MassVentures START Program RFP Opens Today, 3/1/16

March 1, 2016

Request for Proposals

For MassVentures START (SBIR TARgeted Technologies) Program Stage I Grants

MassVentures hereby invites all Massachusetts companies that meet the new, expanded eligibility criteria set forth below to submit applications to its START program for Stage I grants.

What is START?

START is a program funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to assist Massachusetts companies that have received at least the equivalent of a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (“SBIR”) or Small Business Technology Transfer (“STTR”) grant to commercialize their technologies. The program was created to assist high growth companies that will expand employment opportunities, promote manufacturing and commercialization, and stimulate innovation across the Commonwealth.

 Who is eligible?

Any Massachusetts company whose application to the program is not based on pharmaceutical, therapeutic or medical device technology and has received a Phase II SBIR.

We are pleased to announce that, for the first time, proposals based on clean energy, alternative energy and other energy technologies are eligible to apply for START.

There is no strict requirement about when the qualifying Phase II SBIR was received. However, if it was received prior to March 1, 2012, you should explain in your application why it remains commercially relevant today.

A “Massachusetts company” is one that conducts its research, development, manufacturing and commercialization primarily in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and for the purposes of this program commits to continuing to do so. It is expected that START funds will be spent primarily in Massachusetts.

How do I apply?

A detailed description of the application process is located at

When is the Deadline for Applications?

The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, April 4, 2016, at 12:00 pm EST.

How Do I Get More Information?

Many of your questions will be answered on our website, Please make sure to review the full START section, including our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you have further questions after reviewing these pages, please contact the START Program Manager, John Fitzpatrick, at   In addition, MassVentures will be conducting a conference call on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm at which potential applicants can ask us questions about the START Program and the Stage I application and selection process. The dial in information for that call is below:

When:             Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Call-in Info:    Dial in #862-902-0240; Pin #7551599

PDF Version of RFP

START Funding Eligibility Expands to Include Energy Technologies

MassVentures is pleased to announce that, for the first time, proposals based on clean energy, alternative energy and other energy technologies are eligible to apply for START! The 2016 START RFP will be available on March 1, 2016 at

The SBIR Targeted Technologies (START) program helps growing Massachusetts-based companies commercialize technologies developed under SBIR and STTR contracts. The START program plays an important role in powering Massachusetts’ Innovation Economy.

START is a program funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to assist Massachusetts companies that have previously secured SBIR Phase II funding in turning their technologies into promising commercialized solutions. The program was created to assist high-growth companies that will grow employment opportunities, promote manufacturing and commercialization, and stimulate innovation across the Commonwealth.

The primary objective of the program is to provide funding to commercialization-ready technology companies that have received at least the equivalent of a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (“SBIR”) or Small Business Technology Transfer (“STTR”) grant from federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, or the National Science Foundation, to name three.

Please see for more information.

MassVentures Backs Growth at Content Raven with Follow-on Investment

New Funding will Enable Content Raven to Meet Market Demands for Sales, Training and Entertainment & Media Solutions

MassVentures today announced a repeat investment in Content Raven, the leader in global secure content engagement.  Content Raven announced a 3x increase in revenue year-over-year, from 2014 to 2015. The growth is fueled by a strong increase in new enterprise customers of its secure content engagement solutions for sales, training and media and intellectual property creation. MassVentures, along with Nauta Capital responded to this increased market interest in Content Raven with new investments in the company. Content Raven will use the funding to rapidly scale its sales and marketing efforts.

“Every enterprise struggles to securely deliver up-to-date content and video around the globe, to any device. Content Raven’s Cloud-based solution solves that challenge universally,” said Joe Moriarty, CEO of Content Raven.  “Sales, training and entertainment & media departments in particular create large amounts of high-value content and have a specific need to share it easily and securely. MassVentures has been with us from the beginning and has recognized our successes. We are thrilled that they are continuing to support us with capital to more aggressively target these markets.”

