Top Five Takeaways from Entrepalooza 2015

This week, MassChallenge held their annual Entrepalooza event at Royale Boston- an event aimed at bringing together Boston’s entrepreneurial and innovation community in order to connect them with existing resources in the city. At its most basic, Entrepalooza brings in vendors with resources and opportunities to share, while Boston’s startup community browses, mingles, and networks with said vendors. But that description sells the event short, as Entrepalooza has the atmosphere of a huge exclusive party, an atmosphere fostered by the Boston-staple nightlife location, a flowing cash bar, dimmed club-style lighting, and the bumping bass of top 40 dance music. Here are our top five takeaways from this year’s event.

1. Innovators do their research: Working the vendor table, Space & Community Manager for Workbar Boston Cheryl Centeno realized that most of the people she spoke with were already familiar with our coworking space and our brand. “I found that they were more interested in learning more about our mission, and how we differentiate ourselves.” The lesson here is that the entrepreneurial community in Boston is deeply engaged, and is looking beyond surface level branding for companies that truly complement their own values and ideas.

Space & Community Manager Tiffany Knight chatting it up

Space & Community Manager Tiffany Knight chatting it up

2. Catch more bees with free swag: Sure, maybe it’s a little disappointing that free stuff still equals a more crowded table. However, the fact of the matter is that good free swag reels people in, making it easier to make your pitch to a wider audience. We brought coffee, hoping to help counteract some of the booze and keep people perky, but pens, tees, and stickers were prevalent elsewhere. At an event like Entrepalooza, having something in your back pocket (or on your table) to help stand out in a swarming, buzzing, bass-fueled crowd is a must.

3. The Boston startup community is truly supportive:  As a first time attendee of Entrepalooza, Cambridge Space & Community Manager Ann Holland was stunned not only by the turnout, the party atmosphere, and the variety of vendors tabling, but also by the collaborative vibe that permeated the event. She said, “In what could be a very competitive environment for both presenters and attendees, people approached each other with openness and enthusiasm. Everywhere I looked I saw people rekindling old connections and sparking vibrant new ones.” People were eager not only to share their own ideas and life’s work, but to hear from others and share new perspectives.

4. The Boston startup community is diverse: Most people have a perception of the startup community as being mostly tech-based. While tech makes up a significant portion of the community, events like Entrepalooza do a great job of challenging that stereotype. A surprising number of people we spoke with worked for nonprofits focusing on music, youth programming and more- not a group typically associated with the startup community. We also met people focusing on health and lifestyle, covering everything from filling last minute slots in fitness classes to making environmentally sustainable changes in the home affordable and accessible. Even better, we saw tons of female entrepreneurs making the rounds!

Striking a pose with Cambridge member & entrepreneur Panos Panay

Striking a pose with Cambridge member & entrepreneur Panos Panay

5. MassChallenge throws a great party: This one is self-explanatory for everyone who attended. For those who didn’t: make attending Entrepalooza next year a priority for you and your company. MassChallenge managed the difficult task of combining the productive and professional with the celebratory, and they pulled it off without a hitch.


To see tweets, photos, and more from this year’s Entrepalooza, check out our Storify!

 

About the Author: Ann Holland is a Space & Community Manager at Workbar Cambridge. You may also address her as Potroast. Catch her on Instagram and Twitter under the handle @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 Instagram and check out our Facebook page. 

10 Things You Need to Start Bike Commuting Tomorrow

The following is a guest post by Laurel Valchuis – a member of Workbar Boston and participant of the Babson WIN Lab.

Spring is finally here, a season synonymous in Boston with unpredictable: sunny and windy today, snow in the forecast this weekend, and rain right on its heels. But don’t let it stop you! Below are the essentials for bike commuting in any kind of weather and settle right into work without the bother of a whole wardrobe change.

Preparation

bike 1

  1. Dust off your bike: Make sure you have some good bike lube, clean up the chain and tighten the brakes.

Accessories

  1. Seat: See that beautiful plastic bag on my seat? I have a cheap seat that’s as absorbent as a sponge, so I leave the bag on while riding and take it off to dry out when I’m not riding. Having a wet bum when you get to work is not ideal. Not into the plastic bag? There are plenty of alternative options in the form of seat covers and waterproof, leather-free saddles. Check out Brooks England for a good selection.
  1. Lights and Reflectors: If you’re planning to ride at night, then safety first! Get something that you will never forget to bring with you that is also easy to keep charged. I use a Lezyne front light and Serfas back light and I always take them off when I park (I have had many a bike light stolen, ugh). I chose my lights because they are easy to charge via USB, work well, and are small and easy to carry in a pocket. I haven’t tried Fortified Bicycle’s lights- a more robust, theft-proof option- but they offer Workbar members a 20% discount. Someone be sure to try them and let me know how they are! And just because you have lights doesn’t mean you should underestimate reflectors- they’re cheap, make a big difference, and don’t need to be recharged. Use in conjunction with your lights.
  1. Fenders- Very necessary to keep you dry; I recommend them for both the front and back tires. I have the SKS Germany Longboard carbon fiber fenders which fare well in all conditions and last longer.
  1. Panniers/Rack- Perfect for carrying all your stuff without having to bear all the weight in a backpack. I have Ortlieb panniers that hook onto my back rack. While not cheap, they are very waterproof, durable, and carry a lot of stuff. These have been my best investment in my bike

