409A reports the Shoobx way.

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 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 December 2016, we learned more about Flyp, and their product FLEX

Flex Logo

Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?
FLEX enables multiple independent phone numbers on your smartphone to help separate work and personal life. In today’s mobile-first world, many consumers struggle to stay organized. Most of us still use just one mobile number for everything, which translates into an inability to organize the different parts of our lives.

How did your company get started?
Landlines are disappearing and over 34% of the American workforce is now freelancers, and that number is expected to grow to 80 million by 2020. The phone app and interface weren’t designed for a mobile-first professional—we all suffer from a messy barrage of notifications and communication to one single mobile number. Consumers have begun to demand control, privacy, and separation of work and personal life, and multiple numbers enables this.

Why is your team well positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?
Our founders came out of the messaging space and identified the commoditization of telco services as an opportunity to unify modern telco technology and the power of the smartphone. They believed that they could build a way to serve the modern consumer by delivering communication features they have always deserved. Unlike some of our competitors, we have built a proprietary end-to-end communications platform that allows FLEX to deliver these features at drastically reduced prices. So, we are sharing our pricing breakthroughs with the customer because we believe communications have been too expensive for far too long!

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
When we first launched, some consumers struggled to understand the concept that FLEX can actually put multiple real phone numbers on their one smartphone. However, over the last twelve months, we have seen an explosion in market demand and huge growth in the number of use cases. Our cell phone number has become our individual identifier and it has become increasingly hard to retain privacy and control over our virtual identities. FLEX lets you regain some of that control and keep your personal number exactly what it should be: personal!

What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?
Shoobx is one of the single greatest resources that has enabled our business to grow and iterate quickly. The ability to manage multiple legal, organizational, and financial workflows has given us the ability to move quickly and gain access to the capital and personnel that have been critical to our success. Shoobx streamlines (and in some cases eliminates) the minutiae that plague small businesses looking to scale, and has allowed us to focus on what really matters—the business!

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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