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New Event Pokes Holes in Start-Ups, in a Positive Way

Posted by Scott Kirsner  August 20, 2009 12:15 PM

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One of the city's newest networking events is DartBoston, a gathering of young entrepreneurs and professionals who want to help each other get businesses off the ground.

"At the end of the day, we care about three things," the DartBoston Web site explains. "Making money. Having fun. Changing the world."

DartBoston gets together every Thursday night -- tonight included. The agenda includes the usual drinking and schmoozing. But they also do a live Webcast called "Pokin' Holes," where an entrepreneur presents a business idea and gets constructive feedback from a panel of experts. (No one, I'm told, tries to do a Simon Cowell impression.)

Tonight's gathering runs from 6:45 to 11 PM at The Landsdowne in the shadow of Fenway Park. The start-up presenting is Ferrari-4-Charity, and they'll be giving away a free Ferrari ride to some lucky attendee.

Entrepreneur Cort Johnson started the event with some friends back in May. "We started having some conversations in my apartment on Dartmouth Street, talking about what different people were working on, and how to get to revenue-positive," Johnson says. "We figured, 'We're doing these conversations, why not turn it into a show?'" This week will be the fifteenth weekly gathering. About 25 to 35 people show up, Johnson says, and before and after the Webcast they can ask questions of the presenting entrepreneur or offer advice of their own.

Part of the goal of DartBoston is to create an event that helps young entrepreneurs get some momentum, and build their businesses here in Boston. "We have fantastic talent in Boston," Johnson says. "But it's always a question of how do we keep it here." (Case in point: one of the four co-founders of DartBoston, social media specialist Alexa Scordato, moved back to New York recently to take a job with a public relations firm.) While the companies that present on "Pokin' Holes" are all started by people 30 and under, Johnson says that people of any age are welcome at the event.

Here's an episode of the "Pokin' Holes" show from earlier in August, focusing on the Internet animation start-up DoInk:

Johnson tells me he's working on a second start-up of his own. After helping to create goSwoop, which connects international students to U.S. universities, he's now working on Pique, a not-yet-launched start-up that will aim to make it easier for students to sublet their apartments.

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4 comments so far...
  1. We http:// appreciated the opportunity to present our technology company at the recent Dart Boston event. It was a great venue to not only present our web business (drawing & animation tools) but to also receive constructive feedback. Thanks to DartBoston for helping young entrepreneurs in the Boston area.

    Posted by Karen Miller August 20, 09 05:29 PM
  1. (corrected link)

    Posted by Karen Miller August 20, 09 05:41 PM
  1. Nice work Scott for picking this one up, and credit to Jake, Cort and Alexa for sticking with it. Dart Boston is definitely a great vehicle to bring together young entrepreneurial talent. It has the dual benefit of allowing already venture establishing entrepreneurs to get a real kick-along, as well as providing an interesting environment for those in the exploration phase. I look fwd to seeing it scale over time and there be more synergistic cross-pollination from students from different schools, and young upstarts from different industry backgrounds.

    Posted by Fan Bi August 20, 09 07:16 PM
  1. Many thanks for writing this up, Scott. It's always great to see something you're working on get recognized. Cort, Jake, Stu and I couldn't be more appreciative of this mention. I look forward to seeing our efforts grow in the coming months and new faces at events (you should come out next week!). Like Fan said above, it will be good to have more students get involved this coming school year. With over 250K undergrads in Boston, there's no shortage of young talent in the city. I may have left for New York, but I continue to be invested in Dart and the overall growth/innovation within the Boston community.


    Posted by Alexa Scordato August 21, 09 12:24 AM


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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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