TechSandBox Looking to Rally Entrepreneurs in Boston’s MetroWest

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They’re working 80 hours a week when they have a wife and kids, and they’re taking out second mortgages. When you’re 22, you can live with six other people, you can have a part-time job at a bar, you can try something.”

Finer, the CEO of TechSandBox, says she’s setting up the incubator as a nonprofit. Revenues will come mostly from sponsorships and membership fees ($200 a month to be in the co-working space, $450 a month for a closed office). The workspace can handle about 40 to 80 people at a time, depending on daily use, she says. It’s already open for business, but the official launch party will be May 15.

Here are some edited highlights from our recent chat:

Xconomy: So let’s talk a little more about how the incubator will work, and the sorts of services you’re providing.

Barbara Finer: We’ll have advisors, mentors, bullpen space—shared co-working space—a few closed offices too, and then the consistency of having programs and panels and speakers and networking. After four months of research, it ended up being: everything that MassChallenge has, scaled down, without the competition.

If you’re an entrepreneur, everything’s brought to you—mentors, advisors, Wi-Fi, office space. So you can stick to your knitting, and clear some of the noise away. You don’t have to go find people for IP [intellectual property], marketing, or legal services. Most people aren’t good at picking up the phone and calling an IP attorney.

X: What kinds of companies and people are the best fit as residents? Which sectors are you focusing on?

BF: Science and technology entrepreneurs in IT; life sciences, medical devices, pharma, biochem; and industrial automation, robotics, and manufacturing. Also the energy sector—people from battery and biofuel companies and solar companies. There’s mobile gaming out here too. They have to be a science or tech product or service company.

Our first entrepreneur signed up, he’s a [Worcester Polytechnic Institute] PhD with a life sciences company, KBioSim. He has kids at home, and he wanted to hang out with other people and get the energy, the buzz, the camaraderie, the commiserating, the healthy competition.

X: What are your goals and metrics for the first year?

BF: The metrics for us are to prove to the skeptical rest of the world that there really are some very cool companies out here. And have some of them get the attention they deserve and hit certain milestones. So, how many get recognized that are hanging out here. We want to be a vibrant community. And within 18 months, we’d like to have the business model solidly on its footing and out of the startup scariness phase.

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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