Last week we released VentureMap Boston, a detailed and interactive visualization of the many investments made in our very own tech hub. It maps hundreds of investors, thousands of startups, and the many thousands of connections (investments) between them.
We believe it’s extremely important to visualize these connections. For one, the innovation economy is like an exclusive club – great to be part of, but difficult to get into. Boston’s startup community in particular is very tight-knit, which is a good thing in many instances, but prohibitive for others. We believe there is a shared responsibility among existing startups and established investors to increase and improve access for others. Making the innovation economy more accessible to more people is just better for overall economic growth. A rising tide lifts all boats. (Do your part, Boston startup community!)
But I digress… back to VentureMap Boston. If you haven’t poked around yet, you can filter by investor type, industry, and the year that the startup was founded. You can also select multiple investors or businesses to focus only on those connections. There’s lots of ways to slice and dice the data when you start experimenting with different filters and search results. As Dharmesh Shah remarked on ProductHunt about VentureMap Boston, it’s a bit addicting.
We’ve played around with VentureMap quite a bit, and in doing so, have observed a few trends and some interesting findings. First things first, here is the map with ALL startups, investors, and connections visible.
That is a powerful, almost overwhelming, image when you really start to see how many investor types and businesses exist in our ecosystem. We did some of the browsing legwork for you – let’s dig in on some trends.
1. The Power of Angel Investors
For those unconvinced that angel investors are making a dent in our community, check out just how many investments are being made by individual angels and angel groups:
If you filter to angels, you can quickly see which individuals are the MOST connected angels in Boston based on the threads of connections visible on the map.
We were really surprised and impressed with a few prominent angel investors who are making some serious moves with local startups.
Local angel Joe Caruso has made a significant amount of investments on VentureMap Boston. He is known for being an advocate for entrepreneurs and has been heavily involved as a mentor, coach, and personal advisor to CEOs and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years, so it shouldn’t a surprise that he’s had his hand in a number of investments with companies like Pixability, HelpScout, Apperian, Mavrck, Localytics, and others.
We had a pretty good idea of just how connected Ty Danco is in the Boston startup community. In addition to being the Boston director for TechStars, he’s also a pretty active angel investor with many investments in companies like Drizly, lovepop, CO Everywhere, Tablelist, EverTrue, and more. We were lucky to have Ty as our partner on VentureMap Boston.
Jean is a powerhouse investor with an impressive career as a serial entrepreneur, co-founder of LearnLaunch, MIT Board Director, and more. She’s involved in many notable investments in Boston, such as InCrowd, Bridj, Localytics, WeSpire, and more.
Based in Belmont, Jere Doyle has made a number of individual investments and as part of his angel group, Jere Doyle Enterprises. He’s involved in funds for Privy, lovepop, Testive, Tettra, Grapevine, Crayon, and more.
2. University Accelerators are Legit
Check out all of the innovation that our local universities are churning out in the form of young startups. Northeastern University, MIT, and Harvard University are leading the way, providing not only support, in-kind resources, and educational experience, but actual capital to get these early-stage ventures off the ground. Experfy, The Welcoming Committee, Mavrck, Accion Systems, PreApps, CloudSolar, and more, are just some of the startups born out of these educational institutions.
3. TechStars and MassChallenge Rule Boston
Just as you thought, TechStars and MassChallenge are heavily connected to many Boston startups. They are a launching pad and a true resource as evidence by the attention and interest paid to each graduating class. Check out their investment nodes to get a sense of how involved they are in the hub – it’s crazy to see all of the startups that spun out from those organizations.
4. 2007-2008 was a slow time for investments, but not as slow as 2000-2001…
Market crashes and general times of financial instability of course have an impact on startup investments. With the tech bubble burst and the subsequent recession in 2000, as well as the housing bubble burst and subsequent credit crisis in 2008, we were curious what investments looked like in Boston during those time periods.
Here’s a filter looking at all types of investments in all industries, just for 2007-2008:
Now let’s look at 2000-2001:
Times were tough. It’s especially apparent when you compare those years to 2015-2016 (below), where you can see a real influx in investments and particularly the number of angel investors:
5. Consumer tech is surprisingly well funded
For a city known for it’s enterprise, healthcare, and bio startups, it’s interesting to see the number of consumer tech startups, and specifically, the important role that accelerators like MassChallenge and TechStars play in this industry.