Thursday will go down as one of the best examples of all that is right in the Boston tech and innovation community and made clear that the momentum that everyone in the “Innovation Economy” has been talking about for a couple of years now is, in fact, very real.
About midday yesterday, miles apart, the Boston TechJam officially kicked off with the “Pitch Contest Heard ‘Round the World” in a packed Faneuil Hall, and local media company Streetwise Media began its BostInno State of Innovation conference at the Westin in the Seaport. Both events were heavily attended, with many folks trekking back and forth between City Hall Plaza and the Innovation District, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
TechJam’s Historic Pitch
TechJam’s pitch contest mixed startup pitches from companies Sharalike, Moodsnap, Increment, Energy Harvesters, high school startup SKARA/Time Out, and BitCoin Nation, with talks from local entrepreneurs and thought leaders such as Harpoon’s Richard Doyle, Constant Contact’s Andy Miller, and Blade design guy Brian Kalma, among others.
With the historic backdrop of Faneuil Hall, company founders pitched to (and were grilled by) a panel comprised of Rough Draft Ventures’ Peter Boyce II, Common Angels’ James Geshwiler, Chip Hazard of Flybridge, and Katie Rae, formerly of Techstars. Although all the companies seemed to impress the judges, ultimately, personal image slideshow startup Sharalike was picked as the winner of the contest, which was awarded later in the day by Mayor Walsh at the actual TechJam celebration on City Hall Plaza.
(One of the most interesting pitches, that didn’t win, had to be from virtual currency ATM software company BitCoin Nation.)
BostInno Brings Boston Together
While the TechJam pitch contest was taking place, BostInno was holding its massive tech and innovation conference in the Seaport, filling up the halls and conference rooms at the Westin. Kicked off with a live version of Streetwise Media execs Chase Garbarino and Greg Gomer’s “BostInno Beat Live,” the event featured talks from Mayor Walsh and Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, Kraft Group president Jonathan Kraft, and AngelList founder Naval Ravikant.
All the breakout panels were quite interesting, and none was better attended than the one featuring New England Patriot Julian Edelman, George Foreman III, and CoachUp founder Jordan Fliegel.
Good Times at City Hall
Foreman III was among a large contingent that hit up the City Hall Plaza TechJam celebration after the State of Innovation excitement died down. That group also included TUGG’s David Brown, Wayfair co-founder Steve Conine, and a host of others.
TechJam not only filled the plaza with noise, but seemed to typify the huge amount of positive energy that the Boston tech community is feeling right now. (Especially with the rumored soon-to-be-announced IPOs of companies such as HubSpot and Wayfair.)
With music in the background, a lineup of some of Boston’s best food trucks, and a healthy infusion of an array of Harpoon beers adding to the experience, local companies talked up their great business models to prospective employees, hosted a variety of carnival games and backyard competitions (the bean-bag toss game Cornhole was ever-present), and just seemed to be having a great time.
Among those with big presences at TechJam were Manchester, N.H.-based Dyn, the aforementioned HubSpot and Wayfair, CO Everywhere, EnerNOC, Monster, and dozens of other local tech companies.
The enthusiasm that everyone was feeling was best typified by Wayfair’s Steve Conine, who, fresh from speaking on a panel with Actifio’s Mike Troiano at the BostInno fest, welcomed everyone to TechJam, and eagerly and excitedly urged anyone looking for a gig with an awesome company to jump aboard the “not-only- are-we-built-in-Boston-but-we-are-staying-here” Wayfair.
TechJam was truly a community-wide celebration that continued through the night (and probably into some of the nearby watering holes).
As the day wore down, the good vibrations could be felt all over town, from City Hall to BostInno’s post-event party on the deck of MJ O’Connor’s to the (somewhat secret) Boston Syndicate dinner at Row 34.
All is all, yesterday was a great day for Boston tech.