September 22, 2022

BostInno’s 2022 Inno on Fire

Meet the 50 honorees in this year’s BostInno Fire Awards.

The day you’ve been waiting for has arrived. It’s time to meet the 2022 Inno on Fire honorees.

This year’s Inno on Fire companies were selected based on nominations you sent in. These companies have demonstrated their success in raising funds, launching new products, bringing in new customers, growing their Boston footprint and supporting the local community and innovation ecosystem.

Stay tuned for our announcement of the Inno Blazers, in which a single winner from each category chosen by our panel of industry judges. Now, let’s meet the 2022 Inno on Fire honorees:

Cleantech and Greentech

These companies want to save the planet one innovation at a time. 

  • Agilitas Energy: This Wakefield-based company is a rare repeat from last year’s Fire Award honorees. Last year it became the largest distributed solar and storage developer in the Northeast, and the company projects its 2022 revenue to grow fivefold from 2021. It also raised $350 million in equity funding from CarVal Investors in June 2022 to build out 50 to 75 operational projects.
  • The Live Green Group Inc.: After moving from Chile to Cambridge in late 2021, this foodtech startup has been expanding rapidly. It uses its proprietary technology to replace the animal, synthetic and ultra-processed ingredients in food. Live Green has raised over $8 million, merged with five other foodtech startups and launched a direct-to-consumer channel for its food products through Uber and Amazon.
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  • SES: This Woburn company develops and manufactures lithium-metal rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles and released the world’s largest Li-Metal battery in the last year. In February, SES began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The company said in its nomination that it holds $450 million of cash on its balance sheet, which includes investments from industry giants Honda, Hyundai and GM.
  • Seurat Technologies: This Wilmington 3D printing company is attracting the attention of companies like Porsche SE, which was one of the investors on Seurat Technologies’ $21 million Series B extension raise this past year. Other investors include Capricorn, Xerox Ventures, and Siemens Energy. Seurat earned revenue for the first time in 2022. The company said it had 50 employees at the start of the year and aims to have 1,000 employees by 2025.
  • Trella Technologies: This Massachusetts company was founded by Aja Atwood, a natural-catastrophe risk engineer. Now, she’s an agricultural innovator. Trella’s patented technology uses automated plant-training robotics to train tall plants and trees to grow horizontally while monitoring environmental inputs. The company began generating revenue after delivering its first batch of products to customers in Q1 2022.

Consumer Goods

File these companies’ products under “things you’re most likely to put in your online shopping cart.”

  • Behave Bras: After appearing on Shark Tank earlier this year and landing a fast deal with Kevin O’Leary, Attleboro-based Behave Bras went from $56,000 in revenue in 2021 to more than $1 million in revenue through the first half of 2022. CEO Athena Kasvikis projected the company, which makes bras with an innovation design in 30-40 DD-I cups, would finish the year with $2 million in revenue.
  • Metalenz: This company only emerged from stealth in 2021, but it already has more than 20 patents on innovations that simplify and improve optical devices and enable advanced sensing across multiple markets with its metasurface technology. Its work is built on research from the Capasso Lab at Harvard University. The Boston-based company said its optics will be in millions of consumer devices this year.
  • Sh*t That I Knit: This woman-owned and operated company employs 400 artisans in Lima, Peru, to handcraft its knit designs. STIK was an official licensee of Team USA for the delayed 2020 Winter Olympics, providing beanies and mittens featuring hand-embroidered Team USA stitching with the official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team logos. The company was also recently named a licensee of the NFL. And yes, that means merino wool beanies featuring the Patriots logos.
  • Good Filling: This Woburn-based company provides a refill service for personal care and home care products through automated refill machines. Two years ago, Petros Palandjian started Good Filling by refilling bottles in the basement of his South End apartment. In the last year, Good Filling launched self-service refill machines at seven locations throughout Boston and one in New Jersey. The company plans to add 12 more locations in September 2022.
  • REEKON Tools: This Boston-based, self-funded hardware startup was founded during the pandemic  by MIT engineers and an Army veteran. First, it added digital capabilities to a power saw. In May 2022, REEKON Tools launched its digital tape measure and has already generated at least $2.5 million in pre-orders from over 11,000 backers. This company appears to be turning into a favorite for builders and DIY enthusiasts.

Fintech

If Boston is on its way to become a fintech hub, these startups are helping lead the charge.

