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40 speakers & events + 14 teams + 2 locations = 1 Summer

Wow! It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of August.  Like it always does, the time flew by.  It seemed like just yesterday that teams were moving into the Cambridge & Menlo Park offices.

From the teams themselves, to our incredible speakers and exceptional partners that were so generous with their time & expertise, the summer has been an enjoyable experience on so many fronts. And, while it’s the end of the program itself, we hope that it’s only the continuation of some long relationships to come.

We wish everyone the very best in the weeks/months/years to come and thank all that helped to make Summer@HIGHLAND 2012 a success. It was truly a team effort.

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Robbie Greenglass of Highland played a huge part in helping to make the Summer program in Cambridge a success.  From reviewing & vetting applications, working closely with teams throughout the summer, getting to know them better socially (those Monopoly games will be remembered for a long time), and being involved in so many of our events & activities, he was instrumental part of the experience.  Robbie took a moment to reflect on the summer below:

"Back in April, I walked in to a meeting at Highland after watching about 100 video submissions for our Summer@Highland program. With close to 300 applicants in total, we needed to split up the batch and start narrowing down the list to a handful of teams that are going to become our office mates for Summer. Having virtually met each team for only 3 or 4 minutes in a video, I had no idea what to expect when the summer actually started. Every summer has its surprises (like last summer when I got 11 people stuck in an elevator in NYC for over an hour), highs, lows, and most of all, an amazing amount of energy injected into Highland’s offices. While we had moved into our new Cambridge office last October, this summer was our first program in the new office. And at least for me, it was an amazing one!

From Day 1, Highland was transformed by the new members of our family. Our relatively quiet office in Kendall Square was turned into a co-working space with some incredibly bright new minds. The lights of the 16th floor stayed on much later into the night than usual…  For me, I got the chance to work with almost all of the teams here in Cambridge (those Handybook guys were always on the phone when I tried to stop by). And it has been one of the best experiences I have had so far at Highland.

I would usually take a stroll to see the teams a few times a week to see how everyone was doing. Here is the usual landscape: Our London Conference room was home to three teams. From team Webcred, Nam would usually be asleep on the air mattress (with JetBlue eye mask on), Connor in a daze because he was up all night teaching his college classmates how to code so they could come work for him.  Arye and Laura would be packing up their silver briefcase with Axio headbands to go demo their concentration monitoring device, all garbed out in Axio t-shirts and hoodies. Ilya would always be stressing that the Home Care space has way too much regulation in place, and Faheem, well, who knew where the hell Faheem was! 

Walking down the hall, we would get to the usually dark office of Team Wellframe. However, the darkness was not for lack of people in the office. These guys get the award for most all-nighters. And I am sure that will not be the only award these guys ever get as Jake, Trishan, Vinnie and Archit are about to hit the hospital market by storm with their new Cardiac rehab app.

Stepping out of the darkness and walking a little further down hall we would get to MyBetterFit. Ahh MyBetterFit. These guys really liked to redecorate their office. One day, a new couch appeared! Then, a second bean bag chair! And while there was sometimes the misunderstanding of what “This food is for Highland Partners Only” signs meant, MBF was hard at work building a next gen application for women choosing birth control (and if you ever need to find the good kind of Pop Chips or Pirates Booty, they would be hidden somewhere in their office).

Finally, we get to Handybook. As I said before, they were always on the phone! So, I never got to say hi. But they have an impressive amount of sticky notes on the glass door. So they got that going for them, which is nice.

The Summer@Highland teams turned our office into a bee hive of activity. With speakers in throughout the summer, trips to Martha’s Vineyard, late night games of Monopoly (Arye, don’t forget that I have future monopoly deals with you), and a lot of laughs, it was an amazing experience for me. It has truly been a pleasure to meet and work with every one of these teams. They are all an impressive group of entrepreneurs, and I only hope that our paths continue to cross. For me, the 100 days of summer flew by way too fast. I wish we could start all over again!”

Jack Randall (second on the right in the above picture) manned our Menlo Park space throughout the the summer.  With his desk right at the door, he was a fixture in the space and the go-to person for teams in need of anything.  Jack fit right in and helped out in so many ways. It was great having him as part of the team. We thank him for all his contributions and wish him the very best as he embarks on his freshman year at Santa Clara University.
"It is hard to believe today was my last day as a summer intern at Highland Capital Partners.  The three months I spent working with the Summer@Highland teams were incredible.  I loved watching the summer teams grow their companies, hire new employees and launch their products.  I will never forget the Speaker Series, the Giants win over the Padres, morning talks with the Melt team, watching a demo for the first time with Peter Bell in Palo Alto, and touring IDEO and Square.  My time at Highland made me all the more excited about becoming an entrepreneur and hopefully, a venture capitalist too one day.  Thank you to everyone for making my summer awesome and I hope to see you all again soon." - Jack Randall

Jack Randall (second on the right in the above picture) manned our Menlo Park space throughout the the summer.  With his desk right at the door, he was a fixture in the space and the go-to person for teams in need of anything.  Jack fit right in and helped out in so many ways. It was great having him as part of the team. We thank him for all his contributions and wish him the very best as he embarks on his freshman year at Santa Clara University.

