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Betaspring Launch Day 2012: The Innovation Economy awards

Posted by Scott Kirsner  April 26, 2012 06:20 PM

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I zipped down to Providence this afternoon to watch sixteen entrepreneurs present brief demos of what they've been developing as part of the spring 2012 Betaspring startup accelerator program.

All of the teams had impressive pitches, and several had already raised $100,000 or more from investors before their official "coming out" presos today. Here are my very subjective, somewhat tongue-in-cheek Innovation Economy awards for Betaspring's latest crop...

incantor.jpgRooting for Them to Take Over the World award

Next time you're in the hospital, you'll probably wish the doctors, nurses, and lab techs were using CareThread. It's a mobile app that lets a doctor going home for the night update the next doctor coming on duty about your status. That next doctor can also get an instant alert once your latest lab tests come in. The founders of CareThread say that patient hand-offs — typically done with a quick hallway conversation or some scribbled notes today — are responsible for 80 percent of all medical errors.

Seems Like the Next 'Guitar Hero' award

Betaspring clearly saved Movable Code for the last slot of the day for a reason: the startup had a wacky, fun demo of a new game, Incantor, that combines a mobile phone strapped to your arm with a magic wand. (See the pic at right.) You can cast spells and do battle alone or with other players — and the company will of course sell you special spells after you've gotten hooked. Now if they can only get 10 percent of all Harry Potter fans to buy one...

Best Name

I didn't quite grok the name Autoshag until the final line of their preso. By helping consumers save money by purchasing used vehicles directly from car auctions, the startup is "shagging the used car business." Austin Powers would be proud...

kaymcgowan.jpgStartup That is Also a Perpetual Vacation award

Kay McGowan's e-commerce site A Curated World requires her to jet around the planet — to spots like Marrakesh and Buenos Aires — looking for luxe merchandise from local designers. Rough life. (McGowan is a former manager at the Boston retailer Mohr & McPherson.)

Best Foreign Accent that Forces You to Pay Close Attention

Alexander Naslednikov, a Russian educated in Israel who started GBooking, a site that lets you search for service providers, compare price, and make appointments online. Russia's biggest search engine, Yandex, has already made an investment in the startup.

Best Strategy for Getting the Audience on Your Side

Ellie Schoppik of Prepmatic. He promised to make his SAT prep site available for free to low-income schools and every school in Rhode Island. It was a big applause line (despite Rhode Island being, um, the smallest state in the U.S.?)

sproutel.jpgSteve Jobs Reality Distortion Field award

I don't have diabetes, and I don't know any kids with diabetes, but by the time Aaron Horowitz was two minutes into his demo of Sproutel, I was ready to shell out $150 for a teddy bear that can help you learn about managing the disease. It doesn't hurt that the company recently nailed down a marketing partnership (and will conduct a pilot study) with the Mayo Clinic. Horowitz said the company has raised $125,000 toward a $550,000 goal. (Horowitz wisely chose not to wear the teddy bear suit on-stage...)

Admirable Honesty award

"If I'm honest, I just want to look better naked." — Thryve co-founder Caleb Oller. Thryve is developing a web site and a mobile app to help people to eat right and stay on diets.

No One Takes Your Five-Year Revenue Projections Seriously award

Everyone. Why include them?

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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Events

March 3: Web Innovators Group
Demos, drinks, and schmoozing at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge.

March 7-8: MassDigi Game Challenge
Competition for aspiring game developers... plus panels and keynotes related to the business of play.

April 3-4: Mass Biotech Annual Meeting
Issues facing the region's life sciences community.

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