Highlights from boston.com/hive, Boston’s source for innovation news.
When the Ashland start-up IdeaPaint introduced John Stephans as chief executive in April, the company, which makes white boards out of ordinary surfaces, promised to “significantly expand its track record of product innovation.”
Three months into Stephans’ tenure, the wheels of change are already turning.
The company plans to relocate to Boston, on Broad Street, in September.
Moreover, it now focuses on business customers. The company’s painting kits, which turn any smooth surface into a dry eraseboard, are still available to the masses for $225 at home improvement stores.
But IdeaPaint sees more growth potential in catering to a corporate clientele.
“It’s fundamentally provided a stronger coherence around what we’re going after,” Stephans said at the Boston office of PayPal, one of its biggest clients.
PayPal moved to One International Place in February and quickly slathered its new walls with IdeaPaint, enabling workers to jot down ideas whenever inspiration strikes. IdeaPaint is so ubiquitous at PayPal that workers have inadvertently vandalized walls coated in regular paint, thinking every surface is erasable.
“That’s why we started putting up these,” PayPal executive David S. Chang said, pointing to a decal on IdeaPaint walls with the invitation to “write your bright ideas here!”
Stephans also said he and his staff have been brainstorming ways to preserve the work scrawled onto surfaces coated in IdeaPaint, perhaps with a mobile application that uses smartphone cameras.
“Say you spend two hours brainstorming, coming up with something great,” Stephans said. “What do you do with what’s on the wall next?
— CALLUM BORCHERS
Female protagonists for video games
At Bocoup Loft this past weekend, coders, artists, and gaming aficionados came together for one reason: to dream up, design, and playtest a new generation of female video game protagonists.
“Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the reluctance in the video game industry to feature female leads and the poor treatment of female characters that are featured,” said the group’s Eventbrite page.
The hackathon is an offshoot of a Vancouver-based effort, i am a gamer, that aims to spotlight missed opportunities and misconceptions in the gaming industry about what does and does not resonate with an increasingly diverse — and vocal — audience.
But building better female game icons will take more than swapping Zelda for Link or revamping Lara Croft’s figure.
It means changing the culture to encourage more-complex characterizations that move beyond the medium’s classic tropes and encourages a diversity of play styles and archetypes.
— MICHAEL MORISY
Delightfully pleased by its success
A year ago, the Cambridge start-up Delightfully was a MassChallenge business competition finalist.
Now, the young company, which makes digital gift-wrapping, is catching on with online shoppers, and its founders have been asked to serve as resources for this year’s MassChallenge finalists.
Cofounder Gina Luciano takes the promising year as validation for Delightfully, which had to demonstrate that shoppers would pay to “wrap” online presents — say, an Amazon gift certificate sent by e-mail that is revealed only after the recipient scrolls through a photo collage.
“We’ve discovered that people are more than willing to pay for this,” Luciano said. “With so many digital tools offering free services, it was something we wanted to prove right up front. And we did.”
Since the company’s official launch late last year, Delightfully customers have put $3 digital wrapping paper on about 500 gifts. A quarter of gift-givers have used the service more than once.
Delightfully has no marketing budget (it is operating on about $100,000 in angel funds, the biggest chunk from Avid Technology founder Bill Warner), so the company’s growth is purely organic.
Gift recipients, charmed by thoughtful presentations, often share their new photo puzzles and scrapbooks on social media, Luciano said. Some become customers.
Luciano and her partner, James Barabas, plan to launch a marketing effort and are contemplating a Kickstarter campaign to raise money and identify loyal supporters.
— CALLUM BORCHERS
Catchpoint opens Hub office
Catchpoint Systems Inc., a New York company that provides Web services, has opened an office in Boston’s Leather District to increase its sales and support teams.
Catchpoint says that it helps companies better understand the performance of their online services so they can ensure a fast, glitch-free online environment to improve user satisfaction, reduce management costs, and protect revenue.
In March, Catchpoint closed a $3.2 million Series A financing round led by Battery Ventures.
The company said it plans to have more than a dozen employees in the Boston office by the end of 2013.
“Boston is the mecca of Web performance,” Catchpoint’s chief executive, Mehdi Daoudi, said in a prepared statement. “Its talented workforce and reputation as a business and technology epicenter make it an ideal location for our continued expansion.”
— CHRIS REIDY