Local Gifting: Holiday Shopping Guide to Boston & Cambridge

Reality check: there are only 2 weeks left until Christmas, and only 5 days left until Hanukkah starts. If you’re like us, the whole holiday season really snuck up on you. One day we were gorging ourselves on turkey and stuffing, and the next day trees, lights, and trimming were suddenly everywhere. While the temptation to run out, buy everyone on your list a Target gift card and call it a day is real (and hard to resist), don’t give up just yet! There’s no reason you can’t find the perfect thoughtful gift for everyone on your list right here in Boston or Cambridge (supporting local business and innovation in the process!).

Zootility's Pocket Monkey

Zootility’s Pocket Monkey

  1. Zootility Tools- These MassChallenge graduates and current Workbar members make handy,lightweight “multi-tools” that can be carried with you anywhere. The Pocket Monkey has 12 functions all on one millimeter of stainless steel, and it’s TSA compliant to boot. They just released their newest tool, the Headgehog, which can be used as anything from a comb to a wrench to a chip clip. A great gift for the handy minimalist in your life.perfume to the people
  2. Perfume to the People- This Cambridge-based perfumer makes small, custom batch scents with each order, crafting beautiful perfumes and colognes that can’t be found in any store. Every bottle is redolent with a unique blend of florals and spices, and comes artfully presented.  Great for picky lads and ladies with a penchant for standing out in a crowd.


    ReFleece iPad sleeves in multiple colors

  3. ReFleece- For those on your list with environmental concerns, an item from ReFleece can’t be beat. This company takes clothing and fabric scraps from partner brands like Patagonia and Woolrich and repurposes them to make iphone, ipad, and kindle cases, as well as zipping travel pouches. Fabric that might otherwise be shredded, melted, or thrown away is given new life, and the company uses sustainable manufacturing processes to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. ReFleece is also a 2014 MassChallenge winner.

    Peter Pan Poster for sale at Litographs.com

    Peter Pan Poster for sale at Litographs.com

  4. Litographs- These Workbar members make t-shirts, totes, and posters with eye-catching graphics, but that isn’t quite what makes them special. What makes this company’s items unique is that each t-shirt or bag design is printed with text from your favorite classic books. With a wide array of titles like Moby Dick, Siddhartha, Pride & Prejudice, and even the Kama Sutra, you’re sure to find the right title for your literary leaning friends.

    Friendly Faces at Polcari's

    Friendly Faces at Polcari’s

  5. Foodie Frenzy- This suggestion doesn’t involve a specific store or company, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention all the culinary delights our city has to offer. For the foodie in your life, consider a pound or two of legendary coffee from the North End staple Polcari’s Coffee. You may also want to check out Follow the Honey, an all-honey boutique in Cambridge with a focus on fair trade “human rights” honey from around the world. They even have honey on tap, and a wide array of other products with a sweet golden twist.  Last but not least, Taza Chocolate, based out of Somerville, has stone-ground Mexican style chocolaty treats and offers tours of their factory.

If you’re just feeling generally overwhelmed by all the gifts you still have left to buy, take a deep breath, have a quick spiked eggnog, and head to this week’s Startup Stir at Workbar Cambridge. The theme is holiday shopping and eating local, and we’ll have vendors from all around the city gathered in our café to make your holiday shopping just a little easier. You can even (alert: shameless plug) pick up some Workbar gift cards and give your family and friends the gift of coffee and coworking.

Phew. Don’t you feel better now?


About the Author: Ann Holland is a Space & Community Manager at Workbar. You may also address her as Potroast. Contact her on Twitter @SamuelEnderby and on Instagram at @SamuelEnderby

Subscribe to the Workbar blog for original content on entrepreneurship, the mobile work style and business topics such as management, productivity and team building.  Our goal is to encourage and educate you on how to be a better worker!  Follow Workbar on Twitter and check out our Facebook page.

50 on Fire Finalists Bring Innovation to Workbar

50 on Fire – BostInno’s annual awards ceremony to honor and highlight Boston’s “inventors, disruptors, luminaries, and newsmakers” has nominated three Workbar members as finalists this year –  Babson’s Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab, Panos Panay, Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, and Mavrck (formerly Splashscore).

50 on Fire logo

50 on Fire logo courtesy of BostInno

In the same way that each nominee has influenced Boston’s innovation ecosystem on a large scale, each has also helped create a unique program at Workbar, contributing to the evolution of what coworking can mean. Representing three Workbar locations (Boston, Cambridge, and the Workbar Network), we are proud to work with the following three 50 on Fire finalists.

