Trailblazer Aquatic makes such an unusual product that it usually provokes strange reactions from people.
The company makes treadmills that are lowered into large tanks of water and are used to rehab injured dogs. Founder Marian Macartney was demonstrating how the treadmill works at Mass Innovation Nights, a showcase for startups that held its most recent monthly meeting at the Boston Globe Wednesday.
As she was playing a video showing a small brown and white dog being lowered on a platform into the tank, a passerby stopped to take the scene in.
“That dog does not look happy,” the woman quipped, before moving on.
Trailblazer was just one of several companies with unusual products on display at Mass Innovation Nights, which was hosted by the Hive and drew a crowd of several hundred.
Four firms, voted crowd favorites, were given the opportunity to present before the audience: Sudbury-based Mariwear, which sells women’s loungewear and sleepwear with built-in support; ProfitBricks, a German firm that recently opened up a Boston headquarters to compete against Amazon in the cloud computing space; Landing Page Builder, which helps companies with effective web marketing; and SnapHop, which makes a new tool for job hunting on mobile devices.
“How many events do you go from cloud computing to lingerie?” said Alex Coté, co-founder of Cambridge-based Cloze while surveying the event.
Meanwhile, Macartney was hoping to catch interest from an angel investor to help bankroll her firm’s production of underwater treadmills. The treadmills, which are made in Warwick, RI, retail for about $42,000, and the company had made their first sale to a veterinary clinic in California.
“Rehabilitation is the fastest growing specialty in veterinary medicine today,” Macartney said.
But she also mused she might have better luck finding investors from the Midwest, because they often have more experience in animal care industries and can provide experience and connections as well as money.
Mukhtar H. Mohamed was also looking for funding for his start-up, ItsMyURLs.com.
The business creates personalized digital calling card pages, has had a few deals with traditional business-card manufacturers and gained high-profile users Serena Williams and Lil Jon. But after quitting their jobs six months ago to focus on the new enterprise Mohamed said he and his cofounders urgently need to find investors. So far, though, they haven’t found locals willing to back them, although investors in California and New York have shown interest.
“We want to remain in Boston,” Mohamed said. “But we have to make a choice: Wait and stick around, or leave.”
At the center of the networking event was Bobbie Carlton, founder of Mass Innovation Nights and Carlton PR & Marketing and a familiar face at entrepreneurship events. Many of the founders at the Globe event Wednesday had a similar story about Carlton: Macartney had bumped into her recently at women’s entrepreneurship conference, and Carlton corralled her into presenting. Executives from SnapHop had worked with her during their early days while exploring another product. On Wednesday she was again using her networking skills to spread the word about SnapHop’s new business approach.
Another new company presenting at the Globe event was 42stats, which provides workplace analytics to businesses. Chief executive Dinyar Mistry moved the company from New York to Boston this year to participate in the MassChallenge competition for startups, and received free office space and mentoring.
“The start-up community [in Boston] is smaller, friendlier, a little tighter. New York is style driven,” Mistry said. “We’ve gone from having zero network here to having access to every investor and expert in our area.”
Editor’s Note: This posted was updated on Dec. 17, 2012 to correct the home country of ProfitBricks.