4 fast-growing Boston startups operating out of the CIC

by Justine Hofherr
December 16, 2016

There’s no way around it — office space in Boston is expensive.

A report from 2015 showed that strong employment gains and growing companies in need of additional space had driven office rents up by 7.6 percent across Greater Boston in the last year to an average of $32.53 per square foot, and there’s no sign of the boom ending anytime soon.

For early-stage startups, these rents can be untenable, especially in the ultra-expensive Kendall Square area. Instead, many tech companies are turning to coworking spaces (such as the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), WeWork and Workbar) where they can rent flexible spaces on a month-to-month basis, adding space as needed. Not only do these working arrangements help startups keep their budgets lean, but they also can provide companies with critical investor and networking relationships. We caught up with four startups to hear why they chose the CIC as their home.

 

Responses from Shayna Wilczynski, Senior Marketing Specialist

Tell us about your company. Who are you, what do you do, and why do you do it?

BookingBug maximizes engagement with your highest value customers through appointment booking. U.S. banks, retailers and government workers use it to connect, manage and measure the in-store experience, across the appointment lifecycle. For example, Apple created the experience of the Genius bar — book an appointment online, walk into the store at the dedicated time and the associate knows exactly why you're there and can immediately start a personalized conversation. Many companies do not have the resources or bandwidth to build a complex appointment solution like Apple and hundreds of companies use BookingBug to create a similar customer experience as Apple to maximize engagement.

What are you most excited about at your company for 2017?

2016 has been a year of enormous growth for the team, especially internationally — and we can already see this continuing into 2017 especially. As organizations continue to realize the value of getting closer to their most valuable customers, they need a partner like BookingBug to help them get there. We’re excited to see the growth of these rewarding customer experiences go from strength to strength, across the U.S. and across the world.

How many employees does your company have working at CIC? Why did you choose to locate at CIC?

BookingBug continues to expand our US headquarters into 2017 and we currently have 14 employees at the CIC. We evaluated many serviced office spaces in the Greater Boston area and it was essential to have office space flexibility to meet our rapidly expanding team. We wanted modular workspaces to fit all functions of our teams and a desirable location with restaurants and shops nearby. It was extremely important to provide our employees with a work environment that had the typical startup amenities and then some which CIC definitely offers — from the 40+ tea wall to a wide variety of networking and workshops offered on a weekly basis. CIC’s downtown location, easy access to public transport and overall value certainly stood out among other serviced office spaces in the area.

What amenities does CIC have that make it startup-friendly? What's your favorite hangout spot at CIC?

CIC has a never-ending supply of snacks for all snack lovers, whether you prefer to eat healthier options or need a chocolate fix. Our employees take advantage of the gym in the building which is a great feature of CIC for only $10 per month. The one major aspect of the CIC that we love is having conversations with like-minded individuals from diverse and interesting startups while grabbing an afternoon coffee from the shared kitchen. The 8th-floor tea wall is by far the best hangout spot and tends to have the best snack options.

Which fellow CIC startups do you expect big things from in 2017?

With so many diverse and promising startups in the CIC we couldn't possibly name one or two, but it's a community of robust startups with very diverse demographics and an extreme wealth of knowledge. We’re excited to see what 2017 brings for our fellow CICers.

 

Responses from Maggie Davis, Director of Sales Operations

Tell us about your company. Who are you, what do you do, and why do you do it?

Beco has developed a simple spatial analytics solution for buildings. The hardware/software system enables seamless large-scale deployments and is fluent with a suite of real-time “office apps” that promote user adoption and engagement.

A Beco integration can streamline many dimensions of the workplace: wayfinding, people finding, conference room booking, and more. To put it simply, buildings can interact with their occupants, and that data opens incredible value for operations and management. Digital-physical experience creates data that allows employers to craft a high-quality workplace environment, deliver concierge-style amenities, and make important management decisions like real estate allocation, staffing and collaboration strategy.

What are you most excited about at your company for 2017?

Growth. Some of the world’s largest companies are now running Beco and it’s exciting to see how rapidly the idea of work-as-an-experience is spreading throughout the industry.

Why did you choose to locate at CIC?