Clothing

bike 2

Member Laurel Valchuis all bundled up for bad weather biking

  1. Pants- Having something to throw on over your ‘work’ pants is a great way to stay clean and dry. In foul weather rain pants do work, but all that humidity can cause some temperature control issues and can feel like wearing a trash bag. I use 4UCycling pants as they are fairly cheap, breathable and semi-waterproof. I wouldn’t suggest them in a downpour, but they’re good for keeping you warm and dry, and they fit over normal pants.  For monsoon-style rain, a pair of light rain pants is going to be your best bet. Used Patagonia ones run you around $30. If you want to be super stylish, the Cleverhood looks, well, clever!
  1. Jacket- Layer! It’s warm, it’s cold, it’s raining, it’s foggy- one must be prepared for the ever changing Boston climate. I have a rain shell I wear over several layers depending on the weather. It’s Gore-tex, and well worth the money. With your layers, think wool, not cotton- it’ll keep you dry, and prevent a wardrobe change upon arrival.
  1. Helmet- In unpredictable weather, having an insulated and vent-optional helmet is key. I have a Bern helmet with a snap-in liner. It’s glorious, and better than fitting hats and other warm gear under a normal helmet.
  1. Gloves- Keep your hands warm and mobile, especially on those chilly metal brakes! Your hands aren’t doing a lot while riding, so it’s nice to keep them warmer than you think you’d normally require. I use Black Diamond Mercury mittens. They are down-filled, hefty, and water resistant.
  1. Footwear- Waterproof boots and some heavy wool socks are essential to keeping feet dry and not worrying about every puddle you splash through, especially when there’s a car on your other side! I have Blundstone boots, and wear Darn Tough socks, which are made in Vermont and guaranteed for life- I swear by them!

bike 3If you’re looking to include biking in your business model, check out my business, al FreshCo. We deliver locally sourced meal kits by bike, and Workbar is a pickup point!

Happy care-free riding, and see you all out on the roads tomorrow!

 

About the Author: Laurel Valchuis is the owner/operator of al FreshCo. al FreshCo works directly with their network of farmers to source fresh, seasonal food, turn these vegetables into meal kits, and deliver them by bike around Boston. Laurel spends lots of time on her bike and the al FreshCo tricycle, and is a happy Workbar member as part of the Babson WIN Lab group.

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.

Coworking on the Isle of Enchantment: Workbar Travels to San Juan

It’s 12 degrees in Boston and I’m ready to board a flight to Puerto Rico, where the current temperature is 84. Just a short 4-hour flight from Boston and I arrive in San Juan Puerto Rico, where the concept of coworking is new but the idea of a working community for small businesses is the same.

Coworking allows entrepreneurs and those who work remotely the opportunity to embrace multiple landscapes, cultures, and spaces. With the rise in international coworking spaces, anyone can take a trip, rejuvenate, and still make that 2pm conference call they had hoped to leave at home – myself included.

Photo by Tiffany Knight

Photo by Tiffany Knight

I hop on my rental bike and head over to Piloto 151, one of the first coworking spaces in Puerto Rico. The space is well designed – bright, hip and airy. Similar to other coworking spaces, it offers a mix of shared space, event space, conference rooms, outdoor patios and private offices. Much like Workbar, Piloto 151 was designed for collaborative productivity, fulfilling the need for a remote office and at the same time offering up an energetic vibe via events. Here in the heart of Old San Juan, small businesses and entrepreneurs work out of the space and attend a variety of events such as Hackathons and FuckUp Nights.

While touring Piloto 151, I met  with Sofia Stolberg, the coworking space’s cofounder and an entrepreneur herself, to chat about her experience as an entrepreneur running Piloto 151.

Tiffany: What were your favorite projects as an entrepreneur?

Sofia: Two of my favorite projects as an entrepreneur have been Codetrotters and Womentechover.  Codetrotters is an internship exchange program that we developed where we select the best and brightest coders in under-tapped markets and give them an opportunity to intern at a globally oriented startup. In exchange, participating startups pledge a minimum of 8 hours of mentoring to existing startups in under-developed ecosystems, including Puerto Rico. Womentechover is a forum that seeks to promote more women in tech by sharing success stories and talking openly about challenges.