  • DocFox: This Boston company provides automated business account opening for over 250 financial institutions worldwide. In the last year, it expanded from serving banks and credit unions into automated institutional account onboarding for crypto companies and B2B fintechs. DocFox moved into a new office in Beacon Hill in May 2022, where it plans to grow its team in the coming months.
  • Hi Marley: In the last year, this Boston insurtech enterprise SAAS company raised a $25 million Series B round, formed an insurance advisory council and grew its revenue 128% in 2021 relative to 2020.
  • Insurify: This Cambridge company operates an AI-powered insurance comparison platform, allowing customers to compare and purchase a variety of policies online. Insurify opened its first international office in Bulgaria at the end of 2020 and created its own in-house sales and service center. Its team grew from 67 to 160 employees. To cap off its growth, Insurify raised a $100 million Series B round in 2021.
  • Shoobx: Shoobx wants to become the go-to equity management company for startups. In April 2022, Shoobx announced the launch of fully automated equity financing on its platform. It also brings together startup leaders, lawyers, and investors in a single collaborative hub. Shoobx launched a collaboration with Fidelity Investments in July 2021 to support private companies from idea to exit or IPO, and beyond. In early 2022, Shoobx joined the Open Cap Table Coalition to improve the interoperability, transparency and portability of startup capitalization data.
  • Till Financial: This startup’s fee-free app and debit card helps kids develop money habits that prepare them for the real world. Within the last year, it expanded from iOS to Android and became available across the U.S. Till said its customer base grew 1000% year to year and it doubled its headcount, including hiring Antall Fernandes as director of engineering. Fernandes previously held the same role at Drizly.

Software Companies — Later stage (Series C and later)

There were so many nominations for software companies, we created two categories! First, reintroduce yourself to these local big-name companies. 

  • ezCater: 2020 was tough for Boston-based ezCater. The company said it saw an 85% drop in revenue as the country went into lockdown and had to lay off nearly half of its staff. But ezCater has had a strong comeback. The company credits its rebound to its ability to meet the changing needs of today’s workplaces. For example, it rolled Relish Flex to allow companies to order food and accommodate any number of employees and create meal plans that fit hybrid schedules and evolving budgets. In December 2021, ezCater raised $100 million led by SoftBank, bringing its post-money valuation to $1.6 billion.
  • mabl: A $40 million Series C round led by Vista Equity Partners’ Endeavor at the end of 2021 propelled mabl into the new year. The Boston company has since launched several new features for its test automation platform and doubled its global team in 2022.
  • Mirakl: Mirakl saw some major growth in 2021, including over $100 million in annual recurring revenue and $555 million in Series E funding. The most recent funding round, led by Silver Lake, put the company’s valuation at over $3.5 billion – that’s a 230% increase in one year. Mirakl plans to continue to invest and scale its Boston HQ team with its new capital.
  • Salsify: This e-commerce software company works with major brands like L’Oreal, Coca-Cola and GSK to provide product experiences across what it calls the “digital shelf.” Salsify raised a $200 million Series F round at a $2 billion valuation in April. As of March, the company said it reached $111 million in annual recurring revenue, up 53% year over year, and grew its customer base by 36%. Salsify has also partnered with local organizations like Hack.Diversity and Resilient Coders to diversify its internal teams.
  • Solo.io: Late last year, this Cambridge company put itself on Massachusetts’ unicorn list with a $135 million Series C funding. Solo.io said its headcount has increased by nearly 300% in the last year.
  • StarburstStarburst is a data and analytics company that provides customers with a single point of secure data access. At the start of 2022, the Boston-based company raised $250 million in Series D financing at a $3.35 billion valuation, bringing its total financing to $414 million. It has tripled employee headcount in the last year and opened a Boston office. The company now serves customers in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. And, Starburst acquired Varada, a data lake analytics accelerator, this summer.

Software Companies — Earlier-stage (Series B and earlier)

And now, meet the software startups shaking up the industry. 

  • Armored Things: Boston-based Armored Things is a software company for smart space planning. It uses AI and existing data sources such as Wi-Fi and sensors to provide corporate campuses and colleges with occupancy analytics to optimize their spaces. Its technology is used by professional sports teams like the Los Angeles Football Club, universities and companies like Boston Scientific.
  • Embue: We’re venturing outside Greater Boston for this honoree. Worcester-based Embue has built a solution that uses IoT devices and a cloud-based platform to reduce carbon emissions and make multifamily apartment buildings more energy efficient. The company said its tech is used in over 6,000 apartments (most of which are in the Boston area, but they’re expanding nationwide). Embue said its growth has taken place in the last year.
  • NewStore: Boston-based NewStore provides retail businesses, like Burton Snowboards, UNTUCKit, and Vince, with a platform that helps them manage things like mobile point-of-sale, order management, inventory management and store fulfillment. The company said that year-over-year, its revenue has increased 400% and its customer base has tripled. Last summer, NewStore raised a $45 million Series B-1 funding round. And at the start of this year, NewStore launched NewStore Consumer Apps to allow brands to build and deploy their own mobile shopping apps.
  • HYCU: Just a few months ago, this Boston company raised a $53 million Series B round to bring the total raised to $140 million in little more than a year. This summer HYCU moved into a new headquarters in the Seaport. The company has more than 3,200 customers and plans to hit 10,000 customers over the next two years.
  • SplitSpot: This Boston startup has created an apartment rental platform that gives renters flexibility in where they live, when they move out and who they live with. This past year, SplitSpot raised a $2 million seed round and expanded beyond Boston into New York, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Chicago and Philadelphia.
  • Wabbi: This female-founded Boston cybersecurity company raised more than $2 million in seed funding late last year, following months of growth that featured contracts with Fortune 1000 companies and the Air Force. Wabbi’s continuous application security orchestration and correlation platform allows companies to ensure code is always ready to ship in line with current security standards.
  • WeSpire: WeSpire’s ESG employee engagement platform and campaigns have seen a 57% increase in users over the last year. The Boston-based company raised a $13 million Series B investment round to fuel its growth. It was also honored in the software category of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards.
  • NetVirta: This Boston company’s first product, a medical app to 3D scan patients for custom-fit orthoses and prostheses, was cleared by the FDA in 2013. NetVirta has since expanded the applications of its technology to sports equipment and retail industries, scanning NFL and NCAA football players for custom-fit helmets. The company recently expanded into retail to help consumers order the right size apparel. NetVirta has signed contracts with eight publicly traded companies over the past two years, including Merrell, a Wolverine Worldwide brand.

