Techstars Boston, which invests in early-stage companies, debuted a new class of startups Wednesday during a “demo day” at the House of Blues.
The startups were divided into three categories: those that are working to save lives (think health tech), saving the planet (think climate tech), or are wicked awesome (think industries that are “authentically Boston,” such as 3D printing and robotics). You can check out the list of startups here.
Here’s a looks at some of the most memorable moments from the event.
Best use of an invented word
This one goes to Greg Raiz, managing director of Techstars Boston, who said “bearicorn” three times during his opening remarks.
“Yeah, bearicorns,” he repeated, to make sure everyone heard him right.
Raiz doesn’t think Boston’s tech scene is full of “magical unicorns,” or companies valued at more than $1 billion, that don’t have much impact on society. Bearicorns, a mix between a bear and a unicorn, better depict the innovation happening in the area, he said.
“We’re tough. We’re Boston,” Raiz said. “We’re driven to change the world in meaningful ways.”
The hottest take
Jonathan Chang, chief executive of Markit Social, went after the event management platform that Techstars used to register people for Demo Day to pitch his competing business.
“What do you remember about your invite to this event?” he asked the audience. “Probably nothing. And if anything, you remember how much this process sucks.”
Behind him on a screen was a photo of the Eventbrite website, with a prompt asking someone to verify their e-mail address. Markit Social, Chang said, is an event service that uses text message communication instead of e-mail.
“This is how people actually communicate…98 percent of text messages are opened,” he said.
The biggest flex
Startups like to name check well-known companies as their early customers. Bob Cao, chief executive of 3D printing startup Pantheon Design, took that to another level.
He said streaming giant Netflix used Pantheon’s printer to make more than a thousand parts for the “The Adam Project,” an action movie starring Ryan Reynolds.
“Our machines haven’t been just hiding in labs,” he said. “There’s something that we made literally every minute.”
The funniest pitch
Puns can be bad, especially when featured in a startup’s pitch deck. But the chief executive of High Time Foods, Aakash Shah, got the audience to laugh at several plant-based chicken jokes.
“We’re thinking beyond that, and you might think it is impossible,” he said, clearly referencing industry incumbents Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
He also created an entire slide for the “three magic words” everyone wants to hear about animal alternatives: Tastes like chicken.
Most effective pitch deck slide
There have been major advances in drug delivery technology, allowing patients to get devices implanted in their body that release medication. But Hera Health Solutions’ CEO Idicula Mathew let the audience in on a little-known challenge. (Cue photos of implant removal complications.)
At Hera Health, Mathew is creating a drug delivery implant that erodes in the body overtime, meaning it never has to come out. Its first drug — which it hopes to have approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2025 — is a birth control implant.
One for the crypto bros
During the pandemic, tons of people — including Candle Finance CEO Gary Tokman — started buying stocks for the first time, “thanks to apps like Robinhood,” he said. (Remember the meme stock craze, when some people tried to send stock prices for companies like GameStop “to the moon?”)
“We were pumped and dumped,” Tokman said, “all because these apps we downloaded in the first place didn’t give us the tools or know-how for us to be successful.”
His investing app, Candle, helps users keep their portfolios balanced between risk and return.