Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 16th: Coffee for No Reason

What if a bunch of us descended on the Cosi in Kendall Square to have coffee together for absolutely no reason?

That would sort of be fun, especially if it was a Friday morning.

Here's how it will work:

Jimmy Guterman and I are hosting. (Jimmy is an editor at MIT's Sloan Management Review, former rock-and-roll tour manager, and author of a really great book on Springsteen.)

We'll be there from 9 to 11 AM on Friday, October 16th. We'll try to grab a table in the dead center of the restaurant's front room. You'll find our pictures below so you can recognize us. Come up and say hi, or introduce yourself to someone who looks like they are part of this craziness.

I'm bringing a stack of brand new hardcover business and tech books that have been sent to me as "review copies." Grab one that looks interesting. (If you feel inclined to write a review -- ideally in 300 words or less -- I'll happily post it or link to it.)

More enticingly, Jimmy is bringing a few free copies of an album he produced: "The Sandinista Project," a tribute to The Clash.

(And if you have something you'd like to give away for free, bring it! There's also an open WiFi network that usually works, in case you want to bring a laptop and do some demos.)

But mostly this is just a chance to meet some interesting people (most of whom work or hang out in Kendall Square) and introduce them to one another... and goof off on a Friday morning. No content, no sponsors, no agenda, no nothing. Just a social-media-driven coffee klatsch.

[ PR Folks: You're welcome to come, but please don't view this as an opportunity to pitch two of the dimmer members of Boston's journalistic firmament. ]

Here's Jimmy:

Here's me:

See you there (and feel free to spread the word...)

The Twitter hash tag, of course, is #CFNR (Coffee for No Reason).

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Creating an Entrepreneur's Clubhouse in Kendall Square

Kendall Square is one of the densest collections of smart people, start-up companies, larger tech and biotech firms, and research labs in the country. Pick any square mile of Silicon Valley and I doubt you'd find such a heterogeneous hive of activity.

But one thing Kendall Square lacks is a hang-out geared expressly to entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors. (I've been harping on this topic for eight years now.) Yes, if you work in the Cambridge Innovation Center, the kitchen areas there are nice gathering spots. Yes, if you go to MIT or know how to find it, the Muddy Charles Pub is a fine place to have a pint. Sure, during a busy lunch hour, you're likely to see plenty of people you know at Legal's or Emma's or Black Sheep or the Starbucks in the Marriott or the Au Bon Pain, or maybe standing in line at one of the square's many lunch trucks.

But if you want to hang with other people starting companies, swap ideas, meet some new folks, do a laptop demo, or work for a few hours, there's no place specifically built for that. Where's the clubhouse for entrepreneurs?

Tim Rowe, founder of the Cambridge Innovation Center and a partner at New Atlantic Ventures, is working to create one. The working name is "The Venture Café," and he has just set up a Facebook group to solicit your ideas for a name, location, and the features that would make it a success.

Tim's definition of the project: "This project seeks to create a large-format, fun 'hangout' place in Kendall Square, open early til very late, where the innovation and entrepreneurship community can come together." See this discussion page for more info, or to contribute your ideas.

"In terms of financing it," Rowe writes, "we're hoping to have this jointly owned by a broad cross section of entrepreneurs and others active in the innovation community. Hopefully, this can be 'owned by all' rather than becoming the province of a select few." Rowe has already been having some productive talks with a few initial investors.

Count me as a supporter.

(Note: The Venture Café is also the title of a great book about entrepreneurship by ex-Bostonian Teresa Esser, presently in exile in Milwaukee.)

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