The Babson WIN Lab

Babson WINners hard at work at Workbar Boston

Babson WINners hard at work at Workbar Boston

The Babson WIN Lab, a year-long residency program for Women Entrepreneurs out of Babson College, joined Workbar Boston in September, 2014 for its inaugural year. Led by Sharon Kan, Susan Duffy, and Heatherjean Macneil, along with a panel of strong experts and coaches, the program’s goal is to empower and and support women to build their own successful businesses. Since joining, the WIN Lab has held its weekly classes and hosted 8 events, including panels, lectures, a “speed dating” pitch session, and a culminating product launch demo day at Workbar Boston. The Lab’s 25 female entrepreneurs also have access to Workbar Boston beyond their classes and events, using it as a workspace and off-campus launchpad for their businesses. Some companies founded by the program’s participants (“WINners”) include DARTdrones, Meet Eugene, On the Dot Books, and al FreshCo. See a complete list of winners and their companies HERE.

Panos Panay & the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship

Panos Panay and the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship have also leveraged a relationship with Workbar to challenge traditional ideas of classroom education. Founded by Panos Panay, a Berklee alumnus and founder of Sonicbids, with the help of Ken Zolot, a senior lecturer at MIT’s school of engineering, BerkleeICE’s goals are are to “prepare Berklee graduates for careers as entrepreneurs in the new music business, to foster the creation of new products, services, and businesses driving the changes in the creative industries of tomorrow, and to inspire the advancement of disruptive ideas through the application of musical creativity and cross-discipline collaboration.” In an effort to connect Berklee students with working entrepreneurs and small businesses, the BerkleeICE hosts classes every Monday at Workbar Cambridge. Most classes include a lecture or presentation about creative entrepreneurship – particularly as it applies to the music industry. According to an interview with Panay in BostInno, Panay and Ken Zolot chose Workbar to bring entreprepreneurs within arms reach of their students, and to make the trip to class a little inconvenient – much like an entrepreneur’s journey.

Open to Workbar members and students alike, the institute has already brought several engaging speakers and presenters to Workbar, including the former Creative Director for Nike, the Director of GoogleX, and IDEO’s Managing Director. Though classes happen on Monday nights, the 18 students participating in the program regularly use Workbar as an off-campus workspace and resource for class projects and for building their entrepreneurial ideas throughout the week.


Mavrck (formerly Splashscore), was an original member company at Workbar Cambridge the summer of 2013. After growing, moving to the North End, completing Techstars in November, and rebranding, the influencer marketing startup returned to Workbar as a founding member of WUNDERBAR – Workbar’s Center of Excellence in Adtech hosted at Mullen.

Mavrck works alongside Reactor Media & Viral Gains at WUNDERBAR

Mavrck works alongside Reactor Media & Viral Gains at WUNDERBAR

Mavrck uses its software to identify and activate social media influencers for major brands. Founded by Sean Naegeli, Lyle Stevens, and Chris Wolfel, the company grew its user base 370 percent and increased revenue 1,300 percent in 2014, according to Bostinno. With a mission to challenge the future of the digital marketing industry and traditional display advertising, Mavrck plans to use its time at Mullen to learn from an industry leader, test its platform, and hone its product to better align with the needs of its clients. In the process, the company will help shape the future WUNDERBAR’s programming and Workbar’s Center of Excellence model.


The WIN Lab, BerkleeICE, and Mavrck are clear examples of innovators at Workbar who have brought disruptive ideas to leading industries in Boston. Workbar is excited for their inevitable success, and we wish them luck at the 50 on Fire awards on December 4th.

Curious about the other nominees for 50 on Fire? You can read a complete list of finalists on Bostinno’s website. Want to learn more about joining Workbar’s community? Schedule a tour at workbar.com.


About the Author: Alexa Lightner is the Director of Community Development at Workbar. Tweet her up at @AlexaLightner.

Subscribe to the Workbar blog for original content on entrepreneurship, the mobile work style and business topics such as management, productivity and team building.  Our goal is to encourage and educate you on how to be a better worker!  Follow Workbar on Twitter and check out our Facebook page.

Guest Post #4: Small Business, Big Brand by Sean McCarthy of Digital Marketing NOW

Small Business, BIG Brand!