Both these projects have been critical to the development of our ecosystem and are close to my heart because I truly believe that tech is and can become a catalyst for change in under-developed economies, and amongst minorities and under-represented populations.

Sofia Stolberg, Co-Founder, Piloto 151

Sofia Stolberg, Co-Founder of Piloto 151

Tiffany: What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur? What were your takeaways?

Sofia: As entrepreneurs, we face challenges every day. The important thing is to be optimistic, and become an expert at making lemonade! You always have to do the most with the cards you’re dealt at any given time and the resources you have at hand. When we were still in the construction phase of Piloto 151, for example, the pigeons in the plaza in front of our building dirtied our walls the same day we finished painting. That’s when my brother and I decided to turn something negative into a positive and the aviator pigeon became the brand behind Piloto. The Piloto pigeon has become an emblematic symbol for the startup and tech community on the Island, and it arose out of an initial pain point.

 

Tiffany: What are the current coworking trends in Puerto Rico? How do you see these evolving?

Sofia: We were the first, and after a year in the making, a few more spaces have sprung up. At first we had a lot of foreigners who were already familiarized with the concept join, but now that locals are familiarized with the concept and virtues of coworking, more and more are embracing it every day. That’s why we are all expanding to 2 additional locations by the end of this year.

Piloto 151's event space (top), vibrant San Juan street (bottom)

Piloto 151’s event space (top), vibrant San Juan street (bottom)

Tiffany: Have there been any notable collaboration’s in your coworking space?

Sofia: Piloto 151 has triggered many collaborations in Puerto Rico’s startup and tech ecosystem. Incredible collisions have occurred resulting in the launch of Piloto Labs, a community-based nonprofit organization that groups over 15 tech and startup community organizations and movements. Many members have started to work with each other as well. ITPC and Force Interactive Media, started working together shortly after having met in Piloto.

In an attempt to diversify the tech industry and bolster the economy in Puerto Rico, the local government has created tax incentives for businesses that establish themselves in PR. In my opinion, the near perfect weather and the vibrant community in Piloto 151 and out on the streets of Old San Juan is a motivation in itself to set up shop. If you’re looking for a change of pace or a new location to start or run a business- I’d  recommend Piloto 151.

About the Author: Tiffany Knight is a Space & Community Manager at Workbar. She also founded and runs her own photography business, GalleryTK. Contact her on Twitter @TK_mVille.

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.

5 Must-Read Books for Entrepreneurs

Ah, reading. Such a lovely pastime. But if you’re an entrepreneur, chances are the last time you picked up a book it was mandatory reading for your Comp & World Lit class, and who the heck can even remember the last time you had room in your schedule to read for pleasure? Don’t despair, innovators! Reading can have both pleasure and purpose. In honor of Workbar’s Author Talks series, which kicked off this this week with a  launch party for author and angel investor Rick Webb’s new book Agency: Starting a Creative Firm in the Age of Digital Marketing, we’ve listed five essential books for current or aspiring entrepreneurs to read.

Agency: Starting a Creative Firm in the Age of Digital Marketing by Rick Webb: the subject of Workbar's first Author Talks

Agency: Starting a Creative Firm in the Age of Digital Marketing by Rick Webb: the subject of Workbar’s first Author Talks

  1.   The Lean Startup by Eric Ries: In this book, author Eric Ries defines a startup as “an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty.” And whether your startup is meeting in glossy board rooms or your mom’s basement (or somewhere in between), this book has invaluable insights on the right approach to a successful, sustainable business in a world with no guarantees.
  1. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Recommended by no less than the CEO of Patagonia himself, this book is a little less business focused than the others on this list. It takes a psychological approach to optimizing your experiences. Creativity, enjoyment, and total involvement with your life no longer need to be left up to chance.
  1. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh: Penned by the CEO of Zappos, this book focuses on building your company’s culture around happiness, a stark departure from how corporate culture traditionally works. From the inside out, culture defines your employees, your brand, and your customer base. It turns out focusing personal and professional satisfaction internally can also help you make money.
  1. Good to Great: If Eric Ries uses his book to define the “extreme uncertainty” of the startup world, author of Good to Great Jim Collins details a study attempting to pin down what exactly allows a company to have enduring success. Some companies are born with great DNA that allows them to maintain long term, consistent success. But what about the companies that start out as mediocre or less than mediocre? How can they transform inauspicious beginnings into an enterprise built to last?
  1. The Tipping Point: Whether or not you aspire to spawn the next great internet meme, the science of fads is a fascinating one, and author Malcolm Gladwell seeks to go beyond traditional explanations of crowd behavior and human irrationality. Borrowing terminology from the medical science community, Gladwell uses the concept of the “tipping point” in epidemics to describe what happens when something goes from small to huge at a rapid pace, proving that “going viral” is more than just a turn of phrase. And in a world of information overload, what is it that makes something stick?

