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September 24, 2013

David Chang and PayPal Boston Pay it Forward with Start Tank

David Chang, a stalwart of the Boston tech scene, is up to some incredible things at PayPal’s Boston office these days.

First, PayPal is expanding its location-based ad network and creating demand for large retailers through the PayPal Media Network. Second, with PayPal Here's growing presence in the Boston office under the guidance of Tony Leach, the company's foray into mobile payments and POS systems is creating important partnerships with small businesses.

However, the part of PayPal Boston that may have a more profound and widescale impact may not be a PayPal or eBay product at all.

Since his days at WHERE.com, Chang has been trying to help smaller businesses and local entrepreneurs overcome some of the challenges and growing pains of starting a company.

With WHERE.com, Chang and Walt Doyle helped companies like EverTrue and Peekaboo by mentoring them, sharing WHERE's space, and helping inexperienced entrepreneurs get off the ground floor with their great ideas. (Brent Grinna's EverTrue is growing rapidly, and Peekaboo was acquired by nSphere in 2011.)

When WHERE.com was acquired by eBay/PayPal, Chang and Doyle (who is off on another adventure these days) wanted to use the opportunity to continue helping startups grow. So in PayPal's International Place space, they began the Start Tank, somewhat informally at first, which is now one of the most attractive incubator spaces in Boston. 

The Start Tank companies are all aligned in some way with the mission and values of PayPal/eBay. As Chang explained all the Start Tank companies need to fit in some way with the following criteria:

One, the company has to bring early insight into areas of interest in the e-commerce and payment industries. Two, the company or its leadership team can be great tools for employees in the PayPal office, whether by sharing some expertise or helping them recruit. And three, the company must be good for the Boston/PayPal ecosystem, "fueling the next wave of entrepreneurs," as Chang said.

With companies like Wanderu, CarePort, GB Recycling, and DataBox (formerly Zeppelin) already finding success in Boston and beyond, the Start Tank was a success from the start. Also, companies like Ty Danco's BuysideFX, that were in the Start Tank have moved on to greater opportunities.

Seeing the impact that these companies were having on the entire Boston innovation ecosystem, Chang decided to bring another wave of companies into the Start Tank.

The second group of companies are equally as impressive.

CO Everywhere is already making a name for itself with some great location-based services. Vioby looks to disrupt both the voice recognition and e-commerce spaces. Bare Tree Media is bringing its experience with branded products to the content creation and digital media space. The new Start Tank projects are some truly amazing companies that are about to be on your radar very soon. Even some the ones that I can't tell you about...yet.

               

 

The legacy that Chang, the original WHERE.com team, and PayPal are leaving in Boston extends beyond the companies that have benefitted from the guidance and support of Chang, et al.

There is even a little WHERE.com/David Chang 'mafia' thats are either building great companies on their own or playing key roles within the Boston tech community. While some of them may have had their own companies and products before working with Chang, Doyle, and Dan Gilmartin at WHERE, the experience at WHERE is reflected in their companies and the way they are trying to do good for the Boston tech community on their own. Whether it be Nataly Kogan at Happier, QiHui Zhang at Adelphic, Matt Gross with Mobile Monday Boston, Josh Summers and his team at Clypd, or Jim Caralis at Cannonball, the impact of David Chang and his team is leaving a huge impression on the Boston tech scene. 

It will be great to watch this next wave, the companies growing out of or just beginning in the PayPal Start Tank, make an impact as well.

There is a great chance to meet these up-and-coming companies for yourself at the Start Tank's "Open House" at the PayPal offices this coming Tuesday, October 1.

Dennis Keohane is a staff writer for VentureFizz.  You can follow Dennis on Twitter (@DBKeohane) by clicking here.