at customers without listening to what they actually want and would use. We spent a lot of time talking to survivors at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and Respond Inc, talking to students at various schools in Boston, and talking to university officials.

As co-founders, we’ve learned the value of being upfront and transparent with each member of our team. It’s tough, but having the hard conversations early and often with co-founders, investors, teammates, suppliers, etc. makes your relationships so much stronger and avoids a lot of headache and heartache.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

We’ve taken advantage of all the resources available to us as HBS students, including working in the i-Lab which has been a great community for us (although we’re moving to Bolt’s offices in a couple weeks). When we first started working on Flare, we also competed in several small competitions and won some grant funding that funded all of our initial prototyping needs and forced us to get really clear on our value proposition and vision for the company. We recently won the HBS New Venture Competition, which was very exciting for us. We also took advantage of some great resources in the Boston startup ecosystem—we attend events and meetups, we work with some incredible mentors and advisors, and rely on the advice of some really smart founders.

We caught up with Christoffer Klemming, founder of Waitwhile, in April 2017…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

Americans spend a staggering 37 billion hours waiting in line every year. Whether waiting for brunch or for their turn at the DMV, it’s just a massive waste of human potential. At Waitwhile, we’re trying to tackle this by improving how organizations manage their queues.

You create your Waitwhile queue, add your guests, and we do the rest. From calculating accurate wait time predictions, keeping everyone informed about the line in real-time, and notifying guests when to return, to surfacing insights on queue bottlenecks and building up guest profiles.

We incorporated in August 2016 and are now used by a few thousand organizations ranging from universities including Texas Tech University and Nevada State College, government agencies like the state of Colorado, and events like Tribeca Film Festival, to lots of mom-and-pop salons and eateries.

How did your company get started?

It started with a two hour brunch wait! I’m from Sweden, where people are obsessed with queues. Moving to the Bay Area I became fascinated by how much time people spent in pretty inefficient lines. I kept envisioning a smarter way to queue with a splash of Scandinavian discipline. And so, after two hours in a really messy line to a rather lovely brunch, I whipped out my laptop and started coding on a simple waitlisting app for them. Sadly, they turned it down, but the neighborhood barbershop jumped on instead. I found two like-minded queue nerds to team up with and we’ve grown into something positively useful!

Why is your team well positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

Crafting the perfect wait experience is an interesting mix of statistics, user experience, and behavioral psychology. For example, that mirror in your elevator lobby is no coincidence (hint: distraction is a powerful agent to reduce perceived wait time!).

Our team consists of a hobby psychologist who consumes dissertations on line behavior, a hardcore backend troll who creates some truly beautiful algorithms for time estimations, notification automation and such, and myself who takes pride in a polished and simple user experience. All in all, we bring very complementary skills to the equation!

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

That you can’t assume how your product will be consumed. Going into this, we thought we knew the narrow verticals benefitting from line management, like restaurants and salons. But we’ve seen such a delightful and surprising variety of uses of our platform—I’m surprised on a daily basis by some users’ ingenuity! For example, there’s a Santa Claus at St. James Children’s Hospital using Waitwhile for his annual lap-sitting photo op, a shelter using us to track food delivery to the homeless, and a logistics company using us to assign driver routes. This breadth compelled us to create our API to allow any business to integrate queue management logic into their applications and services.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

Technically, we rely on Google for many of our backend services and Twilio for messaging. Operationally, we’re very indebted to Shoobx keeping us sane and prudent with our legalese, hiring terms, financing, and so much more.

We talked to David Potere, CEO of TellusLabs, for our February 2017 client spotlight…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?

Satellite observation of the Earth holds the answers to questions of increasing urgency in agriculture, natural resources, and the environment. The challenge, however, is that key data assets are stranded and far from analytics-ready. At TellusLabs we translate weather and satellite data into insights for customers in finance, insurance, and agribusiness. The result is market intelligence that arrives earlier, and is more accurate and granular than ever before.

How did your company get started?

Mark Friedl, my co-founder and a Boston University professor, has been pushing the edge of what’s possible at the intersection of satellite imagery and machine learning for the better part of 20 years. He and I met as I started my graduate studies back in 2003. From the outset, we  shared a belief that we’re seeing only the barest glimmer of what’s possible from Earth-wide data and modeling.

We started TellusLabs last year, when we had some evidence that our approach to agricultural forecasting had the potential to beat market expectations fairly consistently. MassChallenge here in Boston was a pivotal experience for us—the forcing function of the accelerator process itself, the world-class mentors and staff, and the great cohort-mates helped us move much more quickly, and take bolder action, than would have been possible on our own.

With our recent seed round complete, TellusLabs is in rapid-growth mode. Throughout the course of 2017, we’re welcoming aboard our first wave of world-class hires in data science, engineering, and applied geography.

Why is your team well positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?

TellusLabs is making a bet that collecting beautiful imagery and weather data from space is not enough. While good raw data is necessary, it is not sufficient. We believe that the truly decisive insights will come from firms that build truly decisive models and measures. These planetary-scale models are hard. They require a specialized set of technologies and a nimble, multidisciplinary team of data scientists, engineers, and applied geographers. That’s the sort of team we’re building.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

I’ve learned to go into every meeting and conversation as open-minded as possible. Part of the fun (and the challenge) of this role is the steady cadence of surprises we face.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?

