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Formspring

Dogpatch Labs Updates Heading into 2011

As we head into 2010 winds up and we head into 2011, there is a lot of terrific news coming out of Dogpatch Labs. Here is a sampling from just the last couple weeks in Dogpatch Labs San Francisco. Of course, I have missed several exciting updates... and I apologize! We look forward to a terrific 2011! There are several great new companies and entrepreneurs joining in January. Dogpatch Labs New York is currently taking applications (apply here) and you can always drop me a note for San Francisco here.

End of 2010 Dogpatch Labs Updates:

- Movity was acquired by Trulia earlier in the week (Movity is also a Polaris company). Read more...

- Instagram hit 1,000,000 users. Read more...

- Curated shopping site Everlane soft launched this week

- Trazzler launched a deal platform specifically for travel

- ChompOn launched a couple killer partners. Read more....

- Cardpool released a new marketplace version yesterday. Read more...

- Stickybits released a totally new iphone version to great brand feedback (Note: a Polaris company). Read more...

- Frid.ge released an enhanced version of http://frid.ge, including full email integration (Note: a Polaris company)

- AllTrails has the #1 noteworthy iphone app in travel. Download here...

- Fanvibe released a new iphone version and NBA integration. Read more...

- Yardsellr and Formspring recently closed follow on rounds of funding. (Note: Formspring is a Polaris company) Read more here and here...

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.

Join Two Amazing Companies: Formpsring and ShoeDazzle

I have been slow to update my blog's "job board"... but have two great companies and opportunities to add to the list. I am fortunate to spend time with each of these companies: excellent products, teams and communities. Job specs are below. If you are interested in either company, please let me know directly: rspoon @ polarisventures

Formspring is a social question & answer service that has seen meteoric growth (my blog post here). They are looking for engineers and designers to join them in San Francisco. It is a terrific opportunity to be part of a fast-growing company and build large, impactful products that touch 10m's of users:

- Jr. Software Engineer (PHP) - Senior Designer - Sr. Software Engineer (PHP) - Systems Engineer

ShoeDazzle is a monthly online shoe society, working with a team of Hollywood stylists to choose shoes for each member every month based on the member’s unique fashion personality. ShoeDazzle delivers unique products (stylized shoes) in a unique experience (monthly and at a fixed price of $39.95)... and their community is active, passionate and excited (50,000+ Facebook Fans).

ShoeDazzle is looking for a Director of Social Media & Community. Details are below:

The Director of Community and Social Media will be ShoeDazzle’s social media maven. This person will drive the development and implementation of all social media marketing programs and expand ShoeDazzle’s web presence and user base. The position takes ownership of all marketing efforts on social mediums including blogs and viral marketing campaigns for ShoeDazzle.

Responsibilities - Create and execute ShoeDazzle’s social media strategy that will exponentially grow the user base - Be the company’s expert on understanding social media marketing and functionality on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress, and other core social platforms. - Responsible for aggressively using social media to drive consumer engagement and grow ShoeDazzle’s online community. - Produce innovative, efficient and measurable social media programs that will engage ShoeDazzle’s users - Drive viral marketing campaigns using social networking tools - Develop and drive events, contests, promotions and incentives to keep the ShoeDazzle community actively engaged - Work cross-functionally with the Marketing, PR and Creative teams to develop tools to support social media initiatives (i.e. landing pages for social media contests, offline promotions, etc) - Increase customer life time value through targeted customer communications and appropriate incentives and promotions - Managed and produce regular contributions to blogs and social networks that will interact and communicate with the community, expanding ShoeDazzle’s web presence - Responsible for analyzing and monitoring web metrics (e.g. page views, Twitter followers, fans) and strategizing web content accordingly while providing reports to senior management - Identify and implement weekly, daily and often real time content updates - Stay up to date on social media tools online communities and share knowledge with the rest of the organization

Experience - 5-7 years of online marketing experience with 2-3 years of social media marketing preferred - Possess a keen understanding of social media’s added value to ShoeDazzle’s product offering since it is an integral part of how customers engage with the company - Expertise around crafting and executing user acquisition and retention campaigns on social media platforms - Demonstrated ability to develop and execute marketing strategies, with measurable and consistent results - Ability to manage social applications effectively with an expert understanding of the technologies deployed by social media - Deep understanding of social network structures with experience effectively using social media/Web 2.0 tools to effectively communicate and build relationships - Familiarity with dynamics of ROI/metrics related to social media channels

Skills

- An analytical mindset is a MUST! It is critical this person test, test and retest marketing campaigns - A charismatic, credible communicator who can lead by example - Have excellent communication skills – written, verbal, presentation and interpersonal - Strong organizational skills with attention to detail, operates with urgency, focus and discipline - Have the ability to thrive in a high energy, fast growth, entrepreneurial environment - Hands-on; completes tasks and dependable - Strong team player who can build strong relationships at all levels of the organization - A cost conscious, proactive problem solver who can maximize the resources of a start-up - Ethical, fair and of high integrity

Compensation: VERY competitive + equity

New Additions to Dogpatch Labs SF: Burbn, Cardpool, Formspring & More

I have been delinquent in updating this blog with recent additions to Dogpatch Labs San Francisco... so here are five companies that have taken home at Dogpatch Labs over the last couple months (and I'll try to provide more frequent updates!) Burbn is a new way to communicate + share in the real world.

Cardpool is a gift card exchange service where anyone can buy, sell, or trade their gift cards in a safe and secure environment.

Formspring: Ask questions, give answers and learn more about your friends..

ProfessionL centralizes all your recruitment management needs into one unified web-based software application that can be used by any business that recruits (including recruitment specialists).

Rosepad is an education platform for secondary schools.

Polaris is Excited to Back Formspring.me

Yesterday, Formspring (http://www.formspring.me) announced a $2.5m Series A investment that was led by Baseline Ventures and FreeStyle Capital. Polaris is excited to also participate alongside a slew of terrific angel investors: Ron Conway’s SV Angels, Maples Investments, Chris Sacca’s Lowercase Capital, Kevin Rose, Travis Kalanick, Dave Morin and Scott Dorsey. Formspring is a social Q&A platform that makes it very simple to ask questions and receive answers from targeted users. Through Facebook Connect and Twitter , answers arrive almost instantly; and thanks to Formspring's large network, users and answers are highly targeted. The combination of:

- a simple user-experience - a clear consumer impulse (questions / answers) - that delivers immediate gratification - in a viral and social way

... has translated into significant growth. Since their November 25th launch, Formspring now reaches over 44m users and had over 300m questions answered. For a taste of their size, search for Formpsring.me on Twitter ... you will notice 100s of posts each minute:

Whether you are looking for creative direction or seeking input on a specific topic, I encourage you to give Formspring a spin.

More reading: VCMike: Why Polaris is Backing Formspring