Friday, December 17, 2010


talentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: InsightSquared

Funding Status: Seed?

Founders Backgrounds: Hubspot, Bessemer VP

Investors: ?

Industry: B2B, SMB business analytics, Sales pipeline tool

Offering Description: Customizable, intuitive and actionable business/sales intelligence data.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

5 Boston Consumer Web Companies to Watch

What city comes to your mind when you hear consumer web startups? Did you say Boston? Ok... probably not.

Yes, it is true that we are much more well rounded in the variety of companies that we foster, but keep an eye on the ever increasing number of consumer ideas popping up here.

The following is a list of a spectrum of consumer sites starting with a extremely successful $400 Million revenues site and ending with promising new entrants.


CSN Stores With revenues topping $200 million, CSN Stores is a top 3 online retailer of home and office goods and until recently, one of the unheralded successes in Boston web businesses.  Now that they are a force in the industry they have decided to seek the recognition they deserve.


Punchbowl Battling huge entrenched competition, Punchbowl has steadily grown into a one stop solution for party planning. By offering a service that goes well beyond sending invitations, Punchbowl has differentiated themselves by helping users through all stages of planning and hosting a party.


Daily Grommet is a gem of a web site. Featuring one unique product a day and making great use of video, they have created an engaging and informative shopping experience. Take a look and you will surely find something you can't live without.


TurningArt , described as a Netflix for art was launched this summer.  A monthly fee allows users to put up a new piece of art every few months and of course purchase a print or even the original when you decide you want to own it. The art selection is high quality and varied enough to fit most any taste. It also seems like a good venue for artists to gain exposure and hopefully make some additional sales.

Svpply is a social shopping site following in the footsteps of StyleFeeder before it. Decidedly more design hipster oriented, you probably won't find any recliners or Deluxe Marge from the Simpsons costumes. What you will find is a pleasing minimalist aesthetic and products recommended by users with an eye for design.

As you can see, there are some interesting things going on in the consumer space here. These examples are just a few of the web companies starting up in the Boston area. If you have any favorites you feel deserve recognition, please add them in the comments.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


talentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: Scalebase (hiring)

Funding Status: Series A

Founders Backgrounds:  Aluna, IDF, Orbotech

Investors: Cedar Fund

Industry: Database, Cloud Software

Offering Description: ScaleBase is a new cloud‑based service that provides high availability and scalability for your SQL databases. It is an extremely sophisticated load balancer that provides your databases with as much cloud elasticity as you need by enabling significantly more concurrent user connections and SQL commands for any type of SQL database applications!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


talentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: Savewave logo savewave

Funding Status: Series A

Founders Backgrounds: Upromise, Jingle Networks

Investors: Flybridge, First Round Capital, Founder Collective

Industry:  B2B, digital promotion, distribution, and rewards fulfillment company

Offering Description: SaveWave is building a platform to enable consumer packaged goods brands and retailers to promote their products and services to all consumers through fully digital promotion, distribution, and rewards fulfillment.  In addition to providing Upromise Grocery, a program through which over 12 million members can earn college savings rewards by purchasing participating products in over 27,500 supermarkets and drug stores nationwide, SaveWave is expanding its distribution reach through customized offer syndication with retailers, affinity rewards programs, and media channels.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Boston Web Startups Q4 2010, Launching Soon?

Every quarter we publish a list of the newest web startups in the area that are working towards launching publicly.

Masschallenge surfaced a great many new companies over the summer and I think had an impact on the amount of new companies making themselves known publicly early on.

So, this list is shorter than usual. As always, sign up for the betas and help these new companies with valuable user feedback so they can hone their value proposition and build something people want.

Monday, October 18, 2010


logo fashionstake

talentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: Fashionstake

Funding Status: Seed Round

Founders Backgrounds: Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey and Company

Investors: Battery Ventures

Industry: Consumer Web, Fashion, eCommerce

Offering Description:

Be part of a new fashion democracy.

Unlock an exciting new way to experience fashion with FashionStake, a revolutionary online marketplace for contemporary and luxury ready-to-wear fashion.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Keys to Brand Transformation: Learn From Local Success Stories

mitx banner

MITX is hosting an event next week at the Arnold Offices. It’s called: The Keys to Brand Transformation: Learn From Local Success Stories, and it’s from 8am – 10am on Wednesday, October 20.  See here ( for full details.

