Friday, April 30, 2010

What is Cool about the MITX Technology Awards

The MITX Technology Awards is coming up June 2nd at the Boston Marriott Copley Place, and you should consider going. I went to the 14th Annual MITX Interactive Awards show last November and they put on quite a production.

Some of the past winners of the Technology Awards include public companies like Logmein and Netezza, upcoming VC backed startups like the juggernaut HubSpot, SCVNGR and many acquired companies like StyleFeeder, Imlogic and iBrix. MITX and their judges seem to have pretty good track record for identifying winners.

The coolest thing about the event is that they give companies of all sizes and stages great visibility and a shot at coming away a winner.

Check out the list of finalists below and you will see one founder bootstrapped companies with less than a thousand monthly uniques up against public companies and well funded VC backed start-ups. This "level playing field" is a great opportunity for these newer companies to get the recognition they deserve and a chance for the limelight. I applaud MITX and the judges for their choices.

Analytics and Business Intelligence 2010

  • Project: Mobile application analytics service
    Company : Localytics

  • Project: Netezza TwinFin
    Company : Netezza

  • Project: Panjiva
    Company : Panjiva

  • Project: Vertica Analytic Database
    Company : Vertica Systems

Cloud Computing 2010

Devices 2010

E-Commerce/Alternative Retail 2010

Marketing/Customer Relationship Technologies 2010

Mobile Applications 2010

Mobile Infrastructure 2010

Online Advertising 2010

Rich Media 2010

  • Project: Brightcove online video platform
    Company : Brightcove

  • Project: Episend
    Company : Episend, Inc.

  • Project: Gotuit Video Metadata Management System ™(VMMS)
    Company : Gotuit

  • Project: myBrainshark
    Company : myBrainshark

  • Project: RAMP MetaQ (pronounced "meta cue")
    Company : RAMP

  • Project: Wistia
    Company : Wistia, Inc

Social Media 2010

Technology Enablers (Previously known as Enterprise Software) 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When Will They Launch Q2 2010

Every quarter we will be compiling 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.leonardo walk on water

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.

First let's recap the list from last quarter to see what progress has been made. Hard to say if they have any of these micro-targeted sites up. Here is all we can find, which is on the home page.   AdHarmonics helps consumer find exactly what they’re looking for with micro-targeted sites.  We bring innovation to the lead generation industry through micro-targeted sites that are open, easy to use and transparent to users.  We answer consumer’s queries for education, legal help, mortgages and other categories with narrowly targeted websites.  By focusing on small sets of users and providing them with the best possible options, AdHarmonics delivers high quality leads to its partners. AdHarmonics is based in Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA. has launched. Turns out the company is based in San Fran however. has launched. Turns out the company is based in San Fran however. still in stealth mode, though we can cut them some slack since it is not a web company. They are seeking funding for a virtualization play. Has launched. Easy signup go check it out. still in private beta Launched, although not a consumer site of interest to you and me, they have both logistics domain experience and web backgrounds. We wish Evan and company good luck. they have launched. check it out and give them feedback on usability etc... not launched yet. They do have a survey and form for prospective customers to sign up for a consultation. No web app at this point. Launched. It is a community to help people live happier and healthier lives. Join and set some goals and let the community encourage you to fulfill them. Launched. It is a web site where people can have conversations on a specific topic with people who are like them. Check it out, you can search for a topic of interest. As always with user generated content, there is not alot a first but it grows over time. Also Zaang is hinting that this is just the beginning and their "really big" idea is coming this quarter. Stay tuned.

So there you have it.  Half have launched and it is a varied and interesting group. Please take some time and give them a little user love.

Now we come to the new list of sites to watch in the coming months. Give them some sign-up love if you are interested and encourage them to take the plunge into the light of day.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Start-up Advice From the Heart

I attended the talk by Bill Warner , Building Start-ups from the Heart, at CIC last week. I must admit that the title was a bit touchy feely for me and anything that smacks of new age gobble-di-gook sends me straight outside to the BBQ where I can slow cook some ribs, throw back a few brews and crank up the Lynyrd Skynrd.

But knowing Bill's stalwart efforts to vitalize the startup economy and his angel involvement with local web app companies, curiosity got the best of me and I went in spite of the title.

I'm glad I did because the talk turned out to be very practical advice with a framework for taking action. My skepticism was completely washed away. Those of you that know me know that the events I produce and attend must provide some value to the community beyond just a smoozefest and this talk easily fit the bill.

The main concept is that you must build your startup around an armature of Intention. How do you intend to help people? The Invention of your startup is a conduit to flow your intention to your users. Keeping true to your intention is very important and when you are diverted from it, the energy needed to create an awesome product which resonates with users and produces a re-generative cycle of growth, is diminished.