"It is hard to believe today was my last day as a summer intern at Highland Capital Partners.  The three months I spent working with the Summer@Highland teams were incredible.  I loved watching the summer teams grow their companies, hire new employees and launch their products.  I will never forget the Speaker Series, the Giants win over the Padres, morning talks with the Melt team, watching a demo for the first time with Peter Bell in Palo Alto, and touring IDEO and Square.  My time at Highland made me all the more excited about becoming an entrepreneur and hopefully, a venture capitalist too one day.  Thank you to everyone for making my summer awesome and I hope to see you all again soon." - Jack Randall

As in years past, we had Summer teams that were also concurrently participating in Y Combinator’s accelerator program.  With YC’s focus on product fit and Summer’s on validating market & value proposition validation, it’s a great combo.  This year there were three teams that were involved in both programs - Airbrite, Collections, Cycle.
Yesterday was YC’s Demo Day at the Computer Science History Museum in Mountain View, CA.  Below are the TechCrunch write-ups on both Airbrite & Collections (Cycle will present at the winter Demo Day session).
AIRBRITE - ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE FOR TABLETS
70% of ecommerce stores can’t go mobile because of inflexible legacy software. That’s where Airbrite comes in. It’s attacking the middle market which have the most pain and the most outdated software. The founders say 3,000 brands are spending $500,000 per year on setup and maintenance fees alone – a $3 billion market. Airbrite now has Jennifer Lopez’s stores and 15 brands in its pilot and is onboarding 30 more. And it’s designed to work with booming world of APIs. It’s already got support from SV Angel, and is looking to close a round.
COLLECTIONS.ME: A UNIVERSAL FINDER FOR THE CLOUD
Collections.me is a file manager connected to the cloud. The company says that there are more than 1 billion PCs in the world and every one comes with a file manager like Finder. Ten years ago, that was all you needed because files were housed on your computer. But now with cloud apps, those old file managers don’t cut it anymore. The “Collections” native app lives on your computer or mobile phone. The startup says it’s super fast and always available whether you’re online or offline. Launched in beta testing four weeks ago, the app has seen 8,000 downloads, and found five million documents and photos. The company has a freemium model and will charge for enterprise support and premium services. They say it could replace Finder on a Mac or the equivalent on a PC and become the one app that everyone uses to access their digital content.

As in years past, we had Summer teams that were also concurrently participating in Y Combinator’s accelerator program.  With YC’s focus on product fit and Summer’s on validating market & value proposition validation, it’s a great combo.  This year there were three teams that were involved in both programs - Airbrite, Collections, Cycle.

Yesterday was YC’s Demo Day at the Computer Science History Museum in Mountain View, CA.  Below are the TechCrunch write-ups on both Airbrite & Collections (Cycle will present at the winter Demo Day session).

AIRBRITE - ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE FOR TABLETS

70% of ecommerce stores can’t go mobile because of inflexible legacy software. That’s where Airbrite comes in. It’s attacking the middle market which have the most pain and the most outdated software. The founders say 3,000 brands are spending $500,000 per year on setup and maintenance fees alone – a $3 billion market. Airbrite now has Jennifer Lopez’s stores and 15 brands in its pilot and is onboarding 30 more. And it’s designed to work with booming world of APIs. It’s already got support from SV Angel, and is looking to close a round.

COLLECTIONS.ME: A UNIVERSAL FINDER FOR THE CLOUD

Collections.me is a file manager connected to the cloud. The company says that there are more than 1 billion PCs in the world and every one comes with a file manager like Finder. Ten years ago, that was all you needed because files were housed on your computer. But now with cloud apps, those old file managers don’t cut it anymore. The “Collections” native app lives on your computer or mobile phone. The startup says it’s super fast and always available whether you’re online or offline. Launched in beta testing four weeks ago, the app has seen 8,000 downloads, and found five million documents and photos. The company has a freemium model and will charge for enterprise support and premium services. They say it could replace Finder on a Mac or the equivalent on a PC and become the one app that everyone uses to access their digital content.

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Fresh out of Harvard Business School at the time, Matthew Prince & Michelle Zatlyn participated in the 2009 Summer@HIGHLAND program.  They were our first west coast hosted team, flying solo in our Menlo Park office. We learned a lot from that experience and subsequently hosted 6 teams out west in 2011 and 8 in 2012.
CloudFlare has always had a big vision packaged into an easy to understand message.  It’s a service that does one thing: make websites better. With a single change to DNS, sites are instantly protected from a wide range of online threats, see an increase in page load speeds, and have their content dynamically optimized across the Internet. 
The CloudFlare office in San Francisco is a beehive of activity. Here is Michelle in front of one of their many project boards where they use post-its and three week cycles to manage projects across the company.

