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Netflix for undies, and more, at Monday's Web Innovators Group

Posted by Scott Kirsner  June 10, 2010 03:20 PM

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asst-boxers.jpgI'm an unabashed promoter of the Web Innovators Group gatherings — especially to folks who are new to Boston, and even more especially to folks who've been here for eons but believe that we as a community don't know how to network. Just go to WebInno.

The free event brings nearly one thousand people to the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, to see three start-ups show off their products on-stage (the "main dishes"), and another six demo what they've built in a smaller room (the "side dishes.") Monday's event will feature DoInk, a site that aims to make animation as easy as creating a YouTube video; Milabra, an MIT spin-out that can analyze images on Web pages, in part to place relevant ads on those pages; and my favorite, Manpacks, a start-up based in Everglades City, Florida. Manpacks, "an automatic service for busy men," is like Netflix for underwear. You select a subscription level, and they send you a set of underwear, socks, and undershirts every three months. (Unlike Netflix, though, they don't want the goods back once you've used them.) Pay $24, and you get two sets of each, for instance. And it's up to you whether you get boxers or briefs, athletic socks or dress socks.

David Beisel, the Web Innovators Group founder who is planning to leave Venrock soon to form a new early-stage investment group, says that WebInno will go on. Beisel owns the event himself, separate from the venture firms he has worked for (Venrock, and prior to that, Masthead Venture Partners.) The events have had pretty steady sponsorship from law firms, banks, and tech biggies like Microsoft, Beisel says, adding in an e-mail, "WebInno is more than sufficiently well-funded to continue holding the events into the future," presumably with sponsorship from his new, as-yet-unnamed firm. (Beisel isn't officially confirming his plans to depart from Venrock now, or the timing.)

Miss this Monday's WebInno, and the next one doesn't roll around until September 13th.

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

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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More from Scott


March 3: Web Innovators Group
Demos, drinks, and schmoozing at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge.

March 7-8: MassDigi Game Challenge
Competition for aspiring game developers... plus panels and keynotes related to the business of play.

April 3-4: Mass Biotech Annual Meeting
Issues facing the region's life sciences community.