27 November

Dogpatch Labs: A Deeper Look & Founders’ Perspective

Earlier this week, Business Insider ran an article about Dogpatch Labs (read here) that was neither well researched nor accurate.

I believe the story’s tone would have changed had they researched the companies’ fundraising history and spoken with their founders (present and former). I have written on these subjects before:

1. The relationship between Dogpatch Labs and Polaris Ventures
2. The benefits of working at Dogpatch Labs

In short: over the last two years, over 35 Dogpatch Labs companies have received funding… and that is in San Francisco alone. Funding has come from angel investors, “super angels” and venture capitalists. Across the three Dogpatch Labs collectively (SF, NYC and Boston), Polaris has participated in the funding of eight companies.

And many of those companies have already gone on to achieve great success. There have been:

- Exits: AppJet, Brizzly / ThingLabs
– Remarkable growth: Instagram, Formspring, Yardsellr etc
– TechCrunch 50 spotlights: Chompon, SnapDragon, and others to be named
– YCombinator graduates: Appjet, Movity, Frid.ge
– Venture rounds from firms other than Polaris: Yardsellr, Animoto, TaskRabbit, Learnboost, Zozi, GroupCommerce, Trazzler, WildPockets, etc
Examples of those firms: Accel, Andreessen-Horowitz, Baseline, CRV, Crosscut, 500 Startups, First Round, Floodgate, Freestyle, Lowercase, Madrona, Redpoint, SV Angel, etc.

Why go at length to outline this? First, we are entirely transparent at Dogpatch and this post should be no different. Second – and more importantly – we take no credit for the success of Dogpatch Labs companies… that should be credited to the community and the companies themselves.

If you read the residents’ comments on Business Insider or the Quora posts (here and here), you will understand that the benefit of Dogpatch Labs is from the community and environment. Founders are from Google, eBay, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, AdMob, Imeem, Slide, and other great companies. These founders join the lab to be in a collaborative, diverse environment.

Of course, Dogpatch’s shared space is not for everyone… and it self-selects rather easily. But two years into the effort, the majority of new residents are direct referrals from other residents (past and current). In my opinion, that is the single best indicator of success.

Lastly, here are a few select comments from:

Sam Yam, Chompon: As for the community itself, it was an amazing resource and opportunity being able to ping others for feedback and specific expertise. The entrepreneurs here are talented, hard-working, and perhaps most importantly, open to working with others, which is refreshing in an ecosystem often apt to guarding with suspicion and *stealth operations*.

Dan Burkhart, Recurly: First of all, DogPatch is an open environment. Open seating encourages networking, relationship-building, open conversations and idea sharing. DogPatch in San Francisco has quickly become a networking hub for startups and Angels alike. In fact, Polaris encourages events focused on fundraising and is deliberately open and inclusive of the Angel investor community. (In San Francisco, DPL frequently hosts rapid fire pitch events to help connect entrepreneurs with interested investors…..and the investors are not hacks, but rather THE guys you want to meet. The connections made from these kinds of events are super valuable.)…

[Dogpatch] and has quickly become a coveted ‘center of excellence’ for entrepreneurs who are looking to benefit from being right in the middle of the action. There are far more entrepreneurs looking to get IN rather than OUT …and that says it all.

Kamal Ravikant: Dogpatch is an extremely collaborative space. For me, it was always a personal think tank of incredibly smart and motivated people, all working on interesting problems….In a nutshell, entrepreneurs are damn lucky that Dogpatch exists. I’ve seen great friendships come out of there, as well as companies evolve in ways they never could have if they were locked up by themselves.

David Hegarty, SnapDragon Contrary to what the article suggests, I have actually found that being a ‘Dogpatch Company’ gives a great stamp of approval, and has opened the door to many investors I would not have been able to meet otherwise. In fact, Dogpatch has done such a good job of attracting great companies, that many angels and other investors come to the space just to meet the entrepreneurs and companies that are there.

Even though we are not a Polaris company, I have also felt that Mike and Ryan were personally invested in the success of our company. They stuck by us through 3 different pivots as we tried to find the right business/product, even when one of those pivots came very close to competing with one of their portfolio companies.

I couldn’t recommend Dogpatch more highly to any entrepreneurs starting up. And it looks like I don’t even have too…. every week I am flooded with emails on ‘how do I get into Dogpatch?’.

Ming Yeow Ng: The second most important benefit is really people. It is no exaggeration to say that Dogpatch has easily one of the highest concentration of amazing people anywhere in the bay area. Let me explain why:

- Pool of great entrepreneurs who are top of their game.

Over the last few months, I got onto really good terms with a whole range of excellent entrepreneurs, like etherpad, cardpool, learnboost (amongst many others whom you might not have heard of) For example, I am totally digging having access to the Learnboost team – they are doing cutting edge magic around javascript, and mongodb, and it is amazing discussing these technologies with them. Another example is Rob from EggHaus, who is definitely one of the top few designers in the valley.

- Peers who can take shit and give you shit

Honestly, startup is tough. Overnight successes are fascinating, but most require grinding through several iterations. The group at Dogpatch are not random entrepreneurs – most of us have had our fair share of great successes and major failures. You would get blunt feedback about where you are fucking up and you would get lots of encouragement – cause everyone here knows there is no magic bullet.

- Streaming pool of top investors.

This is really up to you to make the best of it, but lots of top angel investors drop by the lab. Being part of the lab gives you credibility, and it makes getting to know these guys far easier.

- Great events right beside you.

Free beer, fun people within a 20 foot radius, twice a week.

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