By Sean McCarthy, Director of Client Strategy, Digital Marketing NOW

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a little tournament going on in Brazil this month and with it has come some of the most creative (and expensive) advertising on the planet. Whether you call it football, futbol, or soccer, global brands such as McDonald’s and Nike are sparing no expense to put their brands on your television, in the World Cup stadiums, and on billboards around the world. Even emerging brands like Beats by Dre are creating five-minute long mega-commercials with global stars of the sport to grab your attention.

If you’re the owner of a small business, what should be grabbing your attention is their branding. While I’m sure you don’t have the budget of a big brand, that doesn’t mean you can’t act BIG when it comes to the branding of your small business. If I say Nike, I bet a Swoosh just popped into your head. What emotion does Coca-Cola evoke? That’s easy, happiness. And if I asked what Budweiser’s slogan was, I’m sure you’d answer King of Beers. All this greatly influences what people buy, and it comes from years of successful branding.

Here are eight tips for how you can do BIG branding for your small business, just like a mega-brand.

  1. Define Your Brand – Who are you? Most small businesses try to explain too many things in their branding. Think of VISA, “It’s everywhere you want to be.” Simple and let’s people know VISA is reliable, accessible, and can be used anywhere. In fact, they just removed “It’s” from the slogan earlier this year, because it better represents the brand. Define the essence of your brand, as it should inform all of your marketing.
  1. Take a Stand – Consumers connect with brands they can understand and appreciate. If you try to be everything to everyone, your message can and will get lost. Let customers know what you’re great at or what you’re passionate about. For example, Budweiser: they are the King of Beers. Tom’s Shoes are passionate about helping the poor and underprivileged have footwear. Let potential customers know what your brand DNA is all about and let them connect with it.
  1. Be Bold – “Just do it.” In three words Nike connected with every aspect of your life by telling you to be bold and by being bold themselves. Don’t be afraid to make big statements in your branding. If your product can empower consumers, let them know. If your product can save consumers time, let them know. Don’t be afraid to be bold and aggressive in your brand messages.
  1. Pick a Color – Big brands have simple colors and they use them consistently. If I said the name Home Depot, Starbucks, IBM, or General Electric, I’m sure you could tell me their primary brand color. An accent color here and there is fine, but big brands want you to think of one color and identify with it always.
  1. Be Consistent – Whether it’s your brand slogan or the color of your logo, be consistent. The VISA campaign I mentioned earlier has been running since 1985! You can’t reinforce the character of your business if elements of your brand are constantly changing.
  1. Keep It Simple – Caterpillar is one of the largest heavy machinery companies in the world manufacturing massive, expensive, complex construction machines. If you go to their website though, you’re presented with four simple verticals and even a “Need a part” search feature. Big brands don’t overwhelm their customers; they help their customers meet a need. A startup called Buffer began in the bedroom of one of its founders with a simple product offering social media post scheduling and nothing else. Everything the company does has been focused on simplicity. Three years later Buffer had 700,000 monthly blog readers and over 1 million users! Keeping it simple works, whether you’re a large company or a solopreneur.
  1. Promote Your Expertise – Marketing is expensive. Marketing on the level of a global brand is astronomically expensive. However, you don’t need a billion dollar budget to set up a blog; all it takes is time. The software startup KISSmetrics built its blog religiously (without spending money) and took it from zero monthly blog visitors to 350,000 in just a few years! The blog now accounts for 70% of the company’s leads. Consistent blogging can serve multiple functions from sales to customer service resource all while establishing your brand as a thought leader in your industry or area. Whether it’s introducing a new product feature or giving your point of view on the latest industry news, consumers connect with stories and a blog is a great way to tell yours. And it’s free!
  1. Analyze This – Big data, small data, stats, information; whatever you want to call it, big brands spend a lot of time and money analyzing customer data. As a small business, you have neither the time nor the money. But fear not, there are free tools! First, Google Analytics is free and there are very simple reports that can be set up rather quickly to help you understand how customers are interacting with your website. This can help you identify pages with high bounce rates or low time-on-page to improve customer experience and better convey your brand message. Second, another free platform to track data is Sumall.com which allows you to integrate basically all of your web services into one analytics dashboard. From Twitter to AdWords to Ebay, you can see it all in one interface saving time and money while getting a big picture view of how your brand is performing.

Remember, big brands weren’t always that way. So while you can’t afford Ronaldo or Messi for a commercial right now, you can still use many of the same branding tactics these mega-brands use to make your small brand BIG!

To learn more about Digital Marketing NOW, visit http://DigitalMarketingNOW.com.

Guest Blog #3: Online Video: Do you need one? by Alan Catello Grazioso

Online Video: Do you need one?

