Start-up ‘finishing school’ awards

Who is taking care of a patient? This app lets someone see at a glance.

Excerpts from the Innovation Economy blog.

I zipped down to Providence recently to watch 16 entrepreneurs present demos of what they have been developing as part of the Betaspring “finishing school’’ for start-ups.

All of the teams had impressive pitches, and several had raised $100,000 or more from investors before their presentations to a crowd of about 150. Here are a few of my very subjective, somewhat tongue-in-cheek Innovation Economy awards for Betaspring’s latest crop:

Rooting for Them to Take Over the World award: Next time you’re in the hospital, you’ll probably wish the doctors, nurses, and lab techs were using CareThread, a mobile app that lets a doctor going home for the night update the incoming doctor about your status. That next doctor can also get an instant alert once your latest lab tests come in.


The founders of CareThread say that patient hand-offs - typically done with a quick hallway conversation or some scribbled notes - are responsible for 80 percent of medical errors.

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Seems Like the Next Guitar Hero award: Betaspring clearly saved Movable Code for last for a reason: The start-up had a wacky, fun demo of a new game, Incantor, that combines a mobile phone strapped to your arm with a magic wand. You cast spells and do battle alone or with other players - and the company will of course sell you special spells after you’ve gotten hooked. Now if they can only get 10 percent of all Harry Potter fans to buy one.

Start-up That is a Perpetual Vacation award: Kay McGowan’s A Curated World e-commerce site requires her to jet to spots like Marrakesh and Buenos Aires, looking for luxe merchandise from local designers. Rough life.

A game called off

Play140 was built atop one of those concepts that could have caught fire - or not.

The premise was that Twitter, in addition to being a communications channel, could be a place for people to play word games. The Cambridge company’s first game, the Acronym Game, invited players to develop the most clever phrase to accompany a random string of letters.


Well, TAGNQBO (The Acronym Game Never Quite Broke Out.)

In August, the company’s Twitter account and blog went quiet. Play140 employees - including two of the three founders - started finding other jobs. By this month, only chief executive Shawn Broderick and chief technology officer Michael Johnson were left.

Last week, Broderick announced on the company’s blog that it was being acquired for an undisclosed amount by Oomba, a stealthy California start-up. One of the company’s founders is Nolan Bushnell, best known for creating Atari and Chuck E. Cheese and inventing the early video game Pong.

Broderick, now Oomba’s president, says the company will soon be headquartered in Massachusetts.

Silver Lining growing locally

A start-up with roots at Columbia University is growing in Kendall Square and building a team chock full of Netezza and Endeca veterans. Silver Lining Systems does not divulge much on its website, but it has $2 million in initial funding.


Cofounder and chief executive Vishal Misra, a Columbia computer science professor, says the company wants to demolish some of the data center bottlenecks that can impair the performance of cloud-based applications and services.

Dan Rubinstein, another Columbia professor, is another founder, as is Joshua Reich, a Columbia PhD and a fellow at Princeton.

Silver Lining has offices in Cambridge and New York, but Misra says the company will primarily be built in Cambridge.

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