Wanted to give a quick update on my new base of operations in Harvard Square. Our new office is up and running now and so full that I end up taking most of my meetings at Tory Row.
Our founding members are a diverse group of companies and people in different stages of invention, from well-known start-ups like Recorded Future to new ventures like Resurety, Matter.io and Data-Tamer. We also have a bunch of Founders that are just hanging out.
If you know me, you know that I’m crazy passionate about innovation and that I’m
addicted to start-ups. I’m happiest (professionally speaking) when working with scary-smart people who are starting world-beating companies and operate with a commitment to capital efficiency. I also have an inherent tendency to break things, which can be a virtue in start-ups where risk taking is required and where there is a high tolerance for making lots of mistakes very quickly. So Koa is a safe place to break things 😉
Koa is a place for Founders↼ full stop. I agree strongly with Brad Feld’s hypothesis that the development of entrepreneurial communities needs to be inclusive of all but led by entrepreneurs. Koa is a place to start companies, hang out with smart people, have fun and take risks. The best entrepreneurial communities are fiercely inclusive and Feeders are incredibly important, but I believe that in Boston/Cambridge we’ve lacked an emphasis and priority on the development of Founders as the innovators and leaders in our community. As my good friend Eric Paley says all the time, young Founders are the heroes of our community, and we need to hold them up and do whatever it takes to make them successful.
At Koa, I wanted to create a shared space where inventors and entrepreneurs could get their ideas off the ground, starting from scratch. I wanted a place right in the hub of Harvard Square that’s affordable ↼ I don’t make any profit on the space, I just pass through the costs ↼ like a co-op.
We also wanted to provide a place for Founders to hang out without the unintentional but often-stifling “systematization” that occurs in larger incubators or VC firms. We want to keep it small; we’re not going to have a ton of space or large-scale or structured programs. There are plenty of places to go for that: my good friend Tim Rowe has done a first-rate job at the world’s best and most successful incubator, the Cambridge Innovation Center . I expect many companies to start at Koa and move to CIC and other spaces during the first couple of years of their development.
Why the name? “Koa” is Maori for “happiness,” but it also refers to “Koa Tree,” which is a tree that is indigenous to Hawaii and grows incredibly fast. In Hawaiian, “koa” also means “bold,” “brave,” “fearless,” and “warrior.” At Koa we like people who like to have fun, are brave, and want their companies and ideas to grow incredibly fast (most of us at Koa are inherently impatient). We also believe that starting companies is a team sport; hence the “Start-Up Club.” We believe that the best companies develop teamwork as a fundamental value, like we did very intentionally during the start-up process at Infinity Pharmaceuticals. Infinity remains a great example of the kind of strong culture required to create great new independent companies in Cambridge and Boston.
With the move to my new digs, my personal blog, “The Fundable,” becomes the Koa Lab Blog. You’ll find all the previous content from The Fundable here, plus new content about starting, building and growing start-ups. Please bookmark the blog, comment on my posts, and let me know what you’d like me to talk about.