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Could TechStars Boston actually be moving to Boston?

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 22, 2013 05:02 PM

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Since it launched in 2009, the TechStars Boston accelerator program, which cultivates and invests in fledgling businesses, has actually been a Cambridge-based organization.

But its days of shacking up with Microsoft in Kendall Square are numbered. And it looks like TechStars Boston might be on the verge of hopping the Red Line and relocating to the Leather District, near South Station. According to several real estate industry sources, TechStars is close to subletting space formerly occupied by the FlipKey unit of TripAdvisor at 179 Lincoln Street; the FlipKey team will be moving into new TripAdvisor space near North Station. TechStars will occupy about 12,000 square feet, and will share the space will be Startup Institute, a training program for would-be tech workers that originally sprang from TechStars Boston.

Katie Rae, managing director of TechStars Boston, wouldn't confirm the location, and she wasn't ready to talk about the new digs. But she did say that TechStars expects to move out of its current space sometime in mid-January, before its spring cohort of entrepreneurs arrives. The sublet on Lincoln Street would run through October 2015. Cassidy Turley, one of TechStars' sponsors, has been helping the accelerator with its lengthy search for a new home.

179 Lincoln is on the edge of the Leather District, facing Chinatown, and only a few blocks from South Station. Its a neighborhood that has attracted a new wave of startups as rents in Cambridge and the Innovation District have risen, including Rest Devices, Ministry of Supply, TurningArt, SpreadShirt, and Uber Boston. If TechStars nails down this lease, its building-mate at 179 Lincoln will be NextView Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund.

The challenge of finding a new home is one reason that TechStars has fallen off its pace of running two programs a year, in the spring and fall. "We didn't know if we' d have space for a fall program," says Rae, "and also, Reed [Sturtevant] and I needed a small break. There will be two classes next year, and what feels right to us is about a class every nine months. So some years, it'll be two classes, and some years it will be one." Sturtevant is the other managing director at TechStars Boston.

(The photo above is from TechStars' most recent demo day, held in May.)

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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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