Life Sciences

Boston’s life sciences scene is always lit. Meet some unique companies that stood out. 

  • Embark Veterinary: Last summer, this veterinary startup raised a $75 million Series B round. Then in October, Embark launched what it says is the first-ever DNA test for purebred dog owners. Embark also created a product for veterinarians to use genetics to help inform proactive clinical care plans for dogs. And, the company worked with breeders to identify the genetic mutation associated with early-onset adult deafness in Rhodesian Ridgebacks to help eliminate the condition in this breed.
  • PepGen: Some of this Cambridge biotech’s achievements over the past year include a $112.5 million Series B round in August 2021, the launch of human trials for its lead drug candidate, multiple additions to its leadership team and, at the start of 2022, going public — one of the few biotech IPOs this year.
  • Scipher Medicine: This precision immunology company is developing tests to match patients with their most effective therapy option. Waltham-based Scipher raised a $110 million Series D financing in the last year to develop tests for autoimmune diseases like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. The company has future plans to launch five new tests. Scipher has more than 130 employees, the majority of whom were hired in the last year.
  • Seismic Therapeutic: Seismic’s launch at the start of 2022 represented the second startup founded by Jo Viney, a former Biogen Inc. and Amgen Inc. executive who headed up Pandion Therapeutics Inc. until its acquisition by Merck & Co. The company announced its presence with $101 million in Series A funding and a plan to shift how immunology biologics therapies are discovered and developed through machine learning
  • Sophia Genetics: This cloud-native software company celebrated an IPO in the summer of 2021 and reported a 40% year-over-year jump in revenues for its fourth quarter in 2021. In the first quarter of 2022, revenue was $10.9 million, representing year-over-year revenue growth of 21%. Over the last year, Sophia Genetics has also expanded its office in Boston, opened a new facility in Rolle, Switzerland, and broke ground on its new facility in Bidart, France.

Medtech and Healthtech

Not to be overshadowed by biotech, medtech and healthtech companies made major news this year too. 

  • IntelyCare: This Quincy-based tech company is empowering health care workers to build their own schedule and find work-life balance. It also helps health care facilities have more control over how they manage their full time and float pool staff. The company said its year-over-year revenue tripled in 2021. Earlier this year IntelyCare hit unicorn status with a $115 million fundraise.
  • 20/20 Onsite: True to its name, this Everett company provides on-site eye health assessments directly to patients through its mobile vision clinics. It provides services for primary vision care (including to about 450 companies in the Greater Boston area) and decentralized clinical trials. In January 2022, 20/20 Onsite reunited with Boston Public Schools, the New England College of Optometry and Warby Parker to give BPS students free eye exams and glasses. The company said it is on track to double its business in 2022 due to the growth of its decentralized clinical trials segment and the launch of three new mobile vision clinics.
  • Linus Health: This digital health care company has been on a tear in the past year, raising a $55 million Series B venture capital round last summer, growing its team by 500%, opening a new office in Boston’s Seaport District and acquiring Dublin-based Kinesis Health Technologies in early 2022. Linus Health also had its digital cognitive assessment product named one of TIME’s 100 Best Inventions of 2021.
  • OPT Industries: MIT spinout OPT Industries said it has supplied over 800,000 of its 3D-printed nasal swabs to health care and at-home testing organizations nationwide. Last summer it opened its first facility, a 14,000 square foot manufacturing site, in Medford. OPT raised a $15 million Series A financing earlier this year.
  • Overjet: This dental AI company secured two FDA clearances in the past 16 months to detect tooth decay and quantify bone loss on X-rays. In addition, it automates insurance claim processing to approve claims that meet medical necessity guidelines. Overjet says its technology is already in use by most of the largest insurance companies, covering over 100 million patients. The Boston-based company has raised $80 million to date and has a $425 million valuation.
  • Rocket VR Health: Rocket VR Health is developing virtual reality therapy programs to help cancer patients and survivors tend to their mental health. The Wakefield-based company has grown its team with oncologists, Hollywood animators, game designers and VR creators over the last year. Rocket VR has also created partnerships with the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine, the Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center and Massachusetts General Hospital to study and develop its VR therapeutics.
  • VideaHealth: VideaHealth has seen its technology make steady progress over the last year. It’s introducing AI into dentist diagnoses to reduce errors and create more consistent treatment plans. The Boston-based company secured FDA clearance for its AI platform that accurately finds cavities on X-rays, closed a $20 million Series A round led by Spark Capital and created partnerships with some prominent dental support organizations and other industry leaders.

