Dog Patch Labs Is Just the Latest in a Rash of New Initiatives to Help Boston Entrepreneurs—And It All Seemed to Start When Y Combinator Left Town
[Updated October 5, 2009—see below] Today was a good day for Boston area entrepreneurs, as Polaris Venture Partners announced the opening of a new startup incubation and geek hangout space, Dog Patch Labs Cambridge, which will open next week on Third Street not far from Kendall Square.
Dog Patch Cambridge, which I wrote about earlier today, helps fill a real hole in the Boston innovation landscape. But Polaris it isn’t the only group filling this hole. In fact, the Dog Patch announcement is only the latest in what can be called a mini-explosion of interesting new incubation spaces and programs for entrepreneurs, all of which have sprung up since January, when Y Combinator announced it would no longer spend the summers in Cambridge and would instead stay year round in Mountain View, CA. I’m not saying they all got going because Paul Graham’s famous incubator left town—they definitely didn’t—but Y Combinator’s departure surely influenced some thinking and left a hole that, in the true spirit of innovation, several players likely rushed to fill.
Here’s my chronological tally of new programs, incubators, and investment funds for early-stage entrepreneurs that have opened in and around Boston since Y Combinator announced it was pulling up its Cambridge roots:
—January 2009— Y Combo pulls out.
—February: TechStars announces that it will bring its brand of entrepreneurial boot camp, providing seed funding and mentorship for early-stage technology companies, to Boston. The operation has since set up shop in Central Square in Cambridge, and is having its first Boston investor event tonight.
—April: Mass Medical Angels, a new angel group, forms to invest specifically in life sciences and medical startups.
—April-May: Xconomist Tim Rowe, president of the Cambridge Innovation Center, begins firming up plans for the Venture Café, which according to its Facebook page will be “a large cafe in the heart of Kendall Square, open early til very late, that is specifically designed to get members the innovation and entrepreneurship communities collaborating!” Rowe has assembled an amazing coalition of area innovators to help with the effort (disclosure: Xconomy is part of the effort).
—May: Spark Capital announces Start@Spark, a program offering seed-stage investments of up to $250,000 to promising early-stage startups in the New York and Boston areas.
—May: The Cambridge Innovation Center run by Xconomist Tim Rowe adds a new dimension: the Cambridge Coworking Center, a low-cost shared workspace for early-stage entrepreneurs and others. (The Kendall Square operation is similar to the previously existing Beta House in Central Square).
—June: Founder Collective, a new seed stage venture fund, reveals that it has raised $30 million. The firm was founded by Eric Paley, co-founder and former CEO of Brontes Technologies, and David Frankel, co-founder of The Internet Solution. It set up shop in Somerville.
—June: Governor Deval Patrick announces the creation of a $1 million annual business plan competition, the MassChallenge Venture Funds Competition. Run by a new Cambridge, MA, nonprofit called MassChallenge, the program is designed to attract more high-growth startups to the state.
—June: As part of the Mass Innovation challenge announcement, Xconomist Michael Greeley of Flybridge Capital Partners and Andy Ory, CEO of Acme Packet, commit to what Greeley calls the 12 by 12 by 12 by 12 by 12 program. They pledge to recruit 12 great successful CEOs to work with 12 VCs to mentor 12 promising young entrepreneurs to launch 12 new companies over the next 12 months.
—June: At XSITE (the Xconomy Summit on Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship), Xconomist Vinit Nijhawan announces the launch of the Boston University Kindle Mentoring Program, designed to help BU faculty, students, and alumni facilitate early stage business formation.
—August: Betaspring, a new incubator in Providence, RI, unveils its first startup class.
—September: Polaris Venture Partners announces the creation of Dog Patch Lab Cambridge, a sister incubator and work space to its original Dog Patch Lab on San Francisco’s Pier 38.
—[Update, Oct. 5]—October: Trio from Atlas Venture and General Catalyst Partners form Tugg, Technology Underwriting Greater Good, a non-profit to foster youth entrepreneurship and social innovation.