Monday, February 16, 2009

Colorado-based TechStars Will Launch a Boston Program This Summer

Less than a month after Paul Graham announced that Y Combinator won't be running its summer start-up cultivation program in Cambridge, we learn that TechStars will fill that vacuum.

TechStars was founded by MIT alum Brad Feld, who also started his first company, a software consultancy, here.

TechStars is a bit younger than Y Combinator, having spooled up in 2007. But a dozen of the twenty companies that have been through TechStars thus far have received angel or venture funding, and two have been acquired. TechStars invests up to $18,000 in each company, offers lots of guidance and mentorship, and organizes a pitch session for prospective investors at the end of the summer.

It was one of those investors, Bill Warner, who helped bring TechStars to Boston. Warner put some money into Eventvue, and visited Colorado to chat with Feld last December. At the time, Warner didn't realize that YC would be eliminating its Cambridge summer program. He writes via e-mail, "...with YC already in place in Boston, and with the 2009 season already coming up, it didn't make sense to push for this year. [But] once YC decided to focus on Silicon Valley, [we] really ramped up our discussions."

They don't have a venue yet for the summer program, but applications are due by March 21st. Managing the program will be Shawn Broderick, CEO of TrustPlus, who worked with Feld earlier in his career.

Among the mentors for the new Boston program are Microsoft's Don Dodge, Lead Dog Ventures founder John Landry, iRobot CEO Colin Angle, Harmonix co-founder Eran Egozy, Nabeel Hyatt of Conduit Labs, and software exec Chris Heidelberger. The investors who'll be getting TechStars Boston off the ground include Feld and Warner, as well as Bijan Sabet of Spark Capital.

According to TechCrunch's report on the news, TechStars says that their "expansion into Boston has been in the works for about six months now, so Y Combinator’s decision didn’t play a role."

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

What to Do This Weekend With Your Kids, Woz, Bob Metcalfe, and Blue Man Group

On Friday or Saturday, take them to the FIRST regional robotics competition in Boston. (Other regionals around the country are listed here.)

If you haven't seen a FIRST robotics competition (created originally by MIT prof Woodie Flowers and inventor Dean Kamen), it'll blow your mind...and perhaps cause your offspring to become obsessed.

From the press release:

    BOSTON– March 26, 2008 – Over 1,000 area high school students will be competing in Boston’s largest robotics competition this week. The Boston FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition will take place at Boston University’s Agganis Arena Friday through Saturday, March 28-29, 2008. The event is free and open to the public.

    Blue Man Group, the multimedia entertainment phenomenon, will perform during the opening ceremony for the competition’s final matches: Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 12:45PM. This special live appearance will showcase Blue Man Group’s signature music and excitement.

    Over fifty teams spent six weeks designing and building robots to accomplish specific tasks outlined in this year’s game, “FIRST Overdrive.” The teams will compete for honors that recognize robot design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship and high-impact partnerships between schools, businesses and communities.

    The Boston FIRST Regional ( brings together student teams from across the region in an atmosphere that is described as “rock concert meets the Super Bowl mixed with science and technology.”

    Students competing in the competition will be able to interact with a number of the nation’s leading technology pioneers. This year’s judges include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, iRobot co-founder Colin Angle and Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe of Polaris Ventures.

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