Startups at any stage deal with a number of challenges every day—from marketing to raising funding—and without some help in those areas, they’re much less likely to take off. That’s where the accelerators, incubators and co-working spaces come in. And recently, the number of those spaces seems to have exploded in Boston—many of them industry-specific—to provide promising companies with expert guidance, a powerful network and other support. Or, even just an affordable office with sweet amenities.
Here are a few new options for Boston startups that have caught our attention over the past year.
Founded in 2010 by serial entrepreneur Elizabeth Varley and TechCrunch Europe editor Mike Butcher, the vision for TechHub was a place where like-minded movers and shakers in the tech community could connect and collaborate under one roof, while accelerating their business’ growth. Now the largest startup network in Europe, TechHub made its U.S. debut in March with a new workspace in Davis Square, Somerville. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick saw potential for TechHub in the Bay State when he visited the London location and became the Somerville location’s founding member. In addition to flexible workspace with meeting rooms, emergency stationary and a constant flow of coffee, TechHub offers members free tickets to all of its events, like weekly breakfasts, talks from successful founders, and Demo Nights, when they can check out what everyone else is working on. Another perk? All members are allowed to work at any of the other seven locations around the globe while traveling. All members also benefit from publicity through TechHub’s social media network, blog and newsletter. The annual membership fees for TechHub Somerville start at $450 (or $250 for current students).
This three-month accelerator just accepted its first cohort this past January, with all 15 startups originating from Spain. The program is designed to help international entrepreneurs overcome issues they face when coming to the U.S., from visa problems and cultural barriers to networking challenges. Now, just in time for its second class, Dat Venture has expanded to geographies outside of Spain, accepting companies from Israel, France, Colombia and the U.K. as well. The accelerator is now focusing on growth-stage startups with a validated business model that are seeking American customers, a Series A investment, or both.
Dat Venture—which covers flights and offers housing at Krash as well as office space at WeWork, enables founders to focus on building out their teams, fine-tuning their ideas and engaging both potential customers and investors. A demo day at the end of the program provides participating companies with exposure to the local startup community.
Located in Boston’s Financial District, this accelerator from Betaspring just launched in early June. RevUp is designed specifically for startups that are focusing on growth through revenue and increasing customer acquisition, and does not take equity—instead, companies that are participate return the $75,000 investment as a percentage of revenue as it scales over 26 months. Another aspect that differentiates this program is that it’s mission has nothing to do with unicorn hunting. And because the model doesn’t depend on exits, RevUp is able to work with a wider variety of companies. It’s a viable option for early stage companies that have either chosen to delay or forgo equity-based investment, or that have been underserved by VCs—but are still generating revenue (between $10,000 and $15,000 per month). RevUp is also unique in that it has been accelerating the first cohort of six to eight companies on a rolling basis. Those startups benefit from interactions with RevUp mentors, Betaspring alumni and the Betaspring leadership team as a group in both Boston and Providence. The accelerator adheres to a six-step process to help companies build internal and external resources, and is conducted primarily in a one-on-one format as opposed to big group sessions. RevUp is currently accepting applications for the program on a rolling basis through January 2016.
The world’s first neuroscience startup accelerator, NeuroLaunch just expanded to Boston in June. The founders and CEOs of the portfolio companies accepted into the program (which all come from the U.S.) spend one week immersed in the local biotech startup community, working to build a long-term community of stakeholders centering around neuro-innovation. NeuroLaunch arms startups with access to seed funding, mentors, a 90-day custom curriculum for business model validation, strategic partnerships, and direct intros to investors. Additionally, the accelerator has partnered with MIT, the Harvard i-Lab, Silicon Valley Bank and Foley Larder LLP. and will host networking events for its portfolio CEOs with neuroscience experts, venture capitalists and angel investors in the Boston area.
Located on the Landmark Center’s 8th floor, Hatch will take up more than 100,000 square feet when it opens in August. Its mission? To meet the needs of startups somewhere between co-working space and getting long-term office space. Entrepreneurs will benefit from immediate access to work space and a shared kitchen, flexible short-term leases (ranging from 12 months to 24 months) with no security deposit, utility pricing based on leased square footage, and of course, a phenomenal location in the heart of Fenway. Also, Hatch boasts a dedicated community manager and regular programming for the startups it houses. Toast, maker of restaurant management software, is expect to be its 1st tenant. Supposedly, the space will fit 10 to 12 companies and up to 600 – 700 employees total. Hatch is now accepting applications for space online.
This past May, The Fairmont Innovation Lab opened its doors with an aim of attracting entrepreneurs to Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. The lab, which is run by the nonprofit organization Artmorpheus and part of a larger project known as the Fairmount Cultural Corridor, is a unique cross-sector lab, incubator and accelerator. In March, it accepted 10 teams to its first class, all of which will benefit from co-working space, workshops, business services and networking opportunities. Applications are closed for the time being, but typically startups are eligible if they fit into creative industries and are less than one year old.
Just about a year ago, Coalition (based in New York City) launched a new location at 101 Arch St. in Downtown Crossing, and became the first co-working space in the New England area to accept Bitcoin. The company offers a wide variety of packages with different features and pricing to fit entrepreneurs’ needs. For example, the virtual office ($99/month)—which is designed for entrepreneurs who mainly work from home—includes a business mailing address, four hours of conference room time and WiFi. A private office ($1,450+/month), meanwhile, includes 10 hours of conference room use, dedicated space and an optional phone line for an extra monthly charge.
Inside the tower of a former Sears & Roebuck distribution center is a new incubator backed by Rue La La and Lids founder Ben Fischman and fellow Rue La La founding member Ted McNamara. There’s little info on Launch, which takes up about 7,000 square feet in the Fenway building, but what we do know is that it’s specifically for e-commerce companies, and that it will extend initial funding to those businesses (via General Catalyst Partners). But as opposed to having a slew of companies growing there at the same time, the idea is to fund and nurture between one and three per year. Fischman’s direct-to-consumer luxury footwear startup M.Gemi, unveiled in March, is the first business to be announced as part of Launch. Fischman reportedly plans to expand to other floors of the building—taking up roughly 15,000 additional square feet—as its startups grow.
Featured photo courtesy of Launch. Other images via Coalition, TechHub, and NeuroLaunch.