It’s getting harder for startups to score free office space at PayPal’s Boston office. PayPal executive David Chang, who oversees the “Start Tank” program that sets up chosen entrepreneurs with office space that PayPal isn’t yet using, says only about 11 percent of applicants got in this fall. That’s compared to a 20 percent acceptance rate earlier this year.
And the choosiness seems to be yielding results: four residents or recent alums of the Start Tank have each raised $1 million or more, including Manicube, TackleGrab, Amino, and Project 2020.
The new set of six startups moves in September 15th; most are still developing their products. They are:
• Streambino is a personalized internet TV service for preschoolers that offers unlimited access to decades of classic children’s television programs in a kid-safe environment.
Founder: Will Fowler and Pete Fillman
• Spotzer powers interactive, socially engaging, and context-aware mobile apps for museums to enhance the way we experience art.
Founder: Brendan Ciecko
• InMoji is a peer-to-peer mobile monetization platform enabling eCommerce and branded experiences.
Founder: Michael Africk and Perry Tell
• SpotGoGo is a mobile service that enables drivers to find parking spots and avoid tickets.
Founders: Mike Burrage and Will Ho
• CYLENT Systems delivers automatic real-time disruption of cyber attacks and a 24X7 response service to mid-market organizations.
Founder: Michael Duffy and Jack Danahy
• The Firehose Project is a virtual service that trains the next generation of web developers and technical talent.
Founders: Marco Morawec and Ken Mazaika
(PayPal provided the company descriptions above.)
Chang and several other PayPal execs (see the list of mentors here) are involved in selecting companies that get into the Start Tank.
“For each application, we have four or five different mentors read and score the application based on a number of factors (team, opportunity, competition, etc.), and we bring in the top applications for an in-person interview,” Chang explains via e-mail. “Some turn out to be much stronger in person (and some much weaker in person).” Having a larger selection committee “has enabled us to get a much better diversity of startups,” he says. In the last two waves of startups admitted, for example, 11 out of 23 companies had female founders.
Companies are invited to use the Start Tank for six months, though they have the option to extend their stay for up to a year.
Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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