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social media and consumer Internet space as an example. He knows people in San Francisco, he says, who “could bring a lot of value to some aspiring social media entrepreneurs here in Boston.” Polaris might bring them to Cambridge for seminars, workshops, pizza parties, and more. Similarly, Dog Patch Cambridge folks might be invited to San Francisco. “We really hope that this can be a bridge that allows a lot of the talent and the thinking to flow back and forth between the coasts,” Hirshland says. The first of these fellows will hold a seminar in Cambridge on a to-be-announced topic no later than November, Polaris says.
Despite its broader focus and expanded ambitions of becoming an innovation bridge between the coasts, Dog Patch Cambridge will operate almost exactly like its West Coast counterpart. It will start small, with initial space for about 10 entrepreneurs (San Francisco has expanded a few times, and is in the process of growing again, to accommodate 35 desks). And it will operate on what Hirshland calls the principle of “open source” entrepreneurship. Denizens are welcomed free of charge—and with no strings attached.
As I wrote in my original profile: “A startup or someone pursuing a startup idea gets free office space, Internet connectivity, camaraderie, and the eyes and ears of Polaris folks. But Polaris doesn’t take a stake in the endeavors or even insist on first rights to fund the enterprises it houses …There’s an implicit understanding that the venture firm will have first crack at funding a promising Dog Patcher, but only as what he [Hirshland] calls a “‘first sponsor’ goodwill thing. No economics, no rights/obligations.’” The expectation is that the groups will move on—hopefully by raising financing and moving into their own space—within three to six months.
That open source aspect is pretty unique. Many incubators, including most of those included in our recent Xconomy Guide to Venture Incubators, take some sort of equity stake in the companies they nurture.
Hirshland says the primary idea behind Dog Patch, though, is not to develop “a feeder system for Polaris investments.” Rather, the point is to try and foster connection between entrepreneurs. Directly or indirectly, he says, the more energy there is in the system, “we all benefit from that.”
If you’d like to be considered for a kennel slot at the lab, this is the place to e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some photos I shot (except for the last one, which comes from Polaris) at Dog Patch San Francisco in May.
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