Highlights from Scott Kirsner’s Innovation Economy blog.
The Future Boston Alliance, a nonprofit focused on improving Boston’s creative and entrepreneurial ecosystem, revealed last week the 25 businesses and nonprofits chosen for its new accelerator program.
The program starts Aug. 11 and runs every Saturday for six months. Participants are matched with mentors who will take them to at least one networking event, said Malia Lazu, the group’s director. Among the entrepreneurs who will run workshops for the participants are Bill Warner, an angel investor, and Alec Stern, a founder of the Waltham digital marketing company Constant Contact.
At the end of six months, one participant will get a year of free office space in the Back Bay (at the headquarters of Karmaloop, whose chief executive helped form the alliance), along with at least $5,000 in cash. Lazu says she is trying to increase that prize purse.
Below are five of the ventures that won admission to the program, with descriptions provided by their founders:
■ Dorchester’s Daughter Publishing: “Dorchester’s Daughter Publishing is a vendor for urban literature. Founded in 2009, the company seeks to produce and publish novels, essays, memoirs, and poetry compilations that reflect a more prolific, conscious message.”
■ ummFood: “When you are meeting up with a friend for lunch or dinner, what is the first thing you say? Typically it goes like: ‘Where do you want to go?’ ‘Umm, I don’t care, any ideas?’ This usually ends up with the people going to the same place as always. UmmFood randomizes a group of restaurants and selects one. With this random selection, a percent discount is given. This leads people to try new restaurants and break routines.”
■ Repat Inc: “Repat creates fair-wage jobs by upcycling excess textiles into fashionable and more functional clothing accessories. We partner with brands to turn their unsold inventory into an upcycled product that they can reintroduce to customers and give colleges a unique way to turn their excess into totes that can be distributed at events and to donors. All of our production is done in the United States, including NuPath, which employs people with disabilities in Woburn.”
■ Our Green Drive: “Our Green Drive is a start-up organization that will place the first ‘All Green’ food truck on Boston’s streets. The truck will embody America’s dream of a green economy by utilizing alternative energy sources, creating green jobs for young people, and supporting local agriculture.”
■ Press Pass TV: “Press Pass TV is a social enterprise that teaches youth media production focused on advocacy journalism to tell the stories of communities working for change.”
New tech workspace chooses director
The inaugural director of hack/reduce, a new “hackerspace” in Kendall Square, is Abby Fichtner. Until last month Fichtner was a Microsoft evangelist responsible for building and maintaining relationships in the local start-up community. She is also a co-organizer of Boston’s Lean Startup Circle.
Hack/reduce aims to be a central node of Boston’s burgeoning “big data” scene, serving as both a meeting place and office space for entrepreneurs and developers. It will also offer its members access to high-powered servers and data storage.
The new space has so far raised about $3 million from a group of venture capital firms and tech companies such as IBM, Dell, and EMC, says Chris Lynch of Atlas Venture, who has been spearheading fund-raising. And back in May, Governor Deval Patrick announced that the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative would give hack/reduce $50,000 over two years.
The prime movers behind hack/reduce are Lynch and Hopper founder Frederic Lalonde, who recently moved to Boston from Montreal. Steve Papa, cofounder and chief executive of Endeca, which is now part of Oracle, is an adviser.
On the choice of Fichtner to head hack/reduce, Lynch said: “We kissed a lot of frogs. We found good business people and super-technical people. But Abby already has a following, and she has experience building a community.”
Hack/reduce will be located in the Kendall Boiler & Tank Building, on the edge of Kendall Square.
Fichtner starts the new job this week.