January 2011

Congratulations to MassChallenge on partnership with White House Startup America Campaign

Today, the White House is kicking off a brand new initiative called Startup America to celebrate and fuel entrepreneurship across our nation. Startup America is a coordinated effort among innovative entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, foundations, and federal agencies to “inspire and empower an ever greater diversity of communities and individuals to build great American companies”.

At Microsoft we are proud to take part in this new campaign through our continued investment and support of MassChallenge which is being recognized this morning in Washington D.C. as a key partner in Startup America. MassChallenge has made incredible progress since its launch in April 2010 in spurring innovation in our Commonwealth and beyond. Here are just a few of the outstanding results:

  • MassChallenge received 446 applications from 26 countries and 24 states
  • MassChallenge supported 111 startups in their accelerator program
  • MassChallenge teams have secured $20M+ in outside funding within three months following the accelerator
  • MassChallenge startups have also produced 300 direct jobs representing  less than $2K public funding per job created

Microsoft’s continued sponsorship of MassChallenge (along with the BlackStone Foundation and Fallon Company) will enable support of 100+ startups in 2011 and also provide a platform for significant national expansion in 2012 and beyond.

Innovation and entrepreneurship are the cornerstone of the American economy. MassChallenge is proud to support entrepreneurs and help accelerate the next generation of high growth companies. Microsoft has been a key sponsor and partner of MassChallenge since the beginning, and has been absolutely vital for our success to date. Microsoft has truly taken a leadership role in supporting new ideas and entrepreneurs in Massachusetts, nationally, and around the world.
Akhil Nigam – Founder and President, MassChallenge

The inclusion of MassChallenge in the Startup America campaign is a further testament to the positive impact that MassChallenge is having in Massachusetts and our nation’s innovation economy. Microsoft is excited to continue our partnership and we look forward to seeing all the promising MassChallenge startups reach their full potential.
Sara Spalding – Senior Director, Microsoft New England Research & Development Center

Welcome Dogpatch Labs and TechStars to NERD!

Today, we are thrilled to welcome two leading startup incubators, Dogpatch Labs and TechStars, to the NERD campus. We have teamed up with our longstanding partner, Boston Properties, to house both Dogpatch Labs and TechStars on the 6th floor at One Cambridge Center in Kendall Square beginning January, 31st, 2011.

One of our key goals at NERD is to help the greater Boston technology and innovation ecosystem thrive. Dogpatch Labs and TechStars are key engines in our innovation economy, each having fueled the incubation and growth of numerous startups in the greater Boston area. Our support of both Dogpatch Labs and TechStars member companies extends well beyond the use of our office space and will also include full access to Microsoft BizSpark, NERD hosted events and more.

“Among the goals we had in creating Dogpatch Labs was to tap into and support the vibrant start-up ecosystem in the region, and its success to date has led to deeper connections and stronger collaboration with others in the community. Microsoft, among others, has been an especially important Polaris collaborator and they’ve done a great job of building an innovation culture in Kendall Square.  While we’re not formally affiliated with them or other tenants in the N.E.R.D space, we all share a deep commitment to identifying breakthrough entrepreneurs and doing whatever we can to nurture them. Our common goal is to help support great innovation in this region.”
Dave Barrett – General Partner, Polaris Venture Partners

“Great space is central to the TechStars program. The space becomes a home for the entrepreneurs and a base for the mentors who support them. By providing such wonderful space in a truly perfect location in Kendall Square, Microsoft and Boston Properties have given the TechStars Boston 2011 program a huge and important boost.”
Katie Rae – Managing Director, TechStars Boston
“Kendall Square and Cambridge Center are home to some of the best and brightest innovators in the country.  We look forward to seeing Dogpatch Labs and TechStars flourish at One Cambridge Center supported by high performance work space, NERD, and the positive momentum they bring to the community.”
David Provost– Senior Vice President, Leasing, Boston Properties

“Startups are out there changing the world and we are so excited to be able to help them. In addition to world class office space, Microsoft is offering software, support and connections through Microsoft BizSpark to help Dogpatch Labs and TechStars member companies succeed. We cannot wait to see the incredible innovations that will emerge”.
Abby Fichtner – Evangelist for Startups, Microsoft

To celebrate our newest residents of NERD, we will be hosting a welcome mixer on February, 3rd 2011 from 6-8pm at One Cambridge Center (6th floor). We look forward to seeing you all there!