“Our new investment in Content Raven is a result of the confidence we have in the leadership team and the company’s content engagement platform,” said Nick Pappas, vice president at MassVentures. “No other company has a solution this well-equipped to meet enterprise needs for secure, simple and effective sharing of content and video across multiple devices. We believe the company is well-positioned with its solution-focused strategy to continue its aggressive growth rates in the coming year.”

About Content Raven

Content Raven’s global, secure content engagement solution empowers enterprise sales, marketing, media production and corporate training organizations to safely deliver video, documents, and other content to any device, anywhere. The company’s cloud-based solution helps organizations manage, track, and analyze user engagement with content. Content Raven’s customers are some of the largest companies in the world, including EMC, Mondelez International and VMware. The company is recognized as a SBANE Innovation Award – Rising Star – 2014, and is on the Red Herring Top 100 North America Tech Startups List. The company is headquartered in Hopkinton, MA. Learn more at

First-time Founders Fuel Growing Boston Marketing-Tech Space with Funding from MassVentures

MassVentures, The State of Massachusetts’ VC arm, announced today that it has participated in the latest round of funding for Jebbit. The Boston-based company works with clients such as Dell, EMC and Reebok to more efficiently engage and convert potential consumers with interactive quizzes, content and more.

Jebbit’s solution requires no code integration and powers marketing goals like brand awareness, user acquisition, eCommerce sales, and lead generation with an interactive experience that overlays landing pages, videos, and other content. The questions incentivize consumers to learn more about the brand with a reward, such as a discount, and allow brands to collect valuable information about their audience.

“One of our focuses at MassVentures’ is to support promising, first-time entrepreneurs. Both Tom Coburn and Jonathan Lacoste are a perfect fit for us. Jebbit has been very successful in filling a real void for companies that need to better engage their customers post-click,” said Nick Pappas, Vice President, MassVentures. “The simplicity and versatility of the Jebbit platform is very exciting and we look forward to helping these exceptional entrepreneurs scale the business.”

Jebbit is the second investment MassVentures has made in the growing Massachusetts’ marketing/advertising technology space, following a previous investment in OwnerIQ. For an overview of the innovation happening in the local ad-tech and marketing-tech space, see the infographic that Jebbit created below.



“We are pleased with the progress we have made to date helping leading brands develop successful post-click marketing strategies. This added investment, along with the support and mentoring from Nick and the MassVentures’ team, will help drive momentum well into 2016,” adds Tom Coburn, Jebbit CEO and Founder.

MassVentures Invests in MachineMetrics to Support Advanced Manufacturing in Northampton, MA

We are pleased to announce that MassVentures has invested in MachineMetrics, a company that develops production monitoring software for the manufacturing industry. MachineMetrics, based in Northhampton, MA, addresses the need for manufacturing companies to have greater visibility into their production processes.

Long River Ventures, a firm managing more than $70 million in capital, led the round along with MassVentures. Since receiving the funding the team has doubled in size and plans are to remain in Northampton, MA. In addition, the funding will help MachineMetrics further accelerate its rapid development and growth trajectory.

“Massachusetts is committed to growing our statewide advanced manufacturing cluster,” said Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “Massachusetts manufacturing companies will continue to grow by having the capital available to invest in leading edge technology, equipment and their teams to ensure continued success.”

This is a testament to the MassVentures’ commitment to fueling innovative technology companies that are outside the perimeter of typical venture capital investments,” said Jennifer Jordan, Vice President of MassVentures. “By partnering with Long River Ventures and understanding the needs of entrepreneurs in the Pioneer Valley we are able to provide them the capital, connections and mentoring they need to prosper and excel here in Massachusetts.”

“Partnering with both local investors and the State of Massachusetts through MassVentures will provide us the capital and guidance to accelerate our momentum and help us support our growing customer base of small to mid-sized manufacturers,” concludes MachineMetrics CEO Bill Bither. “It is our goal to penetrate the local manufacturing community with MachineMetrics technology to provide them a competitive advantage and therefore help the entire Massachusetts manufacturing industry succeed.”

