This summer, Launcht is operating out of the Cambridge Innovation Center, located right on the Charles River next to Boston. Working together in the same space has been a welcome change for us, especially considering that Launcht spent its first year in the virtual space subsisting off of the free wifi of America’s coffee shops. Our coworking space offers a number of advantages, from tech support to free (free!) smoothies, ice cream, and Peanut M&Ms. Perhaps the greatest benefit of working in this space is our close proximity to the hundreds of social entrepreneurs who work in our building, putting our finger on the pulse of the Boston/Cambridge startup scene.
The CIC does its part to bring entrepreneurs together. The very nature of a coworking space encourages intercommunication, as we all work library-style in the same space as others every day, with no assigned seats or tables (although some people are more territorial than others). When eating lunch together and borrowing power cables from one another, it’s difficult to avoid discussing new projects and recent developments with total strangers. To top it off, every Thursday afternoon the CIC hosts a Venture Cafe for everyone in the coworking space with free (free!) beer from independent Boston-area breweries.
Thursday Venture Cafe events are a great opportunity to schmooze with tomorrow’s industry captains. Do a loop around the space and you’re bound to hear elevator pitches, rumors about the Next Big Thing, and general tech startup banter (“Did you see they’re installing new Windows at the Microsoft building in Kendall Square? [Insert smug Apple-user punchline here.]”) The atmosphere is so engaging and inviting that I find myself considering new business strategies for hypothetical companies that are fully formed in my head and at least five years off if they were ever put into practice.
It was during a Venture Cafe event that Launcht met the founders of a “microgiving” site called HelpAttack, which has its users donate money to causes in small increments according to their social media activity. Users set an upper limit on the amount they’re going to give, naturally, but the process of donating is incremental. For instance, you could pledge to give ten cents to the Best Friends Animal Society every time someone tweets with #BFF, with a max donation of $20. Launcht has also worked with other crowdfunding startups in the building, and we’re using the CIC’s social media site, ParallelCities, to broadcast our call for social entrepreneurs on the newly revamped Launcht.org platform.
Also in the building is a fellow Middlebury startup called GivingSomething, which is an online donation platform that has non-profits set up “Needs Lists” in the style of a wedding registry to allow for more transparent online donations. In my first day with Launcht we had lunch with Mike Stone and Dave Campbell, the founders of GivingSomething. The organization is growing by the day, gaining its largest and most recent client, the Humane Society, earlier this week. Later this month, Mike and Dave are headed on a seven-week-long Voluntour across the United States to volunteer, connect with non-profits, and spread the word about GivingSomething.
Outside of the CIC, the MassChallenge is heating up in the Boston Innovation District. According to its website, this is the world’s biggest startup accelerator and competition, and the first to support high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs with no strings attached. More than 1,000 startups applied for MC this year. Only 125 were selected for the three-month accelerator stage underway now. Teams are given mentors, office space, and advice from law firms as they attend workshops and events in preparation for the Final Judging in October.
The Boston/Cambridge area has been a great fit for Launcht this summer. With several new platforms powered by Launcht set to go live in the month of July alone, we’re ready to keep our momentum rolling deep into the summer months. The ever-electric startup atmosphere that surrounds us will continue to provide an energizing force moving forward.