The other concept Bill spoke about was CoFlow, which is a state you should seek when building a company where the additional co-founders amplify the intentions of the founder and produce an organization where the sum is greater than it's parts.

My main take away from the talk was a new framework for understanding what you are trying to accomplish with your start-up and a better way of crafting a pitch which is based upon the problem you are solving rather than what your product is. This is a much more powerful way to present your company whether explaining it to someone at a cocktail party or to investors.

It turns out that this method of presenting your "pitch" dovetails nicely with a post by Chris Dixon discussing how to size your market using a narative rather than numbers when pitching to VCs.bill warner

This interview Bill Warner did for the Tom Peters blog will give you a better idea of his concepts in his own words. It sounded like he was working on a book explaining these concepts, so keep your eyes open for that to hit and by all means, if you get a chance, go see the talk if he does it again sometime.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hey Google! can you come out and play?

I was talking to @evanish at an event recently and the subject came up about the conspicuous absence of Google at meetups or pretty much any start-up function held in the Boston area.  I don't go to every meetup in town but I am pretty sure that Jason does  (prove us wrong if you have a Goog siting experience). A quick search of the last Web Inno25 attendees came up with one Google employee, out of 500~. A business guy, Adam Compain, AdWords (Relationship Manager), Google

At the smaller meetups, we can not recall meeting anyone from the sign Is it because the majority of the best meetups are held at the NERD Center? That seems fixable.

Yes there is an occasional Rich Miner, from Google Ventures, siting around town. And maybe at a higher level, they have a presence, sponsoring the MITX Awards and Eric Schmidt briefing the press, but what about on the ground?

It would be great if they got involved in the Boston innovation economy at a "street level". It's like an elephant tip toeing through the tulips. I understand they are huge and could have a huge impact wherever they go so maybe they want to tread lightly and not overwhelm our little hamlet. But no involvement whatsoever seems like over compensation.

Now that they are loosening up here, as evidenced by actually putting up a shingle, maybe we will get to see more involvement. I mean come on guys, you are the company that every web geek aspires to become. Doesn't it make sense to get out into the community at the grass roots level.

I know you are hiring right now, so simply from a recruiting stand point, it would make sense to get out and mingle with the community. You have so much to give, and giving will in turn provide benefit to you. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" won't work. We know you are there.

We admire you, we want to be like you, so come on Google, can you please come out and play?

Thanks to Scott Kirsner for the photo.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Boston Consumer Web Innovation Cycle Leakage

Consumer web is an area ripe for improvement here in Boston. It is no secret that there is a need for more angels willing to spread some funding around in portfolio fashion for early consumer web companies. The lack of angels is a result of too few big wins in the web space and therefore no groups of wealthy and successful web founders looking to angel invest. But it also seems that many of the founders that do achieve success here don't return to become founder/angels and instead stay at the acquiring company or become VCs.

If you look at our small start-up world , you can describe it as a cycle in a similar manner to the carbon cycle or water cycle.

For the system to thrive, it depends on replenishing the driving force, in this case founders, back  into the start-up cycle to build another company.

Again, this leak is specific to the consumer web start-ups here. Industries like storage, communication/wireless, robotics, and gaming have achieved a self sustaining momentum which feeds the pipeline of new start-ups.

A lot of our best and brightest get stuck at the top of the cycle and stay at the acquiring company or become a VC.  I am not knocking anyone's personal choice.  Given the chance,  I would be tempted to do the same. But when this happens the cycle is disrupted and energy is not reintroduced into the founder pool.

The cumulative effect is that vitality and experience necessary to create the centrifugal force that will fling a big web success out of the start-up swamp and into the IPO light of day, is sapped every time a great entrepreneur does not return.

It is somewhat a chicken and egg problem because we surely would benefit from another  large anchor consumer web company growing and training the talent pool from which small companies spring. And yes, a group of wealthy founders and execs willing to seed invest in young web companies wouldn't hurt either.

The question is, how does Boston get those large consumer web wins we need? From the top down or bottom up? Do we try to cherry pick that one potential win and nurture it to IPO? It seems the model that works is a numbers approach, (ie..Ron Conway) where funding many early stage companies in a basket fashion has the greatest chance of producing a big win.

From the bottom up, our educational institutions are providing plenty of raw talent to be absorbed by the system. But without a thriving consumer web start-up environment and mentors and role models, they will go to a more inviting market for consumer web companies, to quench their entrepreneurial thirst.

Its not all bad though, there are a number of web entrepreneurs and seed investors that are getting involved more at the early stage and things are improving. It just feels like progress is hindered ( and probably a cute little bunny croaks) every time a successful founder becomes a VC or continues working at an acquiring company well past the earn out period.