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Summary from MassInno9 and WebInno24

December 10, 2009 2 comments

November’s been a good  month for tech events, with everyone eager to get some last-minute buzz before the Holidays.

Two of this week’s best events: the last 2009 meetups of the Web Innovators Group, and Mass Innovation Nights. Both, as usual had some startups present their products in front of an audience, and others show table-top demos.

My favorite companies at WebInno were Blank Label, mass customizers of shirts and ThredUP – a used clothing Exchange Service.

Blank Label, which launched in October lets you “create your own label.” You go to their web site (no log in required) and create your own shirt from scratch including shape, colors, fabrics, stitching, etc…  The cost for each shirt ends ups being about the same as a typical shirt from Macy’s except there is nothing “typical” about it. For now, their offerings are targeted toward younger males, so if you’re a guy, they’re must-see, but if you’re not – I’d keep an eye out for them expanding into other segments. Or, ladies, check them out for a unique Holiday present for that special guy in your life.

ThredUP, or “Netflix for clothes” as they are sometimes referred to, is in the same market but a very different segment. Their premise is that a lot of people like to change their wardrobes very often. As a result, perfectly good pieces of clothing end up hanging in their closet indefinitely. So, with ThredUP ,you can get an envelope where you place your unworn 1-year-old  sweater and swap with someone who might have a cool shirt they don’t wear anymore. ThredUP simply charges you for the envelope (which is cheaper than most bargain-rack off-brand shirts). They ask that your clothes by laundered and in good condition, and while this isn’t easily enforced, if you don’t do it the reputation system will make it unlikely someone will ever swap with you.

At Mass Inno – the theme this time was mostly energy efficiency. I’m no energy buff, but HEET and New Generation Energy caught my eye because they are non-profits. HEET (Home Energy Efficieny Team) organizes volunteers to help people “weatherize” their homes. They host parties and get-togethers to educate folks on energy efficieny and related topics.

New Generation Energy is a non-profit investment fund (that’s right!) that lets socially conscious investors participate in renewable energy projects in exchange for fixed-rate returns. If you’d like to donate to a project they are sponsoring you can do that as well, but for those who want to make a difference yet are not ready to donate large amounts of money this could be the golden middle. High net worth isn’t a requirement to invest here – you only need $1000.

I’m looking forward to meeting cool new startups at WebInno and MassInno in 2010. For the rest of December, a cool event on my radar is the online travel panel atVilna Shul in Boston on December 16: details here.