Boston Tech Watch: LearnLaunch, Starry, Bodeswell, HqO & Pillo
A wave of funding crashed on Boston startups this week, as well as a major acquisition of a cybersecurity and threat intelligence company. Read on for more of this week’s Boston-area tech news.
—Kytopen, a Cambridge, MA-based technology company engineering testing and manufacturing systems for cell therapy, raised $3.6 million in seed funding from MIT’s venture fund The Engine, Horizon Ventures, and angel investors. The startup, which spun out of MIT in 2017, is seeking to commercialize tools to accelerate the development of gene-modified cell therapies. Kytopen was one of the first seven startups The Engine invested in after launching in 2016 with a $200 million fund.
—Boston startup Indico has raised about $4.1 million as part of a equity funding round that could top out at $6 million, according to an SEC filing. The company uses artificial intelligence to analyze unstructured data in texts, photos and documents for businesses. Indico, led by CEO Tom Wilde since September 2017, last reported new funding when it raised more than $4 million in January 2018. Indico says the first set of investors in the round have closed and it expects to complete the rest in the next 60 days or so.
—Openly, a Boston homeowners insurance startup, has raised $7.7 million from investors, according to a regulatory filing. The company was founded in 2017 by Ty Harris, a former Liberty Mutual product executive, and Matt Wielbut, a former Goldman Sachs engineering executive. Xconomy has reached out to Openly about the filing, and we’ll provide an update if we learn any new and significant details.
—Pillo Health, a Boston startup developing voice-enabled home healthcare tools, has raised an $11 million Series A funding round led by the venture arm of tool- and hardware-maker Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE: SWK). Samsung Ventures also joined the round, as did previous investors BioAdvance, Hikma Ventures, Hackensack Meridien Health System’s Innovation Center Fund, and Civilization Ventures. Pillo is developing voice-powered technology to bring health-focused technologies into patients’ homes. Stanley and Pillo jointly developed a Pria home health care robot that dispenses medication. Pillo says Pria will be available online to consumers in the late summer.
—Commercial real estate startup HqO has raised $6 million in a funding round that included Boston. Celtics co-owners and Bain Capital co-chair Steve Pagliuca, Morningside Group co-founder Gerald Chan, Boston Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy, Boston Red Sox partner Mike Gordon, real estate developer New England Development, the law firm Goodwin, DivcoWest, and Allegion Ventures. HqO’s technology helps commercial real estate landlords manage perks and services for tenants in their properties. The startup hired Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s former chief of staff Dan Koh after his failed bid to receive the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts’ Third Congressional District.
—A new financial planning startup is launching in Boston. Former Yesware CEO Matthew Bellows and former TripAdvisor engineering VP Bernard Bernstein have launched Bodeswell, a software that will track budgets and investments as they relate to users’ financial milestones: buying a home, investing in a child’s college fund, paying for a child’s wedding, or saving seed money to start a business.
—Recorded Future is being acquired by private equity firm Insight Partners in a $780 million deal. The firm bought out Recorded Future’s earlier investors and infused the cyber-threat intelligence startup, which had raised $58 million prior to the deal, with a bit more cash.
—Former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift has joined education technology nonprofit and startup accelerator LearnLaunch as its next president and executive director. Swift, also a former state senator and lieutenant governor, had long advocated for policies that have helped Massachusetts become a top-ranked state for education. Swift also serves on the boards of study abroad company Academic Programs International and School of Leadership Afghanistan, an all-girls boarding school in Kabul.
—Boston wireless internet service provider Starry has proposed a data privacy bill of rights to federal regulators in the midst of hearings over how to police technology companies and their harvesting, use, sale, and holding of personal data. Starry’s argues for providing transparency to what exactly technology companies are using personal data for and what they do with it or who they sell it to. It advocates that all personal information should be equally protected; disclosure of the use of personal information is mandatory; permission to collect personal information is required; collection of personal information should be minimized; and it should be a right for users to know what info a certain company has on them.