Each week, I like to feature one company that a local VC feels is not getting enough attention. This week, we’ll take a break from digging into the Boston venture capital portfolios and check out a few companies that you should be hearing a lot more about, but haven’t yet.
The way I see it, some of these companies could be the next major employers in Boston. A couple even have raised money far greater than some of the startups that seem to draw outsized attention from the local media (cough, cough…food delivery companies and social media add-ons).
GreatHorn – Headquartered on a nondescript side street in Belmont, GreatHorn deserves to be mentioned among the other top emerging cybersecurity startups in Boston.
The company has raised $2.25 million from the likes of ff Venture Capital, SoftTech VC, RRE Ventures, Techstars Ventures, Zelkova Ventures, V1.VC, and Walter Winshall.
I sat down recently with CEO Kevin O’Brien, who has worked for Contact Networks (acquired by Thomson Reuters), Cloudlock, and Conjur, among others.
O’Brien sees an enormous opportunity to combine AI and human oversight to the growing susceptibility of the cloud communication and collaboration spaces. For O’Brien, the greatest threats for breaches rest in the third part apps, add-ons, and other potential loopholes with services like Slack and cloud document sharing and collaboration programs.
Examity – A Boston edtech startup raised $21 million recently. And, you’ve probably never heard of them. And you might have a hard time finding them as well.
Examity is based above a bank (“You have to walk through the ATM to get to the office, which is kind of cool,” CEO Michael London told me) by the MBTA station in downtown Natick.
While it is not being run out of some “hot” Boston property, the company is on the cusp of making waves in the test-taking and online education spaces on a global level.
As London explained, the company offers a full complement of processes to identify and verify people taking tests online. Whereas the rest of the industry focuses on singular methods, for the most part, Examity offers clients a full suite of ways to confirm the identities of online test takers.
While many college online education programs and skill assessment clients are using Examity, London believes they are just dipping their toe in the water for what has the potential to be a truly massive space as more tests, including college entrance exams one day, come online.
NewStore, started by Demandware founder Stephen Schambach, raised $38 million in funding in a single round led by General Catalyst when it launched in 2015.
A mobile retail platform, NewStore works for a wide array of luxury and big name brands to help them stay ahead of technology and social trends and reach more potential retail customers. Instead of using multiple services, NewStore has an all-in-one solution to acquire and sell to mobile users.
The company says it employs more than 140 currently, but should continue to grow massively, and, most likely, quietly, as its mobile shopping solutions gain further market traction.
Parlor Skis – With the season winding down, you might think this is a bad time for a New England-based custom ski maker. Not so, says Parlor CEO Mark Wallace.
You see, not only does Parlor have a ton of orders for its skis for next season to fulfill, it is also offering unique DIY opportunities for those who really want to get involved in the building process.
From April to August, the company will be holding custom ski making classes where attendees will make their own new skis start to finish. It’s a pretty cool way for the company to keep momentum going at a time when things can tend to lag.
But be aware, spaces fill up and Parlor has already quite a few people who’ve made deposits to build a pair this summer.
A Hard $4M – Just one quick note as VentureApp, the company started by two groups of young entrepreneurs who had exits with their previous companies, announced that it had closed a $4 million round of funding earlier this week.
There are a lot of peeps with some startup experience involved in the company started when UMass/Amherst guys Boris Revsin and Jared Stenquist, co-founders of DailyBreak (which had some sort of strategic partnership/acquisition from Connelly Partners) joined forces with the founding team from Bostinno/Streetwise Media including Chase Garbarino, Kevin McCarthy, and Greg Gomer (who all had an exit when the American City Business Journals bought Streetwise). Recently, Chase Garbarino told me that raising this round was one of the most difficult challenges he has faced as an entrepreneur. The outcome: He managed to get Boston Seed onboard, as well as Ryan Moore from Accomplice, whose office the company had been working out of while getting off the ground. The other investor? FullStack Ventures, the fund started by…Revsin, Stenquist, Garbarino, and Gomer.
Utterly not related, but a must watch nonetheless
“Do What You Love?” The advice has become so ubiquitous and overused that it is now the tagline for a company that has raised almost $6 billion in funding in WeWork. Although very motivational, the saying is getting a bit tired.
Well, this guy here, John Shocklee, is actually the living embodiment of “Doing What You Love.” It’s messy and not always glamorous, but if you can find something you love as much as this guy loves touring people in the Rockies, you’re onto something. Watch for the quirky story, enjoy for the breathtaking images.
The passion quote: “Money doesn’t matter to me, never has. It’s not that I’m rich, I didn’t come from money, I still don’t have money.” Shocklee, a 52-year-old ski guide from Colorado says after a tour of his one room abode.