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Weather stations, pet feeders, and social robots: Here are the 7 teams that got into Boston's new Bolt accelerator program

Posted by Scott Kirsner  July 31, 2013 09:00 AM

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I've been covering Bolt, a new accelerator program in Boston, since early last year, when founder Ben Einstein moved from Northampton to Boston to raise money for the idea. It took Einstein a bit longer than he'd hoped to raise money, find a home base, and sort through 850 applications from entrepreneurs who wanted to be part of Bolt's first cohort. But the program kicks off today, with a set of seven startups working on hardware-oriented products. Three of the companies have already raised some money, and Einstein says that one is on track to hit $1 million in revenues this year. (He wasn't specific about which companies those were.)

Gaining acceptance to Bolt's six-month program gets you free office space in Downtown Crossing; $50,000 in seed capital and a $100,000 line of credit; and access to mentorship and Bolt's elaborately-outfitted prototyping shop.

These are the seven companies chosen for Bolt's first class; the descriptions were provided by Einstein. (In the photo at right is Petnet's $149 "intelligent pet feeder," which can be controlled with a smartphone app.)

Subsidence generates real-time, localized, atmospheric data, powered by its dense grids of next generation weather stations. From Madison, WI.

Petnet creates a line of intelligent pet products and leverages the data they capture so that pets, their owners, and caregivers can all be digitally connected. From Pasadena, CA.

Behavioral Technologies builds wearable technology that seeks to influence habits, rather than simply measure movement. From San Francisco, CA.

Loci Controls helps landfills optimize methane collection and energy generation. Loci is also one of the 128 finalists in this year's MassChallenge competition.

Padloc designs and manufactures innovative tablet hardware and technology solutions for national retailers, hotels and banks.

BeTH creates prosthetic and orthotic devices that provide custom fit comfort without custom fabrication.

BlabDroid builds social robots paired with dynamic content to create unique relationships with technology. (I covered BlabDroid, founded by MIT Media Lab alum Alexander Reben, back in May.)

Bolt's concluding "prototype day," at which all seven companies will present to investors, is scheduled for January 23rd.

Bolt plans to host the relatively-new Boston Hardware Meetup every six weeks, which features presentations from a handful of startups; there's one this evening.

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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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