About MachineMetrics, Inc.
MachineMetrics, Inc. develops real-time production monitoring software for manufacturing companies. Headquartered in Northampton, Massachusetts, the company was founded by William Bither, Eric Fogg, and Jacob Lauzier in 2014. More information can be found on the company’s website,

MassVentures-backed TerraTherm Acquired by Cascade Drilling

Successful exit to help spur new investments across the Commonwealth

We are pleased to announce that MassVentures-backed TerraTherm has been acquired by Cascade Drilling. With the acquisition, the Gardner MA-based company will deliver thermal remediation technologies more broadly and launch organizational and technological advancement to better serve its clients.

MassVentures has established a track record of successfully funding innovative technology companies in Massachusetts that are not adequately served by the venture community, including companies located statewide, “outside the box” industries and first time CEOs and/or founders. Gains realized from this investment will in part be used to further fuel the technology industry and economic development across the Commonwealth.

“The team at TerraTherm is a fantastic example of what Massachusetts-based entrepreneurs can accomplish when working hard and utilizing the resources available to them in the community,” said Nick Pappas, Vice President of MassVentures. “Congratulations to the entire team, their hard work and persistence delivered a great outcome!”

“We didn’t reach this milestone alone. From the beginning, as first-time entrepreneurs, MassVentures provided us with not only the financial backing but with the advice, connections and the guidance needed to succeed in the emerging market of thermal remediation technologies. They were an invaluable resource that remained patient as we scaled the organization.  We can’t thank them enough as we move to the next stage of growth,” concludes John Bierschenk, CEO and President of TerraTherm.

MassVentures Awards $1M to 2015 START Stage III Program Winners

START Program Spurs Growth for Winners 
Boston Engineering and Metamagnetics 
MassVentures announced today the 2015 START Stage III program winners. Each company has received $500,000 to help grow employment opportunities, promote manufacturing and commercialization, and stimulate innovation across the Commonwealth. The winners of the Stage III awards are:
Boston Engineering
Boston Engineering is a product development and engineering consulting company that is using its START funds to commercialize its underwater vehicle technology, including the BIOSwimmer™. Boston Engineering’s unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) systems replicate the dynamics of a biological fish to move rapidly and accurately in areas inaccessible by other vehicles for operations including port security, and underwater search and inspection. Waltham, MA.
Metamagnetics develops and markets leading-edge commercial and defense electronic products. It is using its START funds to deploy cost-effective, self-biased ferrite circulators, which reduce electromagnetic interference in dense communication and sensing environments. Canton, MA.
START is a $3 million annual State initiative administered by MassVentures to help growing Massachusetts-based companies commercialize technologies developed under Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contracts.
During the past three years, Boston Engineering has increased its revenues 52% and has expanded its workforce 22%. START funds contribute to Boston Engineering’s outside investment of $7 million to help commercialize its underwater technology. Over the past 4 years, Metamagnetics has grown revenues by 60%, increased employment by 140% and leverages their START funds into $2,470,000 in additional outside capital.
“Boston Engineering thrives on solving client challenges and making a difference in the way that people work and live. It’s through programs such as START that we can take our creative ideas and bring them through to commercialization,” said Mark Smithers, CTO of Boston Engineering. “We’re very thankful to MassVentures for this funding, recognition, and the expertise they have provided to help scale our technology during the past three years.”
“We are focused on enhancing the performance and driving down the cost of critical sensing, Earth science and communication systems. Remaining focused on our technology and scaling the company can only happen when you have the right mentoring and guidance surrounding you,” comments Anton Geiler, President of Metamagnetics. “In addition to the funding, MassVentures has provided just the right amount of support and guidance to help us scale and thrive.  We look forward to the continued partnership.”
“The START program is a significant recognition. For the past four years, Boston Engineering and Metamagnetics competed against some of the most promising companies in Massachusetts,” said Jerry Bird, President of MassVentures. “This award is a testament to not only the technology they have created but the business opportunity ahead for each of them.”
For more details on the program, eligibility requirements and the application and granting process for 2016, please visit our website.