Fresh out of Harvard Business School at the time, Matthew Prince & Michelle Zatlyn participated in the 2009 Summer@HIGHLAND program.  They were our first west coast hosted team, flying solo in our Menlo Park office. We learned a lot from that experience and subsequently hosted 6 teams out west in 2011 and 8 in 2012.

CloudFlare has always had a big vision packaged into an easy to understand message.  It’s a service that does one thing: make websites better. With a single change to DNS, sites are instantly protected from a wide range of online threats, see an increase in page load speeds, and have their content dynamically optimized across the Internet. 

The CloudFlare office in San Francisco is a beehive of activity. Here is Michelle in front of one of their many project boards where they use post-its and three week cycles to manage projects across the company.

The above was not an uncommon sight throughout the summer on both coasts.  I’m sure the bean bags and air mattresses helped facilitate things (so glad we got them). The chair thing though is pretty amazing.  Steve Blank would also probably get a kick out of seeing that his “Startup Owner’s Manual” knocked Tony out what looks to be page 8.
Seriously, the long nights and weekends add up, even if you a twenty-something. You got to sneak in some rest when you can.

The above was not an uncommon sight throughout the summer on both coasts.  I’m sure the bean bags and air mattresses helped facilitate things (so glad we got them). The chair thing though is pretty amazing.  Steve Blank would also probably get a kick out of seeing that his “Startup Owner’s Manual” knocked Tony out what looks to be page 8.

Seriously, the long nights and weekends add up, even if you a twenty-something. You got to sneak in some rest when you can.

It was great to catch-up with the team at SET this week.  They’ve come a long way from 2007, when a couple of software engineers out of Boston interested in machine learning and computer vision by the names of Mike Sullivan and Bobby Impollina (pictured here) became part of the Summer program.  They applied the sciences of teaching computers to look at images and understand what they see to online advertising and have become experts in online video buying, spending several years buying online video for major brands like Microsoft, Sony, and Disney. For a long time they operated under the name of Affine, but have recently rebranded the company as SET and their headquarters are now in downtown San Francisco.

It was great to catch-up with the team at SET this week.  They’ve come a long way from 2007, when a couple of software engineers out of Boston interested in machine learning and computer vision by the names of Mike Sullivan and Bobby Impollina (pictured here) became part of the Summer program.  They applied the sciences of teaching computers to look at images and understand what they see to online advertising and have become experts in online video buying, spending several years buying online video for major brands like Microsoft, Sony, and Disney. For a long time they operated under the name of Affine, but have recently rebranded the company as SET and their headquarters are now in downtown San Francisco.

Check-out this cool video from team Waddle, a participant in the 2011 Summer@HIGHLAND program.  Waddle offers a mobile photo journal where groups capture experiences together. Get their free app here.

We’re excited that Rackspace is onboard as a supporter/partner of the Summer@HIGHLAND program.  Recognized by Gartner as a leader in both public & private cloud computing, Rackspace Hosting serves over 180,000 customers and employs over 4000 “Rackers” that strive to provide a world-class customer experience. 
Summer teams each receive free public cloud utilization as well as additional discounts for all Rackspace dedicated hosted offerings.  It’s a pretty awesome offering with meaningful impact for the startups that participate.  Rackspace joins an incredible lineup of partner organizations affiliated with this year’s program and we’re very appreciative of their support.

We’re excited that Rackspace is onboard as a supporter/partner of the Summer@HIGHLAND program.  Recognized by Gartner as a leader in both public & private cloud computing, Rackspace Hosting serves over 180,000 customers and employs over 4000 “Rackers” that strive to provide a world-class customer experience. 

Summer teams each receive free public cloud utilization as well as additional discounts for all Rackspace dedicated hosted offerings.  It’s a pretty awesome offering with meaningful impact for the startups that participate.  Rackspace joins an incredible lineup of partner organizations affiliated with this year’s program and we’re very appreciative of their support.

We had the pleasure of a special visit by Hiten Shah of KISSmetrics to discuss conversion, metrics and funnel analysis in a Q&A format with the team.  Hiten is an authority on the topic and it was a fascinating discussion as he deep dived into the business model of companies and offered highly relevant takeaways for the areas they should most focus on at the stage they’re at. As many of the teams are moving into customer acquisition and how to optimize for that, it was an extremely timely and valuable discussion for all involved.

We had the pleasure of a special visit by Hiten Shah of KISSmetrics to discuss conversion, metrics and funnel analysis in a Q&A format with the team.  Hiten is an authority on the topic and it was a fascinating discussion as he deep dived into the business model of companies and offered highly relevant takeaways for the areas they should most focus on at the stage they’re at. As many of the teams are moving into customer acquisition and how to optimize for that, it was an extremely timely and valuable discussion for all involved.