After sorting through thousands of applicants for its three-month accelerator program, TechStars Boston recently announced the 14 startups in its spring 2013 class. Now in its sixth class, TechStars Boston, has mentored companies like Localytics, Kinvey, and Memrise.
We recently got a chance to learn more about some of the startups in TechStars Boston’s current class. Here a few that really stood out.
CheckiO is a web-based game world in which you code in Python to advance your expertise in computer programming. In order to get to the next level, you need to write code and complete certain tasks.
The game is designed to teach you how to actually make programs, not just the basics, through problem solving. Since it’s geared toward more advanced programmers, you need to have some basic understanding of coding in order to play.
For example, you might be asked to build a program that runs Tetris.
The programming space is bustling with startups, given the likes of Codecademy, Treehouse, and Code School. That’s why CheckiO aims to complement, rather than compete against a site like Codecademy.
CheckiO is still in its early days, but more than 18,000 people have already registered for the service.
Constrvct essentially lets anyone become a fashion designer. The company is all about designing clothing for the digital age.
“Fashion, I think, is becoming more personal,” Constrvct co-founder Jenna Fizel tells Business Insider. “Not just our products, but eventually nearly anything you buy will be custom made to your preferences and shape. I think digital tools will become more and more common, and the experience of shopping will turn into one of co-creation.”
Constrvct works by letting people upload images to create a fabric design. It then creates an interactive, 3D model of the garment specific to your shape and size. Next, Constrvct custom prints the article of clothing, then cuts and sews each design. Eventually, they plan to let people sell their designs, created out of their own artwork, to the public.
Prices range from $125 for a t-shirt to $350 for a sheath dress.
“I think there’s lots of interesting stuff around hardware and software mixes and the fact that we can create and print things are fabulous and fun,” TechStars Managing Director Katie Rae told Business Insider in a recent interview. “One of our companies here, Constrvct, they’re right at the centre of fashion design, CAD (computer aided design), 3d printing, this whole messy, awesome world.”
Another startup working in this “messy, awesome world” is Freight Farms, which is literally a farm in a box. It transforms shipping containers into portable farms, and can be installed anywhere — parking lots, school playgrounds, rooftops, you name it.
The containers are insulated, water-tight, weatherproof, and aims to be more versatile and cost-effective than a traditional greenhouse. It makes fresh food accessible in places where the climate doesn’t support traditional farming methods. Freight Farms’ units can grow crops like lettuce, herbs, and fresh fungi. Users can remotely monitor and control the farming unit from a smartphone.
“We all think of communities and agriculture as being outside of the city, but maybe they’re inside the city now. How can that change how we eat? How accessible healthy food is? Could you lower the cost structure of healthy food?” Rae says. “And [Freight Farms is] all driven by software. It’s a hardware design driven by software. I love those messy edges that essentially change everything.”
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