Robotics

These companies’ products roll, swim, pack, sort and more. 

  • Sea Machines:  In October 2021, Sea Machines’ autonomous command and control technology drove a tugboat around Denmark, marking what the company says was the first autonomous circumnavigation of a country. This Boston-based company builds autonomous command and control technology and long-range, computer vision perception for the maritime industry. In the last year Sea Machines has partnered with manufacturers like HamiltonJet and Rolls Royce to deploy its tech.
  • Realtime Robotics: In the last 12 months, Realtime Robotics has raised a $45.8 million Series A round, partnered with Kawasaki and Mitsubishi, opened new offices in Japan and won the Inno Madness tournament. Realtime Robotics is a Boston-based company that creates collision-free motion plans for industrial robots and autonomous vehicles. Its software allows robots to function in unstructured environments and respond to changes in their workspaces.
  • RGo Robotics: This Cambridge startup emerged from stealth earlier this year after four years of developing its artificial perception technology for mobile robots. RGo Robotics launched with $20 million in funding. The company said it has 50 team members and is growing rapidly with over $10 million in customer deals already secured.
  • Berkshire Grey: This well-known industry figure made the Fire Awards list just over a year after it started trading on Nasdaq. Since October 2021, Bedford-based Berkshire Grey has secured $68 million in new orders, added six new partnerships to its technology alliance program and expanded its relationship with customer FedEx, which includes an agreement to develop a new solution to help improve the safety and efficiency of FedEx package handling operations globally. To keep up with demand, Berkshire Grey is rolling out new tech solutions for automating warehouse processes like picking, inducting, packing, sorting and mobility.

Ecosystem Supporters

Putting together a list of impressive startups would be impossible without the group’s supporting their success. 

  • BioConnects New England: This organization, born out of the Biopharmaceutical Analysis Training Lab at Northeastern University, aims to create a biomanufacturing cluster that includes low- and moderate-income communities throughout Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island that have been historically left behind during previous economic recoveries. At the end of 2021, BioConnects New England was named a Phase 1 finalist of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. It has since announced partnerships with more than 20 organizations.
  • Harvard Innovation Labs: As the Harvard Innovation Labs enters its second decade, the organization saw a 33% increase in the total number of ventures (more than 900!) it supported in the 2021-2022 academic year compared to the year before. To support these ventures, the university innovation center said it hosted virtual and in-person programming, set up mentorship meetings with hundreds of advisors and industry experts and held a wide range of workshops on topics such as building an MVP and understanding your customers.
  • Institute for Experiential AI at Northeastern: In April 2022, Northeastern University’s Institute of Experiential AI announced its plan to bring a focus on AI to the university. With over 90 faculty members, the institute will focus on developing applied, responsible AI solutions to real-world problems and shaping the next generation of AI talent. Its goal is to make Boston and the New England region the driver of global innovation and thought leadership for experiential AI and AI ethics.
  • Mendoza Ventures: Senofer Mendoza and her husband, Adrian, founded venture capital firm Mendoza Ventures about six years ago. The firm invests in early- and growth-stage fintech, AI and cybersecurity companies, especially those led by immigrants, people of color and women. Mendoza Ventures is in the process of raising its third fund — a $100 million fund focused on Series A to C funding rounds. Senofer was just appointed on the National Advisory Council on Innovation & Entrepreneurship (NACIE) for the Biden administration to support and build on the US innovation economy. Mendoza Ventures also just expanded its Boston headquarters and opened a San Francisco office.
  • The Leadership Consortium: This Cambridge-based organization brings top talent from companies together in a virtual development program that helps diverse leaders overcome barriers to advancement. More than 3,500 participants have completed the program since its founding in 2018. The organization said it hired four new people in the last year to scale programming, which doubled the size of its team. The organization was founded by Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei, Thinkers50 honoree Anne Morriss and tech executive Cara Shortsleeve.

Read the full article here.

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