By Alan Catello Grazioso of Grazioso Pictures, Inc.

Yes, it’s the golden age of (online) video.   YouTube and broadband changed the world of video distribution.  Created in 2005 by three former PayPal employees, YouTube users today upload a 100 hours of new video content every 60 seconds. Perhaps you’re thinking…do I need a video from my company, product, pitch or service?  And how do I get started creating one?


In today’s world, our web presence is one way small businesses can “compete” with larger players.  An effective video can showcase your company, product or service and do the boasting for you.

I’m an entrepreneur and video producer (a.k.a. digital filmmaker).  I launched my production company 14 years ago and have been creating video content for broadcast television and companies for nearly 25 years.  I’ve seen media creation technology and distribution change dramatically, one seismic shift being the explosion of online video.

Over the last 5 years our online video projects for clients (not including broadcast projects) have taken us on location to 5 continents, including such places as Ethiopia, Rwanda, El Salvador, Vietnam and Israel, producing projects in 12 languages.  I’m grateful to have had these opportunities and thank online video as a result.

Video Development

In my experience the #1 constant common denominator that separates a good video from great one is a compelling, well structured story.   #2 is sound and music. #3 is image quality. Here are some things to think about when developing a video idea:

-What ways can my video be utilized and fully exploited by my company online and offline?

-What’s the story?

-How will you tell it? (interviews, voiceover, on-camera talent, fiction, documentary)

-What’s unique about your company, product, service?

-Who’s your audience?

-What’s the length of the video and how did you come to this conclusion?

-Why will viewers want to watch your video past the first 10 seconds?

Image_2of2_Grazioso_Blog_June16_2014Before Shooting:

Here are a few of my cardinal rules to consider before shooting any video.

-Have a game plan in place before you shoot: Take the time to “flesh out” your concept and game plan.  This will help you avoid a lot of pain when it comes to editing.  Do you want the piece presented by a host, narrated off-camera or told solely by the interview subjects?  Do you want to use professional actors or your employees?  What tone, feel or approach will the film take…serious, comical, dramatic?

For inspiration, a YouTube video that stands out to me as super creative is this video from DollarShaveClub.com.

Create a shooting outline, video treatment, and/or script prior to scheduling your production.  Work out the idea on paper first.  Talk about it amongst your team and brainstorm.  In addition to creating a shooting script, make a storyboard. This will help you visualize the final product.   I storyboard all my videos by going online and doing an image search.  For example, say shot #1 of our script starts with wide shot of South Boston, I’ll find the best shot online and paste it into a word doc. From this storyboard you can easily create a shot list.

-Cast your “characters”: We produce a lot of non-fiction television, including “reality” or “real life” shows.  Casting is a major part of the process.  Think about who you want to appear on-camera. Hiring a casting company is money well spent, but you may not have cash for casting.  It’s okay… if your vision is to include someone from sales, conduct a formal or informal casting session.  Pre-interview people you think may be good candidates.  Test them on camera with your smart phone and pick the best person.  Keep in mind candidates may interview well (off-camera) but may clam up when the camera is rolling.

Viewers respond to the on-camera energy of a person.  Not to sound corny, but when I say “energy” I mean camera presence.  If a person on-camera is nervous or checked out viewers (I believe) can sense it and will likely tune out also, so casting is critical.

-Think about technical execution:  Yes, videos can be shot on an iPhone (and many have) but one huge distinguishing fact between good and horrible videos is sound.  It’s been said that sound is 50-60% of the experience of the television watching viewer and that audio trumps image quality.  This is debatable, but if watchers hear bad sound they will tune out.   Invest in recording good, clean, crisp sound.  Sound and image quality do make a difference so think about what you want to create in the end.  This brings us to the budget.

-Budget and resources:  You have no budget you may say.  Think long and hard on why you want to make a video.   One goal may be to get press interest, or get invited to appear on Shark Tank.   Regardless, creating a video will take resources.  Perhaps your cousin is an actor (and has talent).  Perhaps your neighbor owns a hair salon and one of your scenes can take place there after hours for no fee.  Who’s going to film it? With what camera? How are you going to record sound? What’s your editing plan? Do you need animated graphics to give it that higher end feel?

In conclusion, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to considering making a video.  Why? What? How? When? For whom? How long? We are in the midst of the golden age of online video and with planning, creativity and some resources you can make a great one.  And hey, it may get you 10 million views on YouTube as a result!

