Each month as part of StartHub Startups to Watch Program we connect with the winning company to learn more about them. Our January Startup to Watch is Soofa, a Cambridge-based technology company. Recently we had the pleasure of interviewing Sandra Y. Richter, Co-Founder & CEO of Soofa. Here’s what we learned:
Tell us about your company. What is Soofa?
Soofa is a technology company focused on building communities. Founded by 3 female founders, we spun out of the Media Lab at MIT in late 2014 and raised funding from Pillar, Underscore VC, Accomplice and other great supporters. Since then we have deployed smart urban technologies in 100+ cities. Our latest product, the Soofa Sign, is an off-grid digital community bulletin board that furthers our mission to create urban ecosystems that inspire.
What is your background?
My focus at MIT was in persuasive design with an emphasis on cities and mobility.
How did you come up with the idea for Soofa? Who is your target customer?
Soofa started with the mission to create more dynamic and welcoming public spaces that bring people together. We designed a few prototypes that resonated with citizens and a few months later we were at the White House Maker Faire having meetings with President Obama. Our target customers tend to be cities, real-estate developers, architects, larger corporations, and universities, but we love speaking with anyone looking to activate and understand their outdoor spaces better.
How do you think Soofa is going to disrupt the market? What are the main differentiators between you and your competitors?
To an extent we already have, Engadget voted us one of the Best Visions of the Future at CES 2018. There are a few people working on similar ideas, but we have a completely different way of thinking about the smart city space, democratizing it and making it approachable for the average citizen. The Soofa Sign is very simple to install, needing just 4 bolts, it is also completely off-grid with a wireless connection and solar power.
Who are your main investors?
Why did you decide to start your business in Boston? How long has your company been around?
Boston/Cambridge is our home, we started at MIT in 2014, the community and excitement around tech here make it impossible to leave.
What resources in the startup community have contributed to the success of Soofa?
The MIT network has been indispensable as we scale. The team is always at events, cheering on friends and making new ones.
How do you use StartHub professionally?
StartHub is a great resource for keeping tabs on what's happening around us and also promoting Soofa, especially to potential employees.
What are the next steps for Soofa?
2018 is starting off strong, we launched a huge project in Las Vegas. They've been a fantastic partner and are committed to smart cities. Today, many cities claim they want new technologies and innovation, but then are unwilling to amend their bureaucratic processes forcing young companies that must move quickly to stay afloat to find more progressive cities.
What is the most important thing our readers should know about Soofa?