Mass High Tech Article
MassChallenge reveals 110 incubator
By Galen Moore
Tech incubator and business plan competition MassChallenge announced the names of 110 finalist startups that will join it in its swanky digs on Fan Pier.
The initiative had originally planned to name 100 finalists from about 300 who applied to the program. The finalists will work together in an incubator established in 22,500 square feet on an upper story of the newly built One Marina Park Drive, and compete to be one of 10 companies that will share a $1 million top-prize pool. About 22 of the fledgling companies are coming from outside Massachusetts to participate in the program. To download the entire list of finalists in a PDF, click here.
The competition is less important than collaboration between the startups, said MassChallenge CEO John Harthorne. “As with any competition, the prize money is almost a ruse,” he said. “It’s the thing the magician waves in order to do the work with the other hand.”
Recent Babson College MBA graduate Candice Cabe, 30, was one of the 110 finalists, whose names will be posted online tomorrow. Her startup, going under the provisional name Day2Night Convertible Heels, is working to design women’s shoes that convert from high heels to flats. “I think the major thing is connections with people,” she said. “I’m not from the shoe industry so I need connections in the fashion world.”
Online ad services company InStream Media Inc., nonprofit lab equipment supplier Seeding Labs, personal mobile data application developer Zazu, crowdsourced car sharing company RelayRides, and Pearl’s Premium, makers of a water-saving type of grass seed, were among the startups selected to participate. At least two graduates of the TechStars incubator program are also among the MassChallenge finalists: mobile analytics startup Localytics Inc. and online radio publisher Loudcaster Inc.
MassChallenge has enjoyed the support of Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Marina Park Drive developer Joe Fallon has donated a two-year lease and a spartan build-out, which is about 90 percent complete. However, the new startup stimulus effort is still about a half a million short of its first-year $1.5 million fundraising goal.
“We haven’t really pushed as hard on that because we’ve been so focused on judging,” Harthorne said. “Now that we have entrants it becomes a lot easier because we have real stories to tell and real data.”
To make up the difference, MassChallenge is holding a fundraiser golf tournament at The International golf course in Bolton, Sept. 28, Harthorne said, in which startup teams will caddy the greens, pitching potential investors while retrieving their pitching wedges.
MassChallenge officially announced the competition and the incubator in April. The program operates as a non-profit and will take no equity in the startups funded. Its backers include Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), the Deshpande Foundation, Mass Tech Collaborative, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Solidworks Corp., a division of Dassault Systemes.