MassVentures Jumps in to Support BoardOnTrack

MassVentures announced it participated in a $1.7 million seed round in BoardOnTrack. The finance round included MassVentures, Launch Capital, Hub NY and Cherrystone Angel group. BoardOnTrack, founded by a strong management team with significant start-up and consulting expertise, has developed a web-based, cost-effective and convenient way to build and optimize charter school boards using a data-driven approach.

BoardOnTrack is from the inaugural class of Constant Contact’s new small businessInnoLoft, an accelerator focused on small business innovations. It was here that BoardOnTrack refined its business and prepared itself for scalable growth.  “It’s a great time to be part of the Boston tech ecosystem. We started in Constant Contact’s InnoLoft where we positioned ourselves for growth and have since formed a strong partnership with MassVentures,” said Marci Cornell-Feist, Chief Executive Officer at BoardOnTrack. “With both the financial and knowledge support we have received to date, we can now focus on growing our product offerings and broadening our position in the market. We’re thankful for the funding and expertise that the MassVentures’ team has provided.”

 BoardOnTrack enables volunteers to work strategically and efficiently to transform charter schools and non-profit organizations across the country. Utilizing BoardOnTrack’s web-based tools, boards are able to develop goals and track accountability, optimize board performance, monitor progress and assess accomplishments at year end.

“After a thorough market analysis, it was quite clear that BoardOnTrack’s comprehensive, data-driven solution was filling a real need in the market, and is a key component in optimizing board performance,” said Nick Pappas, Vice President at MassVentures.  “Marci and her team have demonstrated domain knowledge that is unparalleled in the industry and are poised to scale BoardOnTrack.  We look forward to supporting their continued success.”

Ginkgo Bioworks Secures $45 Million to Support Next Stage of Growth

Ginkgo Bioworks announced that it has raised $45 million in an oversubscribed Series B round. Ginkgo Bioworks is at the intersection of industrial design and biology, delivering designer organisms built to specification for customers. The company specializes in engineering microbes to produce cultured ingredients such as flavors, fragrances, cosmetics and sweeteners. The latest round of funding will be used to expand to new product categories and build out the next phase of its state-of-the-art foundry in Boston.

Ginkgo Bioworks first received local funding from the MassVentures’ START program which supports the commercialization of Massachusetts-based companies developed under SBIR contracts. The company continued to demonstrate growth against its objectives, and over the next two years received additional START funds.  Recently, MassVentures invested in Ginkgo Bioworks’ first round of equity financing via its Traditional Fund to capitalize on these SBIR and START funds.

“The most recent round of funding clearly demonstrates the success of the START program,” commented Jerry Bird, President of MassVentures.  “The START funding in addition to the funds received from the MassVentures traditional fund, provided the company the chance to commercialize its technology and ready itself for significant growth and funding. We are pleased to see the progress the team at Ginkgo Bioworks has made in this exciting and critical new industry and look forward to its continued success in the burgeoning Massachusetts biotech industry.”

Viking Global, a firm managing more than $30 billion in capital, led the round along with previous investors including OS Fund, Y Combinator and Felicis Ventures. The new funds will be used to expand into new categories such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and probiotics, as well as hire additional employees and build out Bioworks 2, the next generation of Ginkgo’s robotic Foundry.

“MassVentures has been with us from the start, arming us with the capital, experience, mentoring and network to help our transition to a high-growth company,” said Reshma Shetty, Co-founder at Ginkgo Bioworks. “The START program is critical for SBIR-funded companies that need this type of support to move from a research-driven company to commercialization. We thank them for their support and expect a fruitful partnership moving forward.”

Women Thriving in Tech

The START program is a nationally-recognized, Massachusetts-based, unique feeder system that helps SBIR companies capitalize on their SBIR funds and arm them with the capital, experience, mentoring and networks they need to transition to high-growth companies in Massachusetts.  It has provided a diverse group of 40 high-tech projects with $9 million and the resources and guidance they need to reach their potential and enjoy sustained growth.  Our goal is to provide a supportive and productive environment in which these companies can thrive.

