Polaris Ventures Doubling Capacity at Dogpatch Labs in Cambridge

Polaris Venture Partners of Waltham, MA, opened its first Dogpatch Labs startup incubator space in San Francisco in late 2007. A Cambridge, MA, version opened last September, followed by a New York edition in December, and together the three locations are now home to about 100 entrepreneurs, according to Polaris general partner David Barrett. But the number is about to go up: Barrett says Polaris is about to triple the amount of space it’s renting from host Allurent for the Cambridge incubator, from 2,300 square feet to more than 7,000 square feet, creating room for another 30 desks, on top of the existing 20, and twice as many startup teams.

Right now there are 11 teams at Dogpatch Labs Cambridge, compared to 20 in San Francisco and 13 in New York. “We are trying to bring all three spaces into equity,” says Barrett. “We’re excited, because not only can we now encourage more great people to come in, but it will allow us to do a better job of hosting community events and providing space for entrepreneurs to just hang out.”

At the same time, Polaris announced a corporate partnership program designed to give major technology companies greater access to Dogpatch entrepreneurs, and vice versa. The first partner is Microsoft, through its New England Research and Development Center, just a few blocks away in Kendall Square.

Dogpatch Labs CambridgeBarrett says Polaris and Microsoft will plan joint events such as executive conferences and meetups for Microsoft’s BizSpark program, which is intended to help startup developers adopt Microsoft tools and platforms. “That gives entrepreneurs in the Dogpatch community access to directional guidance from Microsoft if they’re developing for platforms like .NET or Azure, or if they’re trying to build a business supported by Microsoft,” Barrett says. (Microsoft’s Gus Weber has blogged about the announcement here. “When Dave Barrett approached us about Microsoft becoming a formal sponsor of DPL, our missions around supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem were so close that it was a no brainer,” Weber writes.)

The expansion is a sign that the overall Dogpatch initiative—an example of what Polaris partners call “open source entrepreneurship“—is working more or less the way the firm hoped it would. That’s not to say that the incubators have yet produced companies that became investment home runs for Polaris. It’s far too early for that, and in any case, there’s no explicit agreement that Polaris will invest in Dogpatch companies, who tend to stay in residence for about six months, or even that it will have first crack at funding them. But the incubators do give the venture firm access to a steady stream of young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs, as well as a window on the hot technologies and platforms they’re exploring, from Facebook to Google Wave.

“We think it’s working for everyone so far,” says Barrett. “It’s very early, and no one wants to claim victory, but we are very encouraged by what’s going on.” The main measure of the labs’ success, Barrett says, is that more than 10 Dogpatch resident or alumni startups have won … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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2 responses to “Polaris Ventures Doubling Capacity at Dogpatch Labs in Cambridge”

  1. Dan Croak says:

    “Open source entrepreneurship” on the Microsoft stack sounds funny. Tough sell. Definitely see far more Boston “entrepreneurial” developers on open source technologies.

    God bless Microsoft and all the events they’ve been holding at the NERD Center but their technology isn’t very compelling right now compared to Linux, Ruby, Javascript, HTML5, CSS3, Postgres, MongoDB, Redis, and on and on.