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The Innovation Economy Awards, TechStars edition

Posted by Scott Kirsner  May 3, 2012 05:59 PM

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My comprehensive report on this spring's TechStars demo day is here... but as is my habit, I also wanted to single out a few individuals and teams for Innovation Economy awards. They receive no monetary prize, crystal paperweight, or certificate suitable for framing — just the warm glow of being mentioned on this blog.

Boston's Most Impressive New CEO
Yifan Zhang of Pact, which has developed a mobile app that uses behavioral economics to motivate people to go to the gym. Not just for a masterful presentation today, but Zhang has built strong momentum for the company leading up to today.

psykosoft.jpgTeam on a Mission
The French fellows building Psykosoft want to make it easier for anyone to create digital artwork, animation, and music. In today's presentation, they playfully tweaked tech giant Adobe for offering pricey software (like Photoshop) that's hard to learn; their mission is to make it enjoyable and fast for anyone to start creating cool stuff online. The team has a great attitude and a fun marketing message: "We believe everybody is a bit crazy, but not everyone accepts it." (That's the Psykosoft team hard at work in the photo at right.)

The Making Cities More Liveable award
Zagster, a company founded in Philadelphia that relocated to Cambridge earlier this year. The startup wants to make it easy for colleges, hotels, and corporate campuses to offer fleets of bikes for hourly or daily use. And more bike riders is an excellent thing for any city.

Most Compelling Presentation
Chris Howard of Libboo, who's out to reinvent the publishing business for the digital age. He talked about his company's mission of finding more readers for e-books by poets like Marshall "Soulful" Jones... and had Jones recite one of his electrifying poems to begin the presentation.

The Gotta Download It Now award
UberSense chief executive Krishna Ramchandran made me want to buy one of the company's mobile apps on the spot. They allow you to shoot video of your golf, tennis, or baseball swing, for instance, and then pay $10 to have a coach analyze what you could improve. You can also watch your video side-by-side with that of a pro to observe the differences.

The Biggest Surprise award
Laveem, which started out the TechStars program focusing on building an online community to help teachers share lesson plans and classroom resources. Now, they're working on the Food Genome Project, a vast database of nutritional information that could help site builders and mobile app developers create useful new tools for cooks and diners. Great concept.

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched 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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More from Scott


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.