While Silicon Valley remains the epicenter of the tech startup ecosystem, Boston has unmistakably established its own unique identity and there will be a lot of local startups to look out for in the year ahead. From biotech and healthcare to artificial intelligence, Boston has not only thrived but has also become a compelling force – even the cybersecurity industry has been taken by storm, and don’t just take it from us! According to .406 Ventures partner Greg Dracon:“If I were to start a cybersecurity company, there’s no place in the world I would start it other than Boston.” Naturally, there are no shortage of top B2B startups in Boston today.
“If I were to start a cybersecurity company, there’s no place in the world I would start it other than Boston.”
Boston’s thriving startup ecosystem may not be a revelation, considering recent data from PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor placed Massachusetts ahead of California as the top-ranked state for the business environment, while both Massachusetts and California are tied for #1 in venture capital. Boston indeed has unique characteristics that make these rankings possible, and they are well documented. It’s a city with tremendous universities that send out immense talent at an unprecedented rate, even when compared to other well-known talent conductors like New York City and San Francisco. It’s undoubtedly one reason why we at BMV set up shop in Boston, and it’s our namesake.
Yet, acknowledging Boston’s success only tells part of the story. The city has faced and overcome substantial challenges, particularly in the face of record inflation and increasing interest rates in 2023. This economic landscape created a period of uncertainty that affected both startups and venture capitalists. But after taking a closer look at Pitchbook’s data, while deal volume has declined, investments were substantial – just in fewer rounds. There is no doubt this positions many Boston startups for scaling in the year ahead, and today, we’re going to dive into the top B2B startups in Boston we think may take off in 2024.
Individually, data and artificial intelligence are two themes that continue to dominate boardroom conversations as enterprises look to harness the power of both. Then along came Akkio, a software development company out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, that sought to harness the combined power of data and AI to help deliver faster and more accurate business insights.
Founded in 2019, the startup offers generative AI for analytics and a predictive modeling platform that gives digital agencies a competitive edge, helping to generate new revenue, add more client value, and improve productivity. According to the Akkio team, “AI is the future, and the future belongs to everyone.” Akkio delivers on its promise by essentially democratizing access to AI so the ability to generate critical insights through this technology is not limited to a handful of large enterprises.
This year, Akkio managed to close a $15M Series A round with participation from Bain Capital Ventures (BCV) and Pandome, Inc. They also released updates to their platform, including a chatbot with generative AI that allows secure data exploration, pattern identification, and reporting on business outcomes 10x faster than traditional methods.
Financial barriers continue to impact the quality of life for people globally. However, when people and financial institutions all over the globe are able to align around efficient cross-border payments, the possibilities are wide open, and money is able to reach new places faster and more efficiently than ever.
And sitting in between people and financial institutions is Almond FinTech, a blockchain-based funds transfer network built to remove the barriers between bank customers and money through borderless financial technology, leading to better lives with fewer limits. Almond delivers on this mission through their settlement optimization engine (SOE), which selects the best possible rates and provides near-instant settlements for financial institutions globally. Additionally, the startup uses a combination of psychometric and financial data to provide fast, low-risk, ethical loans to communities with unconventional or limited credit histories.
Throughout 2023, Almond has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, less than two months ago, Almond announced a new funding milestone of $7 million, which will help broaden the company’s rapidly expanding network in Asia, the Americas, and Africa while reinforcing their commitment to making financial services affordable and accessible to people everywhere.
In almost any industry, predicting business trends and building reliable models is paramount to gaining an edge over the competition. However, according to Boston-based data solutions leader APERIO, industrial companies that rely on poor data will inevitably produce models, outcomes, and results that are fundamentally flawed. To put it in the words of the APERIO team, if you put garbage in, you’re going to get garbage out. Powered by AI machine learning, APERIO’s tools and approach tackle data-quality issues at scale, enabling manufacturers to improve their operational technology, data infrastructure, and governance. Additionally, manufacturing leaders are able to make smarter business decisions based on real-time, trusted, superior data.
