Tuesday, June 30, 2009

First Round Office Hours in Cambridge

Make sure to mark July 6th, 2009 on your calendar if you are a viable start-up and want a chance to  speak with one of the premier web investment firms.

First Round Capital is holding an Office Hours session in Cambridge at Toscanini's Ice Cream in Central Square.

If you are not familiar with First Round Capital, you should be. They are well known as one of the most savvy and successful early stage investors with a team that has earned their cred in the trenches as entrepreneurs themselves. Their current portfolio includes Mint.com, Xobni, Get Satisfaction as well as a few Boston area start-ups.

If you don't have a warm introduction to First Round through your network, this is the next best thing. Take advantage of their open invitation to introduce yourself and your company.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Company Name: Gathr.Me

Company URL: http://www.gathr.me

Funding Status: Not yet!

Investors: NA

Industry:  Consumer Internet

Offering Description:
Gathr.Me me is a personal portal to manage your online presence. It is an aggregator for not just your social network status, but all of your social networks and their functionality as well as email, and other sites where you have a personal profile or require a login and password. Gathr.Me will also allow ou to distribute all manner of media (videos, pictures, blogs, documents) from our portal to multiple sites at once.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Genotrope Record: KillYourcube Currently Hiring

Funding Status: Seed

Investors: Bootstrapped

Industry: Consumer Web, Career Guidance

Offering Description: Helping people forge their own career paths to success. Our patent-pending technology designs customized Career Maps that show you the road to your ideal job in a way never before possible.

Friday, June 12, 2009

TechFellow Awards Disappoints

Self-portrait of Joseph Ducreux
Image via Wikipedia

Is it just me or do you think the TechFellow Awards was pretty lame and sort of seemed tossed off?

The TechFellow Awards presented itself as being all about disruptive innovation and making innovation happen. They had a huge list of prominent judges and my expectations were high. I was looking forward to learning about the newest disruptive innovations coming out of the crucible of cutting edgeness, the hotbed of invention, the bleeding fringe type stuff.

What we got was Social Networking, Virtual Goods, Instant Message integration, an audience vote for your favorite artist site, web email, chat and spam protection.

All good stuff but not really innovative in 2009. This is not meant as a cut to the award winners, they all deserve recognition, especially Eric Reis who is currently carrying the mantle of  "geek idol" and spreading much valuable knowledge and experience to the startupsphere.

My point is that the expectations were set for disruptive innovation and what was delivered was 2005 technology.

Where were the things changing our life currently? Surely the founders and executives at the following companies can be considered equally or more disruptive and innovative.

Presence based mobile applications  enabled by Wi-Fi Positioning System: Skyhook Wireless

Speech recogition: Vlingo

Video analytics and search technology: Visible Measures, ScanScout

Immersive gaming: Harmonix Music

Electronic Ink:  E-Ink

New business category and marketing tools:  Hubspot

Dev Tools: jQuery

Power Innovation: A123

And that is just the Boston list.

What about cloud computing, ever hear of Rails or Django? Real time search, micro sharing, new advertising platforms and so on.

There has to be more going on there, it is Silicon Valley for gosh sake. The idea is a great one and the companies that receive the geek grants of $ 50 will make good use of it.

Again, this is all about the expectation of savoring the freshness of disruptive innovation and getting served day old bread.

Am I off base here? Let me know what you think and feel free to add deserving innovators.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Angels and Seed Funding in Boston

First, let's get this out of the way. The Boston start-up scene kicks ass. Although there is always the inevitable comparison to silicon valley, the only deficiency we have is in the amount of Web Start-up successes.angel2

Excluding the Web, Boston is very strong; in wireless and mobile technology, bio-tech, robotics, gaming, storage, data-center  infrastructure, database and cleantech.

The need for improvement is clearly in the consumer internet, which is also where start-up  companies can take the most advantage of Angel Investment.

We attended the MIT Innovation Series on Seed Capital panel last night and it is now evident that available capital is not the issue for web start-ups.

Up to now, the Boston angel community has been comprised of successful individuals that made their money in the mini computer, workstation, data communications, instrumentation and enterprise software. This is the world of defensible IP, direct sales  and business customers.  It makes sense that web companies with no invention risk seeking large consumer distribution may be outside their comfort zone.

Yes, Boston missed the first wave of Web wealth which created the rich angel community in SV such as the PayPal mafia, xGooglers, eBay and Super Angels like Ron Conway. So be it. We are now correcting that.

Start-ups can take heart that just the three investors on the panel last night have enough willingness and money to fund most every viable web start-up in Boston.

Google Ventures

TechStars Boston


Other local angel groups that are backing companies in the consumer web space are:

Bantam Group Savvy and entrepreneur friendly.

eCoast Angels Even though their web site contains this quote about it's members "the old Yankee adage that your name should appear in the paper only three times: when you are born, when you marry, and when you die."  which is the antithesis of the web culture of transparency, Don Dodge is doing his part to back local consumer web companies.

A recent addition to the scene with a lot of credibility and clout is Founder Collective

With these organizations leading the way, the local angel associations are sure to follow.

Now the money is there. What else can we do?

Shawn Broderick from TechStars commented on the fact that Boston could improve on becoming less insular and open up as a community.

That is one of our hot buttons, to see more meetups and groups where there is a practical exchange of ideas, advice and experience. Let's move beyond the superficial schmoozefests we know and love, and start more intimate and useful splinter meetups. A rising tide lifts all boats. The more community knowledge, experience and success we share, the stronger our  start-ups will become.

So go forth and prosper, the ball is in the entrepreneur's court to make use of the resources now available. And whatever you do, don't be shy.


Genotrope Record: BankFox

Funding Status: Seed

Investors: Founders

Founders or Execs past companies: Sconex, Endeca

Industry: Consumer Web, Financial, B2C

Offering Description: There are many sites for comparing bank products but most of them are focused on rates. While we think rates are important, we also believe that there’s a lot more you need to know to choose a bank – like information on fees, online tools, bank health, branch location, customer service, special requirements, and more, all of which are included on our site. By publishing all of this additional data, we strive to be the most comprehensive website for choosing bank products.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Mass Challenge announced by Gov Patrick


Massachusetts has just announced a initiative to fund start up activities here in our state. $ 25 million dollars will be allocated to catalyze growth and stimulate innovation.

Check it out http://masschallenge.org/


Genotrope Record: ApplyGo

Funding Status: Seed

Investors: Founders

Founders or Execs past companies: TalentBurst, UAC

Industry: Consumer Web, B2C, Education

Offering Description: We make it cheaper and easier for institutions to enroll international students. connect institutions of higher education with students from around the world

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June is Innovation Month in New England

There is a lot of activity focused on startups and innovation around Boston this month. In fact, June has been officially declared Innovation Month.  http://NEinnovation.com/

Rob Go of Spark Capital has a post up about his  Three Reasons to be Optimistic About Entrepreneurship in New England  He did a good job of summarizing what fuels the Boston areas innovation and pointing out that the community is growing and increasingly coming together.

His third  point about Increasing Activity resonates the most with us.  The more we can do to foster collaboration and openness among local entrepreneurs, the better chance we all have of becoming successful.

We are ready to take the next step beyond the basic demo/networking events and innovate the actual networking events themselves so they contribute practical information and advice to take away and use in our own contexts.

That was the thinking behind TestCase Boston which was successful enough to have requests for a follow up event at a larger venue. We hope to host the next one at the end of August.

We encourage you all to come up with ideas for meetups and networking events that contribute back to the community. Feel free to bounce any ideas off of us or make comments  on this post. We will try to find sponsors or whatever makes sense to help out.

See you at one of the events.