Notes From The Web Innovators Meetup in Cambridge

January 30, 2008

I attended the Web Innovators Group meetup in Cambridge, MA tonight.

I'm a long-time attender of these meetings and can remember back to when all the attendees fit in a local bar.  I remember when presented at one of these back in the day (I was still in grad school at MIT at the time).  Seems so long ago...

The event is now HUGE.  I think 700+ people were registered, and my rough estimate is that about 400-500 people showed up.  That's big.  It's great to see this kind of energy in the Boston entrepreneurial community.  I think the event has always trended upward ever since I first started going in 2006.  Credit to David Beisel who originally put the group together.  He should be proud of how far this initiative has come.

Now, on to some of my thoughts from today's meeting.  (Note:  It's almost 2:00 a.m. as I write this, and it's been a long day, so apologies if I'm being overly critical on some points if there are no particularly insightful insights here).

I'm not going to write about the specific companies (others are sure to do that), but wanted to hilight a few thoughts and observations:

1.  All of three of the "main dish" companies were B2C. 

2.  I thought the ideas behind the companies were about what I've come to expect from Web Innovator's.  Mostly, this is a good thing.  Boston needs more consumer internet stuff (though I would like to see more focus on business models, B2B and other mundane things like revenues -- but I have a bias).

3.  The presentations last only 6 minutes each and are focused on the demo.  I like that.  No boring PowerPoint presentations.

4.  One of the companies tried to have two presenters up on stage.  I think that given the short time available, this is not optimal.  If you're presenting at a future session, my advice would be to have just one person present.

5.  Each of the "side dish" companies got a minute or so to talk about their idea.  I think this was a good thing.  Most of the time that I go to these things, I never really learn much about the

I had dinner after the event with a couple of web entrepreneurs (something I like to do regularly, but have less and less time for these days). 

One change I'd love to see:  I think in addition to fresh, new web companies, I think it would be useful to have one presentation from a Boston web startup success story.  One example would be StyleFeeder (which raised funding this week).  Although it helps to see all the energy in the room in terms of attendance, I think local entrepreneurs would also be inspired by hearing from folks that have pulled off some success.  We need all the confidence-building we can get.

If you're from the Boston area, and have not been to one of these Web Innovators meetups yet, I'd encourage you to check it out.  See you in April at the next one!

Written by Dharmesh Shah

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