The following is a guest post by Ariel Diaz, a Boston based entrepreneur and PopSignal member.
I have been a pretty active member in Boston’s entrepreneurial ecosystem over the past 3 and a half years. Throughout this time there has been a slow but steady growth in the infrastructure and support network for early stage companies. But over the past 3-6 months, I have seen a very strong acceleration in those trends. I was chatting with Tim Rowe about this, who’s been closely involved in this community far longer than I, and he found that the amount of activity and events over the past few months has been “deafening”.
That got me thinking about what’s been changing, the key drivers and the key players bringing about that change, and how to keep this going to continue strengthening the ecosystem. This is the first of a 2-part series, and will focus on what’s changing. The second part will discuss the key drivers and reasons for these changes, and how to keep it going.
Here are some examples of what specifically has changed and accelerated over the past few months.
Networking Groups and Events
DartBoston has been evangelizing startups for over a year and Greenhorn Connect has launched a great community site back in Nov 09, but both have seen significant traffic increases to their websites in just the past two months. PopSignal, FoundersClub, MITX, BostonTweetUp, DrinkUpLinkUp and other groups have been accelerating their various efforts and increasing visibility. And Venture Cafe, which has been in the works for a while, recently opened an alpha site in the CIC, which has quickly become a solid ground for new and old in-person connections.
New Early Stage Capital and Models
One area that is consistently a challenge for startups is early stage capital outside of friends and family. Recently there has been a lot of interesting and open discussion about angel investment, including surveys about Boston’s Best Angels, and an upcoming Angel Boot Camp.
Additionally, many new early-stage funding models are springing up, from FounderCollective to TechStars, to MassChallenge, which could provide a very interesting source of capital, networking, and mentorship to a new wave of startups if they are able to pull off their ambitious goals. And I know there are a least a few new organizations springing up to tackle this very problem in the near future.
Office Space and Support Infrastructure
A few years ago, it was pretty much only BetaHouse and the CIC for tech shared spaces. Now DogPatch Labs is expanding, Bocoup Lofts is opening up, new ones are popping up, and people are even thinking about models to support free office space (see a full list of coworking spaces in Boston)
I’d love to hear about other groups and individuals that are also contributing, and stay tuned for part 2, to explore some of the reasons for these changes.