Did we get your brain buzzing with literary curiosity yet? Take the momentum and run with it by popping out to your local bookstore and picking up a copy of each to peruse during commutes and rare moments of downtime. Better yet- share your favorite authors with us. What have you been reading lately? Know of any local authors with new, compelling books we should be bringing into our space for an Author Talks?  Author Talks is a Workbar original series of informal talks with local and national authors who are either self-published or partnered with a publisher. Authors will get the chance to answer questions about the topics presented in their books, as well as talk about the process of writing. Tweet us at @Workbar and let us know if you or someone you know would be a good author to feature!

 

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.

Teaching Wellness at Workbar

The following is a guest post by Dillan DiGiovanni, a Lunch & Learn instructor at Workbar.

11 strangers walk into a room from right off the street and leave ready to change their lives.

Sounds like the setup for a joke, but it isn’t. It actually happened last week during my Lunch & Learn for Winter Wellness at Workbar Boston.

Abby Taylor, Digital Media and Events Manager at Workbar, invited me to bring my integrative health coaching expertise to the current members of the space as well as employees from local businesses and companies, or self-employed entrepreneurs.

As a former classroom teacher, I really love giving in-person talks and workshops–and when the group that gathers is open, receptive and FUN, it makes my job even better. This group, however, was one of my best to date. And I’ve done hundreds of presentations. What made it so remarkable?

The Interest

When I advertise wellness during the winter, I know I’m going to attract people who want more than the status quo in life. Most people are content to be cold and get sick and complain about it–but people who want wellness during the winter in New England? That’s not your everyday person. Sure enough, the group in attendance was an array of folks into fitness, health, mindfulness and transformation in some form or fashion. They were primed and ready to go.

IMG_9192

The Vibe

I like to make learning fun. We all want to grow and if we can laugh while we are doing it, I think it helps. From the very start, the group was open and receptive. They were very attentive and seemed really happy to be in the room. They made jokes and asked great questions. It was just fun.

The Content

I’ll be honest, advice for wellness in the winter is the same for wellness year-round. Sleep plenty, stress less, reduce refined sugar, increase greens in your diet and consume probiotics to combat the invasion of bacteria and viruses. It’s not rocket science, really, but it’s easy to forget amidst the pace of our lives. The folks in the room were either already on-point with these tips or tremendously honest about their room for growth in any or all areas.

Here’s what we covered:

  • Stress: know what causes it in your life and reduce it as much as possible.
  • Sugar: eat more raw honey, more maple syrup (in and on everything) and less refined sugar.
  • Greens: kale is your friend with benefits. Try to get greens in 3x/day if possible.
  • Probiotics: good bacteria cancels out bad bacteria. Colonize your gut with the good guys to beat illness.
  • Sleep: the cheapest and most effective medicine for your body. Get more of it, by any means necessary.

The Authenticity

Whenever I present to a group, I never know what will happen. But I do know this: most human beings want to connect with other human beings, and many people are afraid to be open and honest with their lives. I leave it up to the group how far they want to go. I offer open-ended questions and build in talk-time and see what people do with it. This group took that and ran with it. They shared truths about their relationships, work habits, interpersonal challenges and struggles with sugar, home-cooking and caffeine. They shared the stuff of real life–and then supported each other as they spoke–and it was amazing.

As our 90 minutes passed, more people shared even more deeply and others jumped in and respectfully offered suggestions and advice to people who had mere strangers minutes earlier. It’s the experience I always hope for with every group but try not to expect. As we started setting goals on worksheets I brought (because who doesn’t like a good worksheet?!) people were fired up to write concrete steps to make the changes they wanted to see. They went far beyond winter wellness and were thinking way bigger–into their work/life balance, how to improve their relationships and what brave steps were necessary to finance a dream startup.

This was truly one of the best experiences I’ve had in my coaching career and Abby said to the group that it was one of the best Lunch & Learns she has hosted. That meant a lot to me because more than delivering good content, I felt good to have delivered a rare and invaluable experience that people would remember for a while.

Now, can you say the same for your lunch hour last Friday?

10708738_4725884720632_7437145353270724739_o

Dillan DiGiovanni is a certified integrated nutritional health coach and certified teacher. He creates innovative programs for healthier people and workplaces. Dillan lives and works in Union Square in Somerville, MA and enjoys coffee, jelly beans and movies–in that order.

Want to learn more about the Lunch & Learn program at Workbar? Email abby@workbar.com.