Alan Catello Grazioso is a member of Workbar and the head of development and executive producer of Grazioso Pictures, Inc., a fourteen-year-old production company based outside of Boston and represented by N.S Bienstock, Inc. in NYC.  His credits include BBC, History Channel, Travel Channel, PBS, Oxfam, Save the Children, BMW, L.L. Bean, Southwest Airlines, Domino’s Pizza, New Balance, and others. 

To learn more about Grazioso Pictures visit: www.graziosopictures.com

To see Grazioso Pictures lastest demo reel visit: http://vimeo.com/59703490



Guest Blog #2: Employee Equity Need-to-Knows, by James Johnson

What You May Need to Know Before Granting Employees Equity

If you’ve decided to grant your employees or other workers or service providers—such as independent contractors, attorneys, accountants, or advisors—with equity compensation or incentives, you’ll need to make several decisions about what kind of equity you want to give, and take several steps to put a compensation/incentive plan together and ensure legal compliance.

Types of Equity Grants 


“City government stock certificate” Seattle Municipal Archives. Creative Commons License 2.0

Employee equity compensation grants can take one of several forms. Grants can take the form of restricted, or “vesting,” equity, as well as options to purchase stock/equity. In addition, the exact nature of the equity can depend on how your company is structured — if your company is a LLC you may grant membership units, or if your company is organized as a corporation you may grant stock, often with different rights than other classes of equity.

Restricted Equity

With restricted or vested equity, employees are restricted from transferring the stock until it “vests” after a period of time or upon the occurrence of an event (such as a product launch or revenue milestone). The employee typically holds the equity and is entitled to exercise any rights associated with the equity. However, if the employee leaves or is otherwise severed from the company before equity vests, the unvested equity is forfeited or repurchased by the company.

Restricted equity grants can sometimes be simpler to construct and simpler to tax. Normally, the employee reports the difference between the price paid for the equity and the fair market value of the equity at the time of vesting as ordinary income. However, the employee can choose to pay tax at the time of grant rather than at the time of vesting. Paying the tax at the time of grant can allow the employee to avoid a larger tax bill if the value of the equity rises between the time of grant and time of vesting, but the employee takes the risk that the equity decreases in value, or that he or she forfeits unvested equity — any paid tax is not refunded.


Options allow an employee to purchase equity at a stated price. The option to purchase is also usually subject to a vesting period or condition; once the option vests, the employee then has a set limited period of time, normally 5 to 10 years, to exercise the option. Options fall into one of two categories: incentive and non-qualified options.

Incentive Options

Incentive options give exercising employees certain tax benefits, assuming certain qualifications are met. Tax benefits of incentive options can include no ordinary income tax on exercise; however, in practice it’s often difficult to meet the requirements for incentive options, and employees sometimes end up with unexpected tax liabilities.

Non-Qualified Options

Non-qualified options are all options that are not incentive options. Generally, the options are taxed to employees as ordinary income, and companies are permitted to take deductions on the exercise of non-qualified options. They are generally considered simpler than incentive options since they can be granted to all individuals who provide bona fide services to the company, as opposed to incentive options that can only be granted to employees. Employees need not worry about holding periods or tax liabilities, since estimated tax payments are usually withheld at the time of exercise.

Making Equity Grants

Companies have certain regulatory requirements they must comply with in order to implement equity compensation/incentive plans. All plans should be codified in a written document, approved by the board of directors and shareholders. If the company is granting a security, it normally will conduct the offering of the grant pursuant to exemptions in the securities laws.

The Incentive Plan

The incentive plan describes the employee equity being offered by the company, including the size of the plan and the types of equity being offered, how and by whom the plan is to be managed, eligibility, vesting terms, length of the plan, exercise price, and/or potential cash options.

Securities Compliance

Employee equity compensation/incentive plans must also comply with securities laws. Typically, companies utilize the Rule 701 exemption at the federal level; companies must also comply with securities laws in the states where the plans are offered.

Rule 701

Rule 701 exempts from federal securities registration equity compensation offerings pursuant to a written compensation plan. The company does not have to make a filing in order to comply with Rule 701, but it must provide offerees with a copy of the compensation/incentive plan, and, depending on the size of the plan, must also make certain disclosures, including a summary of the material terms of the plan, information about the risks of investment, and certain company financial statements.

State Securities Laws

Rule 701 does not preempt state securities registration, so companies must ensure compliance with state law. Fortunately, most states have exemptions for employee equity compensation offering, normally requiring notice filings to the state securities regulator and disclosures to the plan offerees.

If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out or catch me around Workbar!

James Johnson


Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact an attorney for advice specific to your situation.