Featured Speakers:

  • Mark Minelli - President, Minelli, Inc. (winner of a 2010 Rebrand Award for the YMCA of Greater Boston)

  • Sam Hammar - Communications Strategist, City of Boston's Innovation District

  • Dan Marques - Director of Online Marketing and Analytics, Gemvara

It looks like an event that will provide a lot of valuable information to both new and established companies.

MITX was kind enough to let us give away 4 tickets (2 remaining) . If you would like to attend, please email tickets"at" with  "Brand Transformation" in the subject line.

The first 4 emails will receive the tickets. You must register before Deadline:October 19, 2010 at 12:00 PM.

This is a $70 value if you are not a member of MITX.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Great Upcoming Events for Boston Entrepreneurs

Between October 4th to October 21st, Boston will enjoy an even higher concentration of Entrepreneurial focused events. Thanks to two Weeklong Event Experiences being put together by local organizations.

Future M is the first ever multi location experience dedicated to what is new in marketing.  October 4-8, 2010, dozens of events and activities will showcase the leading ideas, thinkers and companies on the future of Marketing. Panels, summits, roundtables, user groups, virtual events, demos, parties organized throughout greater Boston - all focused on what’s new and what’s next in Marketing.

Boston Region Entrepreneurship Week  or Brew Boston, is shining a spotlight on the entrepreneurial spirit in and around Boston.  Brew is happening October 13th - 21st.

Although all events look to be valuable, three in particular stand out as must attend. One is already sold out so if you are interested, don't hesitate to register.

Customer Development: The Second Decade -- with Steve Blank's co-author Bob Dorf

Tuesday, October 05, 2010 from 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM (ET)

Speakers: Bob Dorf, Author, "Customer Development: The Second Decade;" Simeon Simeonov, CEO, FastIgnite

This event is for:
* Entrepreneurs and CEOs who want to build capital-efficient businesses
* Geeks who want to be founders
* Marketers who want to find the right customers cheaply
* Angel investors and VCs who want to generate great returns

"Scalable Intimacy: The Next Step in Social Marketing", coming up on October 7th at FutureM! (SOLD OUT)

Speaker: Mike Troiano - founding CEO, Ogilvy & Mather Interactive and current President, Holland-Mark Digital.

If you've gotten your brand up on Facebook and Twitter, and are starting to wonder why you bothered, this session is for you.

Startup Marketing Bootcamp: Workshop + Lessons Learned Friday, October 08, 2010 from 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM (ET)

Flybridge Capital Partners and Highland Capital Partners have teamed to help consumer facing and online B2B start-up companies navigate the new world of marketing. This intense start-up marketing boot camp will bring together leaders from across the marketing world to provide attendees with insights, roadmaps and real-world case studies for incorporating new marketing technologies and approaches into their business

It's shaping up to be a great October, so see you out there.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Boston Angel Series: Lead Dog Ventures

Yes, we have  already heard about the dearth of Consumer Web Angel Investors here in Boston. So you might be interested to find out about a local Angel that has a pretty impressive track record in both quantity and quality of deals.

The fund, Lead Dog Ventures is  run by John Landry and has been active locally since 1994. He has been a fixture around Boston since the inception of the enterprise software industry as CTO of companies like Cullinet , McCormack and Dodge and Lotus.

Here is a photo I pinched from his blog (hope he doesn't mind) to show you that the guy has gravitas.

jobs and Landry photo

As you can see the portfolio is not completely Consumer Web, but the recent fundings of oneforty, Daily Grommet, Ayeah Games and Blueleaf demonstrate the trend towards web oriented businesses.

Take a look at John's talk at the Angel Boot Camp to get a good feel for how he invests.

So it is not all gloom for Web companies seeking angel funding here in Boston. Some of the traditional enterprise oriented angels will be able to make the transition as John did, and we need more coming from operational experience in web companies to make up the slack for those that don't, but there are good  angels out there when you're looking.


talentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: CardStar Card star logo

Funding Status: Series A

Founders Backgrounds: Lumifi, Trust Digital

Investors: Verizon, Launch Capital

Industry: Mobile Application

Offering Description: Developing mobile applications that perpetuate the use of loyalty cards and mobile coupons. The CardStar application consolidates membership and rewards cards on smartphones — letting consumers access scannable cards from within a single app and enabling merchants to tailor mobile deals and information to their customers.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


moontoast logotalentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: Moontoast

Funding Status:  Series A?