Update: Register for the welcome mixer here.

Learn More Faster: TechStars for a Day

We were super excited to host TechStars for a Day in Boston which treated a few early bird applicants to a one-day minicamp of a day in the life of TechStars. We wanted to share a piece of that experience with you…

Bill Warner (TechStars Mentor who helped bring TS to Boston), Katie Rae (Managing Director, TS Boston), David Cohen (TS Founder)

Katie Rae, Managing Director for TechStars Boston, and David Cohen, TechStar’s Founder & CEO, were joined by mentors and alumni to give applicants a feel for what it’s like to spend an intensive 3 months in one of the top startup incubators. One which is said to be harder to get into then Harvard (they already have over 400 applications for Boston and expect 600 by the January 31st deadline. Only 10 will be selected into the program).

TechStars mentors offered sometimes whimsical, sometimes inspirational advice to founders:

Why would you do something that doesn’t matter when there are big problems you can be working on?” asked Jules Pieri of Daily Grommet.

Justin Siegel of MocoSpace taught us how to say no so we can focus on the important stuff, calling no a “proxy for focus.”

And Bill Warner lightened the afternoon’s tone by reminding us all to follow our hearts.

Alumni like John Laramie of AdStruc (Boulder TechStars class of 2010) shared their own experiences at TechStars: “One of the most moving things TechStars says to those they accept is ‘We didn’t invest in your ideas, we invested in you.’

Shane Taylor of ScriptPad (Boulder TechStars 2010) spoke of how unsustainable and unhealthy the rapid pace of TechStars is but how that’s the very beauty of the program, “It’s an awful experience, but it’s the most rewarding experience of your life.”

And some of the Boston TechStars 2010 alum talked of the great lengths they went through to participate. Leon Noel, CEO of SocialSci, took a leave of absence from Yale during the 2nd semester of his senior year (so close!). Daniel Sullivan, Founder of Appswell, had a baby and started TechStars within a 10 day period! Incredibly though, the relationships they formed were so close and valuable that even now, all 10 of the TechStars Boston 2010 class have remained within a 3 block radius of one another – some taking up residence at Dogpatch Labs Boston, others in Cambridge Innovation Center’s C3 coworking space.

But I think the most valuable part of the day was the networking that occurred, where applying startups had a chance to talk 1 on 1 with mentors and alumni alike to learn – as Bill Warner taught us – just how important the people really are.

Bon Voyage Gus

Today, we are both happy and sad to announce that Gus Weber has decided to leave Microsoft to become an entrepreneur in residence at Polaris Venture Partners. While we are sad to lose Gus and his unrivaled passion for the tech community, we are happy for Gus and the great opportunity he’ll have at Polaris Venture Partners, and also happy that he won’t be far away.

Two years ago, Gus joined NERD as our community relations manager responsible for building relationships with the local tech and Cambridge communities. Gus has been an extraordinary ambassador for NERD, and has built strong working relationships with many of you.

While Gus is leaving, our investments and commitment to the local tech ecosystem and Cambridge community remains as strong as ever. For the next three months, we have more than 60 events already scheduled, many of which are posted on our event calendar.  The NERD community team remains hard at work helping to ensure that our local tech ecosystem and Cambridge community continues to thrive.

From Gus: “Microsoft’s commitment to Massachusetts and the tech community made my job a joy.  Microsoft is a true citizen of the community and has backed many worthwhile efforts to strengthen the tech economy, whether they benefitted the company directly or not.”

You’ll continue to see the familiar faces of Chris Bowen (Developer Evangelist), Jim O’Neil (Developer Evangelist), Abby Fichtner  (Startup Evangelist), Edwin Guarin (Academic Evangelist), Alfred Thompson (Academic Developer Evangelist), Sara Spalding, (NERD Sr. Director), Paul Coebergh (NERD Sr. Marketing Manager), Leah Brunson (NERD Marketing Manager) and others out doing their work in the community.

We’ve already begun looking for a new community relations manager. You’ll see an updated job description on our website early next week. In the interim, if you know of a great candidate, please send them our way.