Highlights from the Innovation Economy blog.
A Boston company that creates internal “app stores” for customers such as Cisco Systems and the Boston Celtics said last week that Intel Capital, a division of the Silicon Valley chip maker, has made an investment. Founded four years ago by Chuck Goldman, former Apple executive, Apperian has banked $28 million.
Apperian helps companies deploy mobile apps for their employees. Imagine an icon on your device that, instead of taking you to Apple’s iTunes Store, brings you to a collection of apps your company selected for you.
“A company like Cisco today has about 80 apps, mostly for their global sales organization,” says Apperian’s chief executive, David Patrick. “The apps might be sales commission calculators, or apps for expense tracking. They can host those privately in our cloud infrastructure, and new sales people can download them to iPhones, iPads, or Android devices, and use them as daily productivity tools,” Patrick says. He says that more than 100 companies use Apperian’s technology.
Apperian has nearly 75 employees, most at headquarters in Boston’s Fort Point Channel.
The money from Intel — nearly $5 million, by my math — will mainly go to “growing sales and marketing,” Patrick says. “We’ll hire a number of enterprise sales people and use it to fund some new marketing activity.”
A Lexington firm that has helped several Kickstarter projects go from concept to finished product is getting ready to launch a rival “crowd-funding” site.
Scott Miller, the former iRobot Corp. executive who runs Dragon Innovation, is planning to unveil Dragon Launcher next month, with a carefully chosen set of five to 10 hardware products.
It’s an interesting move as Kickstarter is introducing new rules about how device makers can raise money by preselling their products, while start-ups such ByteLight are being rejected by Kickstarter without explanation.
Miller spent several years helping Walt Disney Imagineering design a walking triceratops robot, and then more than a decade overseeing engineering and manufacturing at Bedford-based iRobot. The company’s expertise is in prepping products to be manufactured and finding the best contract manufacturers in the Far East to do the work.
With Dragon Launcher, Miller says, “We really want to build companies that should exist — the next wave of disruptive hardware companies.” Miller says he will filter out the “perpetual motion machines and junk” as well as “nights and weekends projects.” In Miller’s view, creating the next great device requires you to be ready to quit your day job.
Like Kickstarter, Miller says, Dragon Launcher will take a fee of about 10 percent of the money raised. But unlike at Kickstarter, Dragon Innovation’s consulting services will be priced into each project.
The Cambridge Innovation Center, which leases space in Kendall Square to hundreds of start-ups and tech biggies alike, is looking to launch a group work space called The Hub Boston — in Cambridge.
Geoff Mamlet, center executive, is running the initiative, which would target “mission-driven” entrepreneurs and be part of a global network of more than 30 similar centers.
Mamlet wasn’t ready to say much, but the offices will probably be near Kendall Square.
“Boston has a really large community of people for whom the idea of making the next Facebook just doesn’t make them excited,” he said. “What they want to do instead is make the world a better place. Their goals are centered around doing good. It’s a big, underserved population that we think is really important to serve well.”
Hub Boston will be a coworking space: Individuals and teams pay monthly to use as much space as they need.