Exec Team's Background:, Myperfectgig, Schematic, North American Membership Group

Investors: TBD

Industry: Consumer Web, eCommerce

Offering Description:  Branded Community Part social. Part commerce. All Yours. - Embedded Store Sell Your Products on Your Website and Everyone Else's. - Private Sales Club Make Your E-Commerce as Prestigious as Your Brand

Monday, August 23, 2010


talentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: Blosonlogo bloson

Funding Status:  Seed

Founders Backgrounds:, Raytheon

Investors: ?

Industry: Consumer Web, Social Cause

Offering Description: Bloson gives you the social content you want, and the social action the world needs.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


talentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: Mowbi mowbi logo

Funding Status: Bootstrapped, Seed

Founders Backgrounds:, Shipyard Brewing Company

Investors: Seeking investment

Industry: Mobile Application

Offering Description:

Mowbi is a mobile commerce platform for everybody.

Mowbi includes a mobile store, mobile billing and invoicing system, a mobile credit card terminal and text marketing tools. Because of Mowbi's modular design, it is being integrated with enterprise applications while at the same time it is the perfect tool for your next garage sale. Just put your garage sale items in to a mobile store and publish the link in your classified ad. People can see, and buy, your items before they arrive plus you can accept credit cards, PayPal and Google Checkout at your garage sale.

Adding the ability for remote sales teams to buy and sell from their phones has a lot of potential to increase income and cut expenses for many businesses. Mowbi is modular so it can be integrated in to enterprise systems affordably.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Paul Graham is a Brilliant Recruiter

I am sure the epithet recruiter is not something PG will lay claim to, but the facts speak for themselves. Their recruiting program may have developed organically but the new application that lets would be aspirants apply to all of the YC companies at once, makes it clear that recruiting hackers is one of the factors that drives the YC startup creation engine.

For an example of  a world class technical recruiting program, look no further than Y Combinator.

Sequoia Capital calls Y Combinator "The startup scouting system". It could just as easily be called "the hacker scouting system".

Yes, I have written about this topic before.  In Paul Graham is Seilling the Children I described (a bit tongue in cheek) how PG cannot go wrong in making money from the YCombinator investments.

The premise was simple. Pay about $ 6,000 for an  engineer that will be worth between $ 500k to $ 1 M+ at acquisition. The product doesn't matter that much. Maybe they make something that generates revenue, but even if they don't, a talent acquisition can still make a good return. (Parakey, Divvyshot, reMail)

Take a look at this recent interview where he states  "the founder is a lot more important than the idea" about 42 seconds in ( a bit out of context, sure, but the point is, YC has more of a recruiting bias than a business idea bias).

A highly successful recruitment program consists of the following components;

Sell your Dream: Why work for the Man when you can start a company, make something people want and possibly get rich.

Build and Nurture a Talent Pool:  The YC alumni network alone is probably approaching 1,000 hackers. Add that to the participants on HackerNews,  the potentially thousands of companies that apply every year, and it is clear that YCombinator has amassed the largest affinity network of hackers, startup founders and would be start up teams in the world. They also host their version of a Job Fair where the portfolio companies present to groups of vetted candidates.

The latest creation of further increases the reach of the Y Combinator recruiting effort and helps them build an even larger talent pool with the promise of  introducing you to 30 startups for 10 minutes of effort .

Source candidates from the Professional Graph: YC companies have been known to acquire each other, presumably these are hackquisitions, (acquiring company for the hackers) "hey I think I coined a phrase". They regularly hire from other YC companies.  They also promote YC through the growing professional network of portfolio companies, their employees, mentors/advisors and investors.

Utilize Social Media: and PG's series of essays is widely read and each new entry is propigated around the web. NewsYC is a highly engaged community of startup enthusiasts, hackers and has probably the best discussions of all things technical on the web.

Generate Media Buzz: YC companies probably get a dis proportionate quantity of  ink on TechCrunch.

