Highlights from Scott Kirsner’s Innovation Economy blog
Lauren Fitzgerald may have the glammest gig in Boston’s innovation economy: modeling for “flash sale” company Rue La La, which runs time-limited sales of high-end merchandise via its website and mobile app. Fitzgerald is an independent contractor, but she typically has photo shoots at Rue two to four days a week. “I’m at Rue for about 60 to 70 percent of my jobs,” she says. “It’s the most consistent client I have.”
When she first showed up to work for Rue in the spring of 2008, just after the site had launched, she didn’t know much about the company. “At that point, you didn’t really have anything to compare it to. Flash sales were just getting started,” she says. “I got a password, became a member, and I felt very elite.” Since then, Fitzgerald has become a familiar face to shoppers who receive Rue’s daily e-mail or access its mobile apps to see what’s on sale.
When we spoke on Wednesday, she was doing a shoot for Lilla P, a Manhattan-based label, and she had also recently modeled apparel from French Connection, Kay Unger, and Narcisso Rodriguez.
For a city like Boston, which isn’t home to many fashion magazines or major retailers, Rue has been “heaven-sent,” she says, creating work for models that doesn’t require travel. And Fitzgerald is a true local, having grown up in Medford.
Rue La La is 30 percent owned by the auction giant eBay, which this month began showcasing some of Rue’s merchandise .
Service offers premeeting briefings
If you sometimes wish you had an assistant to organize your day, PrepWork is worth checking out. The free service sends a daily e-mail that briefs you on the people you’ll be meeting with — highlights of their LinkedIn profiles, recent blog posts, Twitter activity, and company background.
Given access to your calendar (in Outlook, Google Calendar, or iCal), PrepWork scours it for names and e-mail addresses of those with whom you are to meet, and then goes off to do research. You can also simply forward an e-mail to PrepWork, and it’ll create a briefing on everyone who has been part of the conversation, and send it to all participants.
The site was created by Daniel Wolchonok, who is midway through the MBA program at Yale. He spent this past summer developing PrepWork at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, with a smidgen of university funding. He had previously studied computer science at Tufts; he grew up in Wellesley.
“Right now I’m in a user-growth phase, trying to demonstrate that I have the right strategy for acquiring users,” Wolchonok says. (Fund-raising will come later.)
He says he continues to enhance the service.
Hiring slows at Web, digital media firms
John Barrett of the executive search firm Cook Associates scours LinkedIn each quarter to understand hiring trends at ’Net and digital media firms in Boston and New York.
The news was not good in the third quarter: only 260 net new jobs were created among the 152 companies he tracks in Boston. That is just a 1.9 percent rise over where things were at the start of the quarter. Growth was stronger in Q1 and Q2: 8 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively. “This is not a sign of a healthy, growing sector, and it’s a result of VC investing being soft in Boston,” Barrett wrote in an e-mail.
The top 10 companies that saw the largest headcount gains in Boston for Q3 were:
6. Rue La La
8. Constant Contact
New on that list are Amazon, Rue La La, Karmaloop, and Jumptap.