Boston’s Quiet Startups About to Make Noise: Take the Interview, Open Mile, Locately, and More

2/17/11Follow @gthuang

I generally hate cocktail parties, but the one at Cambridge, MA-based Performable on Tuesday night was pretty good (you can see some photos here). Not that many VCs were there, which was just as well, because I got to meet tons of entrepreneurs from Boston and beyond, all working on interesting startups.

Plus, who knew that Performable had hired Andrew Bialecki, the son of Greg Bialecki, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, as a developer? (I met them both at the party and I’d say it’s a smart move, Performable.)

At such gatherings, and elsewhere, I’ve been hearing about lots of interesting Boston-area tech startups—some still in stealth, others not. Let’s call these “quiet startups.” In any case, they’re early-stage but won’t stay quiet for long. Some of them might not want the attention yet, but hey, that’s my job: Dig up the news and write about it here.

So here are five startups I’ve been hearing about:

Take the Interview, led by founder and CEO Danielle Weinblatt, a former private equity associate and investment banking analyst (and current MBA student at Harvard Business School). This company has scored angel financing and is already gaining some traction. The idea is a Web-based video interviewing system for employers and job seekers—basically trying to make the recruiting process more efficient by screening more candidates before doing in-person interviews. My colleague Wade wrote about a similar-sounding Y Combinator startup last summer called HireHive; that company is now defunct, though I’m not quite sure what happened.

Open Mile, led by Evan Schumacher, the former CEO of Going.com (and a few other tech startups). This company got money about a year ago from Charles River Ventures, and is using Web and mobile technologies to help shipping companies like UPS and FedEx match up supply and demand in an effective and economical way.

Loom Décor (co-led by Jessa McIntosh) and CustomMade (led by Mike Salguero). These two are in honor of the recent activity around town in “mass customization,” which may start to redefine some segments of e-commerce. Loom Décor hasn’t quite launched yet, but it seems to focus on fabrics and home furnishings. More importantly, it is a Boston company masquerading as a New York company, but we know better (the founders come from BU and MIT Sloan). Meanwhile, CustomMade is based in Kendall Square, has quietly grown to 27 employees, and focuses on selling a wide variety of furniture, displays, jewelry, and other items.

Locately, led by Thaddeus Fulford-Jones, Eric Weiss, and Drew Volpe. This location-based mobile tech startup is roughly following Compete.com’s business model—sell competitive insights to businesses through subscriptions. I recently spoke with Volpe, who said, “We think location analytics will become like Web analytics. We think there’s a huge company here. Our goal is to get there first, build really great technology, and build a great company.” (Volpe will be speaking in the “location smackdown” portion of Xconomy’s Mobile Madness event on March 9.)

Locately’s goal applies to all of the above startups, I suppose. We’ll be watching closely to see what happens.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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