Notes from Dogpatch Labs’ Housewarming Party—and a List of Initial Inhabitants

Xconomy Boston — 

It was a cold and drizzly night (how’s that for original writing?) last Thursday, and I was running late. But Dogpatch Labs Cambridge was holding its housewarming party across the street from Xconomy World Headquarters, so I braved the elements to stop in.

I walked into a crowded house of 70 folks or so, boxes of pizza, ice tubs of beer, and a lot of energy in the funky space, which is nestled inside the offices of e-retail infrastructure company Allurent in the American Twine Building on Third Street here in Cambridge, MA.

Dogpatch is a workspace/incubator run by Polaris Venture Partners. I profiled the original Dog Patch Lab in San Francisco earlier this year, and then wrote about Dogpatch Cambridge when it was announced last month. There’s enough desk space for 15 or so people in a big open area. The idea is that entrepreneurs will come for a few months, work on their ideas, and hopefully emerge ready to take things to the next level. Polaris provides the space, Internet connections, and no doubt some advice free of charge, but takes no equity in the companies—trusting that good things will happen if the companies grow and need funding.

I grabbed a brew just in time for a short welcome by Polaris’ Dave Barrett, who told the crowd his firm was trying to create the same kind of nurturing atmosphere for nascent companies as in the heavily Internet-oriented San Francisco offices—except that Dogpatch Cambridge is meant to reflect the diversity of the local innovation community, with its expertise in energy and life sciences, as well the Web space. The lab will “pull on that” wider expertise, is how he put it.

DogpatchLabhousewarmingI then had a great time catching up with folks I knew, and meeting new entrepreneurs and other guests. Here are some notes and impressions:

—There are 16 Dogpatchers in what Barrett calls the “first pledge class.” (See the end of this story for a list of the current roster). Ten have started already, the rest are coming in this week. Over 100 teams have applied!

—Dogpatch keeps changing its name! It was originally Dog Patch Lab (singular). Then when the Cambridge branch opened, it became Dog Patch Labs. Now it is Dogpatch Labs. This is bad, because it makes it look like we journalists got things wrong in previous stories. (The Dogpatch website’s About page still says Dog Patch, by the way.)

—I also met Sami Shalabi, co-founder of Zingku, which did “supercharged” mobile text and picture messaging. Zingku was acquired by Google two years ago, and Shalabi works at Google in Kendall Square. He and Polaris’ Amir Nashat were college roommates at MIT.

–One of the newest Dogpatchers is Raj Aggarwal, of Localytics, which does analytics for mobile apps. Localytics was part of TechStars’ first Boston graduating class last month and just moved into the kennel last Wednesday.

—Speaking of TechStars, one Dogpatcher who wasn’t … Next Page »

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