Wherefore Art Thou Angels? Boston Startup Scene Gears Up for Angel Bootcamp on June 14 (and Wants a Little More Froth)

5/18/11Follow @gthuang

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round led by NextView Ventures, an up-and-coming micro VC firm, with Niraj Shah and Steve Conine, co-founders of CSN Stores, also participating along with other angels.

All in all, it’s a good start. “The angel community [and investing activity] has picked up in monstrous levels,” says Gus Weber, entrepreneur in residence at Dogpatch Labs in Cambridge (run by Polaris Venture Partners). Weber also points to a lot more organic, grass-roots events, such as last night’s RubyRiot in Boston, that are helping entrepreneurs and investors make connections, meet potential co-founders, and so forth.

Yet some key problems remain. Weber points to the issue of “restocking” the startup community, in terms of both talent and dollars. Startups around Boston—and everywhere else, it seems—are having to dig deeper and pay more to get talent on both the engineering and business sides. That’s a consequence of big companies and well-funded, established small companies playing hardball with the competition over job offers, signing bonuses, referral fees, and other forms of talent acquisition.

Still, these are all signs that the Boston startup scene is getting more competitive, which should be good for the region. Pierce’s event, in any case, mainly addresses the rise of consumer-facing Web and mobile startups, which he feels is still an under-represented sector among Boston angel investors. But, as observers often point out, all it would take is one or two big successes, like Google, Facebook, PayPal, or Twitter, to change things. And Pierce hopes his event will support the early-stage part of that.

“We want to grow the angel investor community smartly,” he says. “We need to experiment more than we are now.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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