In the recent announcement highlighting this year’s winners, a photo was taken of the winners.  It was obvious when we looked back on the photo that something was missing.  The program is diverse in the industries it funds and its ability to reach companies often overlooked by the VC community. Nine of the 40 START projects to date have women on their founding or executive teams – 22.5% of the START winners.  Nonetheless, the photo is an epic fail in terms of reflecting this diversity.

Take a look. You guessed it, not a single women in the photo.

2015 winners






We tweeted out the announcement and we had some feedback:

@beclarke: Is this just an unfortunate photo op or are there really no women getting funding from @massventures? #allmale…

@jason_muth: Not a single woman in this photo. Embarrassing. @BostInno @DianeHessan ‘s words from #BOSSOI never more true……

We wanted to reply to these tweets not to defend our position but to lend another show of support for more women in technology and what we all can do to make a difference.  One way of doing this is to highlight some of the women in tech not necessarily well known on the speaker circuit that are kicking butt at what they do.

With regards to the START program, we will keep working toward improving the 22.5%.  In the meantime, there were some women that were missing from the photo.  Let’s take a look at some of these rockstars:

Karen Benedek Among the 2015 START Stage I $100,000 winners, Karen Benedek is the owner of Primaira.  She has mechanical engineering degrees out of both Stanford and MIT.  She advises companies and government agencies on strategic, market, and technology issues related to new product development. Her experience is in the application of advanced technologies to achieve safety and reliability enhancements, performance improvement, environmental benefits, and energy-use reduction. Karen is an inventor with multiple patents, the most recent of which provides an apparatus and method of treating impurities in air and materials.  This unique Bluezone® Technology is already being used to keep foods and flowers fresh in transit and now Primaria will use the START award to develop an air purifier for the Chinese market built on Bluezone®.


For the past 3 years, Melissa May has been the VP of Strategic Development at Waltham-based NetBio.  The company was founded based on pioneering research performed at MIT’s Whitehead Institute. Melissa joined NetBio from MIT Lincoln Labs where she managed the competitive ANDE Research and Development contract awarded to NetBio by the Federal Government and worked closely with NetBio on the development of the ANDE Rapid DNA Analysis System.  In her previously position as Senior Director under the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, she was responsible for assessing new and emerging technologies and providing strategic guidance on the investment of the Department of Defense’s $25 B Research and Development budget. Melissa combines her deep technical knowledge with her passion to transition NetBio’s portable Rapid DNA Analysis System to the places where it is most needed, whether that is mass disaster events, counter terrorism actives, homeland security, or law enforcement booking stations to enable police to rapidly generate DNA profiles and search them against unsolved crimes while an arrestee is in custody.  Her insight and strategic approach to the market helped NetBio win its $200,000 START Stage II award this year and its Stage I award in 2014.


Reshma Shetty (@reshmapshetty) is a co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks who received a Stage I and III START award and recently received funding from MassVentures as part of a Series A round. A researcher out of MIT, Reshma has helped build the world’s first organism engineering foundry: Bioworks1.  Reshma is a rising star in Massachusetts’ burgeoning life science industry.  In 2008, Forbes magazine named Shetty one of Eight People Inventing the Future and in 2011, Fast Company named her one of 100 Most Creative People in Business.  Ginkgo Bioworks was Y Combinator’s first biotech company.  At Ginkgo, she is a jack-of-all-trades, managing Ginkgo’s operations and finances since inception of the company.


Rajini Arajininachi is the CEO of mZeal Communications in Littleton, MA.  She is passionate about solving hard problems to make our digital age lives more secure. Rajini founded mZeal to create technologies that mimic cognitive faculty of our mind.  The federal government including USTranscom, the Intelligence community, and the US Army and Airforce Materiel commands have already adopted her technology.  Now she is focused on business strategy and creating new growth opportunities for mZeal in the commercial market with the help of her START Stage I and Stage II awards.

It’s been our pleasure to help these four women grow their businesses and watching them succeed.  They each have an amazing story that deserves to be heard. We would like to hear from you on women you think deserve to be credited with helping to build a vibrant tech ecosystem here in Massachusetts.  With many baby steps, we can create a diverse, creative environment in which we all benefit.