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Name checks and pics: Tonight's Web Innovators Group gathering

Posted by Scott Kirsner  June 14, 2010 10:30 PM

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webinno.jpgBig crowd, as usual, for tonight's Web Innovators Group shindig at the Royal Sonesta... so big that apparently the hotel's parking garage was turning away cars.

The audience favorite among the three presenting companies, both based on applause during the demo and a quick text-message vote that takes place at every WebInno, was DoInk, a Waltham-based start-up that makes it easy to create and share online animations.

In the "side dish" room were six start-ups including RelayRides, a company I've written about here before, and BirchBox, an interesting NYC start-up that sends women samples of beauty products in a small box each month, in the hopes of turning them on to new brands. The service will cost about $10 per month.

Here's who I ran into at the event: 

Husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Jon Radoff and Angela Bull from Disruptor Beam... Nabeel Hyatt from Conduit Labs... Joselin Mane... Gemvara CEO Matt Lauzon... Mass Innovation Nights organizer Bobbie Carlton... Rebecca Xiong from Yana... Tom Summit of Genotrope... Nick MacShane from Progress Partners... Gopal Shenoy from Gazelle... Steve McAveeney from Autotegrity... Catherine Arnston of The Naughty Nutritionist... and Dharmesh Shah from HubSpot.

It felt like there were fewer VCs than usual (has the summer vacation season started already?), but new guy Andrew Parker from Spark Capital was there; it was his first day on the job after moving back to his home state of Massachusetts from New York. He compared WebInno to the NY Tech Meetup event in Manhattan, which apparently attracts a similar crowd. Rich Levandov from Avalon Ventures was there, too; his firm is in the midst of raising a new fund. Levandov is an investor in Zynga, the Silicon Valley "social gaming" start-up that is among the fastest-growing companies ever, and also Cloudant, subscription-based database service headquartered in Somerville that came through the Y Combinator program.

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PR/social media gurus Chuck Tanowitz and Doug Haslam were there, checking in on Foursquare. Haslam quipped that he recently realized it was time to get another haircut when he was ousted as the "mayor" of his local barbershop.







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Karen Miller, co-founder and president of DoInk, at the start-ups demo table.















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Coach Wei, founder and CEO of Yottaa, a Cambridge start-up funded this spring by General Catalyst and Stata Venture Partners.











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Allan Tear, one of the managing partners of the Providence-based start-up cultivation program Betaspring, which rented a small bus so that the folks participating in the program could come to WebInno tonight. Only a few extremely busy (and anti-social?) developers remained in Providence, he said.

















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Stephen Sopp and Trapper Markelz of the Boston-based site MeYou Health, launching its beta later this summer. The site aims to help users make better decisions about their health by blending game dynamics, competition, and social networking.










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At WebInno, entrepreneurs who are looking to hire people usually write the positions they're looking to fill on their name tags. Textaurant founder Josh Bob had written "Lion Tamer." OK, so what exactly does that mean? A head sales guy, Bob explained.

















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Hayley Barna of BirchBox.











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Eric Andersen of IBM showed off the fancy black card he'd received from Boloco for becoming the Foursquare mayor of the sandwich joint's Natick outlet; it gives him a 10 percent outlet at any of the chain's locations.

On the way out, I bumped into Rajat Suri, founder of the restaurant tech start-up E la Carte.





















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About Scott Kirsner

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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Events

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.

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