Parenting, in any form, comes with its challenges. Every bit of life experience with offspring teaches that. Here at Link Ventures, however, we think we have a few of those things figured out. Our startup “parenting” is going pretty well so far, especially when it comes to generating, growing and launching internet companies. Within the thriving tech ecosystem in and around Boston, we nurture our charges through Cogo Labs — Link’s wholly-owned, self-sustaining and revenue-producing incubator/accelerator at One Kendall Square. With no shortage of filial pride, Cogo has developed into a data-crunching, company-launching, career-expediting force of its own.
Cogo is dedicated to recruiting and hiring promising entrepreneurs, who can then be matched with data-centric projects that have the potential to turn into spinout companies. As CEO Mira Wilczek puts it, Cogo is always looking for the next generation of leaders who “are analytical and entrepreneurial.” Everyone who joins that big data brood is given the opportunity to experiment with an ever-expanding set of proprietary databases. And those who demonstrate leadership chops — whether from past experience or current projects — can become part of executive teams as new companies are spun out.
As all good parents would advise, one should always seek to associate with quality individuals. So naturally, Link and Cogo Labs look for talent from well-respected institutions such as MIT, Tufts, Dartmouth, and Northeastern, among others. Our location in the educational epicenter of the United States is quite intentional, as we view proximity to the Boston area’s vibrant tech (and social, and sports) scene as essential to attracting and keeping high-achieving employees. Wilczek explains that “for the space we’re in, we’ve really vetted the business model, so much of our future success hinges on finding and pulling in the best people.”
In the fall, Link “sibling” Vestigo Ventures conducted four semester-long projects with graduate and undergraduate students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The mutually beneficial relationship allowed students to apply their academic skillsets in the real world of venture capital, while offering Vestigo a data-derived evaluation of its performance history in the FinTech space. In addition to proprietary data access, the WPI students were given “unique and unfettered access to the lab and leadership across Cogo,” says Vestigo CEO, Ian Sheridan. Describing the bigger-picture benefits, he adds:
“In the venture startup realm, firms like Link and Vestigo are uniquely connected to the academic community. . . . not only to recruit the next generation of great talented minds, but also to connect with the next generation of entrepreneurs who are going to change the world.”
Throughout the semester, Cogo and Link have been running eight internet companies in parallel, with plans to expand the portfolio to thirty concurrent companies by 2020. Like all diligent parents, we supply our progeny with various types of support: consumer data assets, office space, human resources and accounting functions, and ready access to advertising operations and business partnerships. Our mission is based on the belief that a substantial stake in early entrepreneurship and education can make all the difference when it comes to sustained success. The goal is to move everyone forward together, according to individual aptitudes and drive — getting both companies and careers off the ground and into the stratosphere.