Highlights from the Innovation Economy blog.
If you’re going to the Consumer Electronics Show for the first time, I recommend taking the Francisco Aguilar route. The cofounder of Bounce Imaging got an invitation to demo at the vast Las Vegas tech confab this week, gratis, courtesy of the Syfy channel and Publicis Groupe.
His Boston start-up will be presenting at an invitation-only showcase of soon-to-be-released products on Wednesday — and potentially landing some additional financing as part of the event.
Bounce, one of Boston’s most promising hardware start-ups, is developing a tossable, baseball-size orb embedded with cameras and other sensors. Pitch it into a dangerous situation and it sends back panoramic pictures and data about what’s happening — without putting people at risk.
Bounce won $50,000 in last year’s MassChallenge competition, and Time Magazine named it one of the best inventions of 2012.
Since the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., “unfortunately what we are doing is top-of-mind.” Aguilar says. “The regular beat cop doesn’t have access to the same kind of surveillance equipment a SWAT team would have, but they usually arrive at the scene first.
“Our device will be cheap enough to be in every squad car’s trunk, so it can give them a view of what’s going on before they have to go into an active-shooter-type situation.”
The target price is about $500.
The company is building test units and plans to start working with New England law enforcement agencies to see how the orb can be helpful and how it might be improved.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, Aguilar says, the objectives are to talk with potential investors, meet prospective suppliers, and, of course, garner a little media attention.
Aguilar’s cofounder, David Young, a former Army Ranger, will be heading to Maine this week to attend a less glam — but probably more essential — gathering of SWAT teams.
New homes for Endeca alumni
The Endeca exodus seems to be intensifying, following the Cambridge enterprise software company’s $1 billion acquisition by Oracle in October 2011.
Cofounders Steve Papa and Pete Bell left Oracle in December. Former Endeca SVP Chris Comparato is now at Acquia, the Burlington company that peddles Web content-management software. Others have left for PayPal Boston, the online travel search engine Hopper, the Internet advertising company DataXu, and Lookout Gaming, a start-up.
I wrote last month about Toast, a new mobile app for diners developed by a trio of ex-Endecans.
And there’s another local start-up, Salsify, founded by alumni of Endeca. Salsify is building a cloud-based system to help manufacturers distribute information about products — images, descriptions, ads, suggested prices — to distributors and retailers. Founders Jason Purcell and Jeremy Redburn left Endeca in September; the third cofounder, Rob Gonzalez, had departed in 2010. Salsify has not yet raised outside funding.
Purcell explains that Salsify’s product enables manufacturers to upload product data, and then retailers and distributors can access what they need. They can also subscribe to feeds to stay up to date about product changes, promotions, or perhaps new accessories. “A brand might have 40 different distributors, and each needs product images in a different size,” Purcell says. “We want to simplify that.”
Video game industry again lures Somol
Walter Somol couldn’t stay away from the video game business for long. After just about a year-and-a-half as Microsoft’s community liaison at its New England R&D center, he’s starting a new job at Stomp Games, which makes the Facebook game Robot Rising.
Somol had spent five years helping to manage Microsoft’s relationships with game developers; before that he worked at Atari and at a law firm that represented game developers.
At Stomp, Somol will be director of marketing and business development. “I’m really excited about this opportunity,” he said. “ We’re all excited to be in the online/free to play space. I think that’s where we will see the most growth and innovation in the near term.”