In terms of team operations, Mark and I are always looking for ways to boost efficiency and keep our attention on customer and product topics. Shoobx has been a great asset in that regard, and the partnership with Goodwin, our counsel, has made the technology integration largely pain-free. It’s good to know we have systems behind us that can scale with us as we grow.

We kicked off 2017 with Parallel Wireless in our January Client Spotlight…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?
Parallel Wireless has a very ambitious vision to make any type of cellular deployment as easy and as cost-effective as Wi-Fi. Currently, the company is live or in with major leading operators (publically announced: Telefonica, EE/BT) on six continents. Service providers can level the economic playing field and enhance rural communication with fast, secure, and cost-effective solutions from Parallel Wireless. The result is rural coverage that can finally be affordable for a massive rollout. With wireless broadband in place, rural areas will have the resources necessary to attract new business, sustain existing businesses, decrease the need to commute, and reduce environmental impact. Parallel Wireless’ innovation and excellence has been recognized with 26 industry awards and was nominated for the “Fierce 15” top emerging technology startups list.

How did your company get started?
The defining challenge for mobile operators is to dramatically reduce the cost of delivering coverage and capacity so that they can meet the insatiable data demands of today’s subscribers.  We are not a point product provider, but rather a solutions provider and a business partner. The heart of our strategy is helping solution providers around the world to reimagine the Radio Access Network (RAN). With our breakthrough technology, we’re able to do something that basic wireless technology can’t—a standards-based, simplified, interoperable, and cost-effective network that is inherently more resilient due to the adaptive nature and self-learning capabilities of our world-first innovative technology.

Why is your team well positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?
Parallel Wireless, headquartered in New Hampshire with a Research Center in India and Sales offices worldwide, was founded in 2012 by several serial entrepreneurs with a vision to reimagine the cellular RAN architecture. The team has been at the forefront of the wireless, wireline, and cable industries and technology innovation for the past two decades—bringing an insider’s perspective to a complex and ever-changing networking landscape. The team envisioned that with Parallel Wireless’ technology, building carrier-grade cellular or Public Safety LTE networks would become as easy as building Wi-Fi networks. For example, at Super Bowl 50, Parallel Wireless provided LTE connectivity to public safety. The network was deployed under 20 minutes by two FBI technicians that had very limited training on our solution.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Detours are a natural part of every growing company’s journey. We have learned to never question our passion and our ability to get things done. Our confidence in our team, in where we are going, and in what we are trying to build, got us where we are today. We treat all of our customers as co-creators helping to direct the company. The customer feedback loop is a key part of our DNA and it’s part of who we are as a company.

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?
Shoobx of course! We started with Shoobx when we were barely 60 team members, and now we are approaching 200. For a thriving startup like Parallel Wireless, it is important to manage financial and legal workflows not only efficiently, but cost-effectively as well and be able to scale as the company expands. Shoobx has been a great partner in helping us to manage our growth.

In November 2016, we asked Auto-Pilot Medical Technologies to tell us about themselves…

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?
APMT is bringing the personal fitness data revolution to the place where it is most needed: healthcare and physical therapy. Many therapy patients use a walking aide while recovering from surgery, after suffering neurological injuries, or while managing chronic conditions. For caregivers, improving a patient’s functionality and independence is the most important outcome of therapy. So why are we not measuring it? In addition, physical therapy clinics lose an average of $150,000 annually due to premature patient self-discharge. Increasing patient retention through technology will reduce this lost revenue and lead to more complete recoveries.

How did your company get started? 
Our company started from many conversations with physical therapists about a completely different product. It was through these conversations that we gained a better understanding of the challenges faced by healthcare professionals, mostly stemming from a lack of high-quality, reliable patient data. These conversations led to a pivot in which we are now focused on patient data acquisition and analysis. We learned very early on that the customer is everything to a company, and we have since been working to design our product around the most pressing market needs.

Why is your team well positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling? 
The team is in a great position to solve this problem due to important strategic connections and a unique technology. Unlike other personal fitness trackers, we are fully focused on the physical therapy market, and can thus provide products and services that are more cost-effective and specifically tailored to our customers.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
The biggest lesson we have learned is that physical therapy, and healthcare in general, doesn’t exist in a bubble. There are so many external factors that affect our company and our value propositions, such as regulatory changes, insurance coverage, political gridlock, personal finance, and other market trends. In order to understand who will pay for our product (and why), we have really had to dig as deep as we can into all these areas, and more. When I started this company, I didn’t think I’d be paying much attention to a US House bill focused on tele-health, but here we are!

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?
So far, we have been scraping by mostly on prize winnings and innovation grants from MIT and the State of North Dakota. We have recently started our seed round, in which we plan to raise just over $100,000 from angels and individual investors (our initial deals have almost all been executed with Shoobx!). These funds will enable hiring some key personnel and cover capital costs for the manufacturing of our products. Key partnerships with healthcare facilities are promising to pay dividends when clinical studies start in the next month.

 

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