CIC is a clear choice for any startup — a flexible work environment supported by an incredibly helpful CIC team and with great amenities. Being downtown also helps us be close to many of our corporate customers and partners.

What amenities does CIC have that make it startup-friendly? What's your favorite hangout spot at CIC?

The unlimited coffee and snacks are two amenities heavily utilized by our team, plus the onsite gym keeps life simple. We are also big fans of the 18th-floor kitchen.

Which fellow CIC startups do you expect big things from in 2017?

Netra.io

 

Responses from Ramji Raghavan, CEO and Founder

Tell us about your company. Who are you, what do you do, and why do you do it?

Pragya is an education technology startup headquartered in CIC Cambridge. The company was launched at the end of 2012/early 2013 with a vision to bridge college learning and careers. It is led by a team that has built multiple venture funded startups and has deep experience in developing campus infrastructure. Pragya is backed by notable edtech investors including Jean Hammond, Roger Novak, John Katzman and University Ventures and a winner of the prestigious and competitive NSF SBIR grant.

Pragya’s Learning Streams is a machine learning powered cloud-based application that connects to and unlocks various campus silos and provides a single place for students to explore career choices and alumni pathways, discover courses, contacts, internships, clubs, events and other campus info — all in one place. Students can create their own personalized career pathway that can be shared and collaborated on with peers, mentors and advisors.

What are you most excited about at your company for 2017?

We are lucky to have collaborated with some of the best-known institutions in the world including MIT, Stanford, Northeastern, Kenyon College and Georgetown. We are looking forward to launching our SaaS solution to the broader market in 2017 — including some community colleges and international universities that we’re in discussions with. The other exciting step for Pragya is to get a couple of business (hopefully Boston-based!) looking to engage with and recruit college students on our platform.

How many employees does your company have working at CIC? Why did you choose to locate at CIC?

We have six employees (soon to be seven) working at CIC. We initially picked CIC almost four years ago because of its proximity to MIT, who was an early partner for us. As someone who has always leased dedicated office space in the suburbs for my prior startups, these were uncharted waters for me! Everyone in the team immediately fell in love with the vibrant, open environment that CIC offers and the sense of community it fosters. We haven’t left since then!

What amenities does CIC have that make it startup-friendly? What's your favorite hangout spot at CIC?

Access to all the basic infrastructure like internet, printing and high-quality conference rooms really allows a young startup to function like a mature company. We’ve never hesitated to invite customers over, since we never have to worry about looking “small.” Of course, the food and the ping pong table helps as well! I like the various areas around CIC where you can lounge in a sofa and work. The kitchen in 101 Main and the views of Boston are amazing.

Which fellow CIC startups do you expect big things from in 2017?

Hard to pick one or two. There are so many different kinds of startups ranging from a real cool travel app (RueBaRue) to predictive analytics in life sciences (nference) and healthcare (Zakipoint).

 

SolarWinds

Cecilia Pizzurro, Senior Director, Data Science

What are you most excited about at your company for 2017?

Big Data is a big area for 2017 all across the board in technology, and I am very happy to be at the center of it at SolarWinds. Having completed a series of acquisitions, I am excited about the challenges of bringing all that data together and building new product offerings around it.

Why did you choose to locate at CIC?

I did not choose it, it chose me, haha. Joking aside, I did have a competing job offer and I have to say that besides the prospect of working with my awesome team, it was this building and its vibrant community that swayed my decision. Where else would I get the chance to talk to various CEOs in different verticals on a daily basis?

What amenities does CIC have that make it startup-friendly?

CIC is basically a “move-in and go” facility. This allows you to just worry about the business rather than the tactical necessities that are frankly a distraction when you are trying to make your business grow.

What's your favorite hangout spot at CIC?

Most definitely the kitchen and common spaces in the 4th floor at One Broadway. They are a great space for connecting with people that otherwise you wouldn’t… and on a daily basis!

Which fellow CIC startups do you expect big things from in 2017?

Having founded my own startup in green mining (the actual mine industry), I am very excited to see what Transatomic does with carbon-free electricity generated by their molten salt reactors implementation. Any new ideas that are environmentally friendly and have the potential to change how the world operates are dear to my heart. Now, more than ever, I just don’t want them to succeed, we all need them to succeed.

 

Photos via Shutterstock

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