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Sparkcloud, angel money already in the bank, is first company to join TechStars Boston for 2010

Posted by Scott Kirsner  February 17, 2010 07:15 AM

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An Innovation Economy reader called my attention to this Craigslist posting yesterday from Sparkcloud, a very early-stage start-up company. In the ad, which seeks a "founding developer," the company mentions that it has been admitted into this year's TechStars Boston program, which offers mentorship and up to $18,000 in seed funding.

That makes Sparkcloud the first company we know of to be included in this year's program; director Shawn Broderick tells me that TechStars doesn't officially announce start-ups as they're selected, leaving decisions about publicity up to them.

Sparkcloud has also pocketed some angel funding from Bill Warner, founder of Avid Technology, who happens to shack up in the same Cambridge Coworking Center space as Sparkcloud founder Nick Tommarello.

What's Sparkcloud up to?

sparkcloud.jpg


Broadly, Tommarello says he's trying to build a site (and also an iPhone and iPad app) that will help people with similar interests who live near one another connect, either over hobbies or to share expertise. A skilled cook might offer cooking tutorials to others in the neighborhood (for free or for a small charge), or a realtor might share in-person advice with an interested group about how to get a mortgage and buy your first home. "Sparkcloud is very much about ways to meet people and feel more strongly connected," Tommarello says. "It's trying to get back to the way things were a hundred years ago, when you knew most of the people who lived in your town, and you were more integrated into your physical surroundings. The Web has gotten good at connecting us with people around the globe, but not so much in our neighborhood."

The beta version of the site seems geared to helping you find people nearby who are interested in a particular topic (like "baseball" or "entrepreneurship"), and there is also the concept of "Open Doors" (set times when you might be available to meet with others, teach a class, or share expertise on a topic) and "Missions" (tasks or to-dos that you can complete as an individual or as a group.) On your profile page, you can create or add icons that highlight what topics you're interested in.

Tommarello, a Babson alum who earlier was involved in launching the real-world gaming start-up Urban Interactive, says he only began building Sparkcloud in January, after fleshing out the idea late last year. Not bad progress for six weeks...

The company plans to launch in May.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com 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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