APERIO’s innovation ultimately caught the attention of Momenta, the Industrial Impact venture capital + growth firm, which led a $9M Series A1 funding round alongside investors, including Chevron Technology Ventures, National Grid Partners, Delek US, and Bazan Group. The funding will add additional features aimed at helping APERIO scale to meet customer demand.
In the words of famed technologist Ray Ozzie, who is now also the CEO and founder of Blue Wireless, “Complexity kills.” As such, Ozzie looked to IoT technology as a possible solution to bypassing the complexity that comes along with building connected products. Blues helps businesses and governments worldwide confidently create reliable and innovative connectivity solutions that deliver measurable value using IoT-driven data intelligence.
With Blues, customers can easily send and receive information to and from any device, anywhere, and at any time, improving business operations while reducing costs. The company hangs its hat on its flagship products, Notecard and Notehub, which were designed to solve the most significant challenges associated with IoT connectivity. They also allow businesses to connect their physical products to the cloud via cellular without facing complex developmental challenges and hefty price tags.
Investors have clearly seen the value in Blues’ IoT solutions as the startup was able to raise a whopping $32M in a Series A funding round led by Positive Sum, with participation from Four Rivers, Northgate, Qualcomm, Sequoia, Cascade, Lachy Groom and XYZ. To date, over 900 companies are improving operational efficiency, gaining behavioral insights, and enhancing customer experiences with Blues.
Although many organizations are guilty of testing “some” of their assets “some of the time,” a prudent group of Red Teamers & Security Researchers discovered that hackers are attacking assets all of the time. This group of cybersecurity experts would then go on to establish FireCompass, a Boston-based cybersecurity company that offers a SaaS platform for Continuous Automated Red Teaming and Attack Surface Management.
FireCompass constantly indexes and monitors the deep, dark, and surface webs in order to map an organization’s digital attack surface, including Shadow IT blind spots. The platform then launches safe multi-stage attacks that mimic an actual attacker in order to identify attack paths before hackers ever get the chance quickly. And while FireCompass is fully capable of providing continuous and proactive security, its platform eliminates the need for multiple tools and significant manual effort.
The top three telecom companies are currently using the product, the top three IT companies, major banks/financial services companies, and others from a variety of industries. In addition to these partnerships, FireCompass has built a solid amount of credibility, leading to interest from investors like Athera Venture Partners and Cervin Ventures.
While remote work remains a distant memory for some companies, others have adopted a hybrid schedule or fully embraced a remote model. But regardless of the working arrangement, creating a vibrant workplace culture is crucial for employee engagement, whether in a digital or in-person setting.
HelloTeam takes on this challenge by empowering every employee to connect with and contribute to their culture wherever they are located. This approach not only enhances employee retention but also boosts the efficiency of HR teams and managers, creating a more productive and connected work environment.
If you’re a small company, you may very well be under the impression that an HR team is a luxury or simply a department that can be delegated to a single employee simply for the sake of having the role filled. Realizing how this lean strategy can negatively impact small businesses, HelloTeam emerged as an expert partner that can support the organizational vision, strategy, and objectives with the goal of building a positive, motivated, and engaged team to fulfill these objectives.
HelloTeam’s momentum cannot be understated; just last year, the company was able to triple its revenue while more than doubling its user base. Furthermore, earlier this year, Paychex founder Tom Golisano and his investment firm Grand Oaks Capital felt that HelloTeam was a company that deserved a shot at the next level. This interest eventually led to a successful Series A funding round, allowing HelloTeam to secure $10M.
We previously discussed the importance of relying on high-quality data, but now we’re going to look at a startup that enables data engineers to assess their data so they know when things break, understand how this impacts other systems, and are able to debug root causes. Y-Combinator-backed Metaplane seeks to help companies trust their data and prevent data incidents before they ever happen.
