Boston Tech Watch: Bento, MassChallenge, Apprenti, DUST, Chaossearch

[Updated 11/16/18, 2:15 pm. see below] Accelerators and apprenticeships, venture deals and partnerships. Here’s a roundup of Boston technology news bits from the week. Read on:

Nonprofit tech accelerator MassChallenge is toying with launching a for-profit entity to help alumni of the program “further accelerate their growth.” It’s unclear what form that entity might take, and for their part, MassChallenge seems to still be figuring that out. The nonprofit’s founder and CEO John Harthorne will head up the “exploration, research, and design of the adjacent company,” then step down as chief executive of the nonprofit to take over the for-profit enterprise, a spokeswoman said, declining to share more specific details about the move. MassChallenge, which is headquartered in Boston with offices in Israel, Mexico, Switzerland, Texas, and the United Kingdom, also announced a search for the nonprofit’s next CEO.

—Chaossearch, a Somerville, MA, cloud startup founded in 2017 and built specifically to run on Amazon Web Services, has raised $9 million in a new Series A funding round led by .406 Ventures and Glasswing Ventures, and joined by existing investor Stage 1 Ventures, the company said. Chaossearch says its log search and analytics technology for Amazon Web Services gives users visibility into their log and event data in the Amazon cloud. The company says Graham Brooks, partner at .406 Ventures, and Rudina Seseri, founder and managing partner at Glasswing Ventures, will join the company’s board of directors.

—A tech apprenticeship program called Apprenti launched Thursday in Boston and started accepting applications. The program is based on a national model to pair tech-job seekers with the industry by providing them two to five months of certified technical training and then one year of paid on-the-job training at one of the program’s hiring companies. Apprenti is funded through grants and a U.S. Department of Labor contract. The program will set up shop in the state’s Mass Tech Collaborative, a quasi-public agency to support the technology sector in Massachusetts.

—Logistics security firm DUST Identity, which claims to make an uncompromisable diamond dust security tag, raised $2.3 in a seed funding round led by Kleiner Perkins and joined by New Science Ventures, Angular Ventures, and Castle Island Ventures. The funds will help DUST accelerate research and business development, while doubling its staff from seven to 14 people over the next year. DUST says its security tracking tag was born at MIT and developed under the Pentagon’s DARPA program into a commercial product for supply chain security. The tag is made of an invisible coating of tiny diamonds that lets a manufacturer or business add high-level security to the full lifecycle of a product. An optical scanner is used to read the tag and confirm the item’s authenticity.

—Boston online notary service Notarize has partnered with real estate brokerage Redfin to offer a fully online mortgage closing process. The companies say they completed their first fully-digital home closing Nov. 2 for a Texas homebuyer. Notarize last month launched a pro-bono service to notarize applications for absentee ballots in South Dakota.

—Dental benefits management software Bento landed an exclusive recommendation from the Massachusetts Dental Society to be a platform for dentists as an alternative to traditional dental insurance. The Boston company launched last month and helps companies offer self-insured dental plans. Dr. Robert Boose, executive director of the dental society, says the agreement will give dentists across the state a chance to check out the technology. Bento lets users see prices for cleanings and procedures at participating dentists before they walk in the door for an appointment. For dentists, the system gives them immediate payment for services. “If we had all the resources in the world, we would try to develop this technology, but it’s already there,” Boose tells Xconomy. “It’s not a silver bullet, but it certainly helps both parties.”

—[Added] On-site workplace car maintenance startup Zippity says it raised $2.6 million in new funding from A3Ventures, BP Ventures, and LaunchPad Ventures to expand the Boston-based company’s footprint across the country. Zippity offers repair, diagnostic, and detailing services to employees at its partner companies. The maintenance is done inside a self-contained trailer that allows Zippity to work on vehicles year-round in all weather conditions, the company says.

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