Other media:   MixergyIncMotley FoolTimeBWNYTNewsweekUSA Today

Stay on Message:   Hackers good:Suits Bad.  Read any of these articles and you will see the recurring theme.... or or


With a  pool worth over a $ Billion dollars (acquiring value) of engineering talent to draw upon, it is clear that the YC recruiting effort is paying off. This fact,  I'm sure is not lost on Sequoia Capital and well worth a $ 10 million investment, to tap into.

What does this have to do with Your Company?

First of all, realize that recruiting is a form of direct marketing. Then notice that the marketing YC is doing is permission based.

Your company should; know the audience that will be receptive to the message and focus on that group. Craft a story that will be attractive and draw candidates into the talent pool. Then promote the opportunities on multiple fronts using traditional media, social media and professional networking.

One can only hope to be as effective as Y Combinator at recruiting. What you can do is take these concepts and adapt them to your program to attract and build your talent pool.

What do you think your company can take from the YC recruiting playbook to improve your results?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

When Will These Web Sites Launch Q3 2010

Every quarter we compile a list of new web properties that are in private beta or "coming soon" stage. We hope to give them a bit of exposure and help with early customer sign up.

The other goal is to encourage them to come out to the public and start to get feedback from the user community. We are rooting for you, so launch that leaky boat or take your first steps on the water.

We think  Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn) was giving good advice when he  said this.

‘If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.’

First let's recap the list from last quarter to see what progress has been made. Still private beta. Still splash page. Still splash page that says  "Stop by again later this year." currently under construction looked like it was live, but when we tried to sign up, it says "oops, requires an invite token" not public yet. Says "apply for Alpha" has launched and recently transitioned to a paid service.  If you are building a web app you need to know how well it supports cross browser functionality. Give Mogotest a try. has launched and is free to sign up. Give Wattzy a try if you want to save on energy bills. Looked like it was live, but clicking on Sign Me Up, asks you a few anonymous questions and then gives you this message.  "Enter your email to get notified when we launch" not launched. We set up a mailing list for people who want to be a “Friend of FanZanimal, Inc.”

Score: Only two out of the ten have launched. Wattzy and Mogotest. Congratulations to both and go visit and spend some time or money with both.

When Will These Web Sites  Launch Q3 2010

Now let's take a look at the list for next quarter. Pay them a visit and sign up for their beta tests if you're interested. These new creations need your support and input to find their way and make something you want to use.


talentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: TurningArt turningart logo

Funding Status: Seed

Founders Backgrounds: Bankfox

Investors: ?

Industry: Consumer Web

Offering Description: It's like Netflix for Art Prints. Browse the work of our hand-selected artists and build a queue of artwork that you'd like to explore.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


talentGraphz grzrlogo Record: Abine Abine logo

Funding Status: Seed

Founders Backgrounds: Datapower, LRN, Security Metrics

Investors: Self Funded?

Industry: Consumer Web Security

Offering Description: provides Internet privacy solutions for consumers. Abine's products and services allow regular people to regain control over their personal information while continuing to browse, interact and shop online.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Social Design Meet hosts TestCase: Designing for Conversion

A new group; the Social Design Meet is starting up and TestCase is pleased to contribute at their first meeting. testcase logo

Both groups share the same goal of creating events that are not only great social/ networking gatherings, but also an event where you can leave knowing you learned something.

This third TestCase subject is Social Design for Conversion.

If you would like your design to be evaluated at the meetup, contact Kabir

It is intended for founders of social and consumer web properties.

the Social Design Meet goal is to foster a design oriented community of like minded individuals in the Boston area intent on building the next generation of great social apps. A community is the best way to spur innovation

If you agree that a focus on user experience is what will make the next web products great, then you should plan on attending.

Sign up here and BTW, as with all TestCase events, there will be free Beer and Pizza.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Genotropegrzrlogo Record:  Sembled sembled logo

Funding Status: Seed

Founders Backgrounds: Great Hill Partners (Boston-based private equity firm).

Investors: Friends & Family / Founder

Industry: Consumer Web

Offering Description: LLC helps consumers identify the easiest "assembly requried" products and strives to reduce frustration and time required in assembling a product with detailed video and photo instructions and commentary.