The startup was founded in 2020 by MIT graduate Kevin Hu, the company’s CEO, former HubSpot engineer Peter Casinelli, and ex-Appcues Inc. developer Guru Mahendran. Initially, Metaplane was designed to be a customer success platform that analyzed companies’ data in order to prevent churn. However, after going through Y Combinator’s accelerator program, the Metaplane team realized that its talents were more suited for developing data analytics tools, and the company pivoted to deliver this solution.
To date, Metaplane has helped more than 140 companies with their data observability tools, allowing those companies to identify data quality and, in some cases, analyze company spending patterns and understand how data is being used within their organizations.
After discussing how Metaplane is improving confidence in data, now would be a good time to pivot to a startup that’s improving confidence in AI. Founded in 2019, Monitaur is a Boston-based software company that provides auditability, transparency, and governance for companies that utilize machine learning software. For companies using AI to make regulated decisions that affect people’s lives, such as the insurance industry, Monitaur’s ML Assurance software secures transparency.
Ultimately, Monitaur seeks to make people’s lives better, according to the company’s CEO and Co-Founder, Anthony Habayeb. And with artificial intelligence under the microscope of regulators like never before, Monitaur’s software solution has gone on to raise eyebrows among investors like Cultivation Capital, Rockmont Partners, Presidio Ventures, Plug and Play, and Studio VC.
Over the last few years, Boston has been the home to some of the most groundbreaking robotics companies, with enterprises like iRobot and Boston Dynamics leading the way in innovation. While these companies are certainly getting attention from the media, Boston-based Realtime Robotics has garnered lots of attention from investors. By securing $57M in total funds raised and working alongside partners like BMW, Siemens, and Kawasaki, Realtime has been able to cement itself as a key player in the industrial automation industry.
Driving Realtime’s success has been their RapidPlan processor, which harnesses cutting-edge computer processing and software to end the trade-off between speed and safety that’s holding automation back today. The robotics startup makes this possible by enabling machines to recognize, respond, and decide how and where to move in milliseconds. This allows manufacturers to retain all the advantages of speed and safety without their mutually exclusive drawbacks.
In other words, Realtime gives machines a brain. They also sweeten the pot by allowing manufacturers to bypass costly manual programming by providing their unique Optimization-as-a-Service, thus producing more accurate product cycle requirements.
So far, we’ve discussed robots and cybercrime defense solutions, but now we’re going to discuss something really cool: minerals! If the topic underwhelms you, then perhaps you don’t truly understand how essential mineral excavation is for some of the most incredible products we have today. To put it into context, without minerals, there’d be no such thing as a Tesla or an iPhone.
Unfortunately, most of the underexplored parts of known mining jurisdictions are covered, and current exploration methods will no longer be fit for purpose. In fact, only 1 in 1,000 exploration projects become a mine. So how is mankind able to keep up with such high demand despite such little supply? Insert VerAI, an AI-based mineral asset generator designed to disrupt mineral exploration by dramatically improving the probability of discovering mineral deposits, shortening the targeting time from years to months, and reducing the targeting costs by over 90%.
VerAI deploys a novel proprietary AI/ML Discovery Platform that detects concealed mineral deposits in underexplored covered terrains. Their platform utilizes tailor-made datasets relevant to the challenge of exploring undercover to directly identify, with high probability, the location of economic mineral deposits while working with different commodity styles and in different geological jurisdictions.
Back in March, the Boston-based startup announced it completed a $12M Series A funding round, including funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., and other investors Orion Resource Partners, Chrysalix Venture Capital, and Blumberg Capital.
As we navigate the promise of Boston’s B2B startup scene in 2024, the stories of innovation, resilience, and growth unfold like a compelling narrative. These ten startups, each with their unique approach and impact, are not just fueling the city’s entrepreneurial spirit; they’re setting the stage for transformative changes across industries in the year ahead.