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LearnBoost

3 Dogpatch Companies in RWW's Top 10 Startups of 2010

Today tech blog ReadWriteWeb wrote about the Top 10 Startups of 2010. Three Dogpatch Labs San Francisco companies made that list: Instagram, Learnboost and Rapportive. I have copied a small excerpt about each company but encourage you to read the entire post:

Instagram: Photo Sharing Goes Viral i can't look at my Twitter or Facebook stream without seeing a flurry of shared links from Instagram. And I even confessed in October, the app has made me an iPhone photo addict. The free app allows users to snap photos, apply one of 11 filters, and then quickly and easily publish them to a variety of social networks, as well as follow, comment, and like within the app itself....

Rapportive: The Gmail Plug-in I Am Thankful for Every Day Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote this headline back in March: "Stop What You Are Doing & Install This Plug-in: Rapportive. And honestly, I'd issue the same command today. Rapportive replaces the ads in your Gmail side bar - which is cool enough right there - but then, it fills that space with a wealth of info - a picture of the person who sent you an email, their job title from LinkedIn, recent Twitter messages they've sent and more...

LearnBoost: Bringing the Teacher Gradebook to the Web with Open Source Like Hipmunk, LearnBoost is tackling a space that may not be particularly sexy - Web-based classroom administration tools. But tracking grades and attendance is an important, if not cumbersome, responsibility of teachers, many of whom still use the paper-and-pencil gradebook for record-keeping...

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.

Congratulations to LearnBoost

Dogpatch Labs San Francisco resident LearnBoost announced today that they have raised $975,000 in seed funding. LearnBoost is an online gradebook for teachers. The product is remarkably slick, integrates with Google Apps and functions both on web and mobile (including the iPad). Congrats to the team. What is LearnBoost? LearnBoost’s product allows teachers to manage their classroom by offering an amazing gradebook and software for managing and creating lesson plans, tracking attendance, maintaining schedules, integrating calendars including Google calendars, seamless tagging of Common Core State Standards, and so much more.

Who are the investors? LearnBoost raised a seed round from leading venture capital firms such as Bessemer Venture Partners, Charles River Ventures, RRE Ventures, and Atlas Ventures. LearnBoost’s angel investors include Naval Ravikant, Bill Lee, James Hong, Karl Jacob, and others. Full TechCrunch coverage is here.

Announcing Dogpatch Labs San Francisco Roster

We are excited to announce the newest Dogpatch Labs class here in San Francisco. It includes entrepreneurs and companies that have been part of the lab over the last few months and those that just recently joined (new additions: AdCru, Animoto, Burbn, FanPop, JibJab, LearnBoost, Milennial Media, Recruly, StickyBits, Task Rabbit and Wild Pockets). As always, we look for great, exciting entrepreneurs who thrive in open and collaborative environments. And we aim to have a diverse collection of individuals, companies and verticals. The current batch of residents certainly represents that! You can view the TechCrunch write up here and rosters of all three Dogpatch Labs here.

Dogpatch San Francisco

AdCru is a pay-per-follower ad network for Twitter founded in September 2009.


Animoto (San Francisco) generates custom, professional-looking slideshows from user-uploaded music and photos. Their “patent-pending Cinematic Artificial Intelligence technology and high-end motion design” drives the web app. (TechCrunch coverage)
Burbn is a new way to communicate + share in the real world. (TechCrunch coverage)
Cardpool is a gift card exchange service where anyone can buy, sell, or trade their gift cards in a safe and secure environment. (TechCrunch coverage)
EGG HAUS is an interactive agency. We help our clients create and deploy engaging branded experiences on every consumer platform.
FanPop is a network of user-generated fan clubs for different topics of interest created and maintained by the community of fans.
FanPulse welcomes you to your world of sports. FanPulse (launching January 2010) is a new sports-service that lets you easily follow the sports you love and talk about them with your real friends. (TechCrunch coverage)
Formative Labs - working on ideas that solve problems and change consumer behaviors.
Formspring: Ask questions, give answers and learn more about your friends. (TechCrunch coverage)
Hollrr - Want to help your friends discover a great new product? A quick Hollrr is the easiest way to let them know what deserves a shout out. (TechCrunch coverage)
JibJab (San Francisco): Headquartered in Santa Monica and founded by Gregg and Evan Spiridellis, and backed by Polaris, JibJab is a leading e-Card business. (TechCrunch coverage)
LearnBoost is an education platform for secondary schools.
Millennial Media delivers the largest reach – 83% of the US mobile audience – through the largest mobile advertising network in the US. (TechCrunch coverage)
Mr. Tweet looks through your extended network to help you find effective relationships and information most relevant to yourself.
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).
Recurly makes subscription billing easy for developers and organizations of all sizes.. (TechCrunch coverage)
The Start Project - turning ideas into action. (TechCrunch coverage)
Stickybits brings the physical and digital worlds together with barcode stickers which trigger audio, video, photo, and text messages when scanned. (TechCrunch coverage)
startupSQUARE is a marketplace where entrepreneurs can meet one another and brainstorm their next big business idea.
TaskRabbit(formerly runmyerrand.com) helps individuals and small businesses in a community outsource their tasks and deliveries, leveraging the latest technology and the social networking paradigm.
Trazzler helps you answer one question, "Where should I go?" by recommending trips unique to your location and Travel Personality.
Twylah: your personal assistant on twitter.
Wild Pockets is an end to end solution that supports creators throughout the life cycle of 3D game development
Yardsellr - In the tradition of neighborhood garage- and yard-sales, Yardsellr makes it easy for you to list and sell, or find and buy whatever you want. Yardsellr helps spread the word about your item within your online "neighborhood" – social and messaging networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google.