Lever Inc. showcases startups with Berkshire County connections


NORTH ADAMS — Ryan Maturski started racingjunk.com in 1998, growing it into a North Adams company that employed more than 30 people before its sale in 2012.

Now, Maturski is launching RynoAds, a service that will look to compete with the likes of Craigslist for outdoor enthusiasts — and employ people locally.

"There are definitely people here that can do the job that we need," Maturski said.

RynoAds and a number of other young companies with local connections were on display at an event Friday hosted by Lever Inc. Located on Main Street in North Adams, Lever aims to spur economic development locally, largely by providing resources and space to young people from local colleges with entrepreneurial aspirations.

The event was held at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art's Club B-10, which was filled with a rapt audience interested in the products being introduced.

Maturski and his team grew racingjunk.com to about 750,000 users. He hopes to have millions with RynoAds. If it can do that, Maturski said, "we're going to have a very healthy company right here in North Adams."

The event also showcased the work of Jason Briggs, a former Williams College student who spent the summer with Lever in 2014. Briggs wants you to know that the average worker wastes up to four hours every week looking for files on his or her computer, which usually contains thousands of items.

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The solution, which he co-founded, is a search engine for a user's files through his or her computer, cloud services, and even emails. The technology uses unique tags documents to make them more searchable, and the user never has to remember what folder — or cloud service — a file is in.

"It's 2016 and we're still using filing cabinet technology, essentially, to organize the files on our desktops," Briggs said.

The product launched in Beta form just days ago, and quickly had a thousand signups and generated interest.

Brent Heeringa, a professor of Computer Science at Williams College, introduced Mindburner, a new platform that does away with the traditional methods of helping a user who has forgotten his or her password for a service such of Netflix. Instead of a three to five-minute process of resetting a password, the user could quickly recover it using Mindburner — which will unlock your passwords based on images, not remembering a sequence of numbers or characters.

"Remembering or recognizing a sequence of images is something we've evolved to be something you're good at," Heeringa said.

Mayor Richard Alcombright said the event was exciting and that its participants offered a different vision of the future than many of people in the city.

"This is wonderful for the city of North Adams and our greater region to have this kind of braintrust here," Alcombright said.


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