Where should your startup interested friends work in Boston?

Jumptap.com fits the criteria listed above.  1. We're within that size, although expanding and will surpass it. 2.  We're growing along with mobile advertising market. 3. The mobile advertising market is multi-billion dollar market and growing. 4.  Our CEO, George Bell, was CEO at Excite@Home and UPromise.

What are the best date restaurants in Boston?

Completely honestly, I prefer Cambridge over Boston for date restaurants (see: Sheila Christine Lee's answer to What are the best date restaurants in Cambridge, MA?). But Boston has a few good spots that are intimate with solid food. Try:

  • B&G Oyster. Barbara Lynch's neighborhood oyster bar in the South End. Small, bright, particularly nice for a light raw lunch on a sunny day.
  • Myers + Chang. Asian fusion in the South End, by Joanne Chang (Flour Bakery + Cafe) and her husband Christopher Myers (Radius). Hip, casual, and they even have a "cheap date night" on Mondays and Tuesdays (Myers and Chang).
  • Radius. This is more "dress up date." Potentially a little shi shi and expensive, but well executed and the food is delicious.

I'm omitting restaurants that are too loud, too dark, and/or don't take reservations, because that tends to not be fun for dates. Also restaurants with mediocre (or worse) food, but that's just a given.

What are the best independent coffee shops in the Boston area?

Updated: 10/13/11

I can only really speak towards the shops with the best coffee, I'll leave it to others for baked goods and ambience (simply because I've only visited shops known for their coffee).

1. Barismo (Arlington)

A lot of Boston people I encounter don't know that one of the owners of Barismo, Jaime van Schyndel, is one of the most influential and well-respected personalities in the specialty coffee world. The meticulous care and detail he puts in to his coffees, from the quality and care of how he stores his green coffee beans to the pre and post-roast sorting out of deficient beans, comes out in the cup.  They roast all of their coffee on two small batch roasters in shop.  As was mentioned above, Barismo is a small shop with no seating.  If you order a drink for there, you're guaranteed to get one of the highest quality crafted coffee beverages you've ever had and a knowledgable barista who loves to talk coffee.  Barismo offers a number of by the cup brewing options along with espresso beverages. Also, Barismo is helping start a new cafe in Cambridge  that when finished, will be a destination shop for coffee geeks everywhere.  (UPDATE: Dwelltime will be the name, 364 Broadway is the address, and they are expected to open in October!)

2. Simon's (Cambridge)

I haven't made it up to Simon's yet, but they serve Barismo coffee (possibly others) and have been around for a while.  I've only heard great things about the quality of the baristas there.

3. Thinking Cup (Downtown)

I just discovered this place last weekend but they carry Stumptown Coffee beans.  Stumptown is a roaster that started in Portland and now has a couple locations in NY as well.  Thinking cup has a decent amount of seating and with two separate lines can move people through pretty quick.  They offer the traditional espresso beverages as well as your choice of three different coffee selections on pour-over (they use the Bee House dripper).

4. Voltage (Cambridge)

A clean, modern cafe/art gallery off the Kendal/MIT stop on the redline nestled under office buildings.  They have some unique and exotic signature espresso drinks that are worth the try.  The coffee offered last time wasn't great but Lucy, the owner, said that they were looking to have a rotation of different coffees and mentioned they had just got in some samples from a well known San Francisco roaster.  All this to say, Voltage is offering something fresh and seems to be headed in a great direction.  They offer unique and traditional espresso beverages as well as by the cup brewing on their V60 pour-over bar.

5. Cafe Fixe (Brookline, Washington Square)

They rotate coffee roasters and when I went in last, they were using Stumpton and were rotating to Barrington soon.  They have been the only coffee shop I've visited in Boston that offered three espresso options (blend, single origin, and decaf).  They also were offering four coffees that could be brewed to order on the Clever Dripper.  It is a rather small space but they do have a few tables and chairs.  I believe they do offer free wifi as well.

6. Render (Boston, South End)

Just opened the end of Oct. '11 in the South End and is offering their coffees by the cup only (no bulk brewer) with up to four different coffee options.  They also have a new mechanical paddle espresso machine on which they were offering a single origin espresso as well as a blend.  The are using Counter Culture Coffee and the brew and the cappuccino I had were amazing.  They do have seating as well as free wifi.

Honorable Mentions

– Diesel Cafe (Davis Square, Somerville) Huge space and last I check they serve Intelligentsia Coffee.  Espresso beverages but last I went, no by the cup brewing methods.
– Flat Black Coffee (Financial District & Dorchester) Good reviews but I am doubtful I'll like their coffee; won't knock them off the list until I've tried them though. Espresso beverages, but don't know if they do by the cup brewing.
– Pavement Coffee House (Back Bay, off Boylston) Owned by Espresso Royale, they started with so much promise!  They were rotating roasters pretty regularly but now almost solely feature Counter Culture (which is an incredible roaster with a growing presence among shops in Boston).  The quality and service has been on and off as of late.  They offer espresso beverages and by the cup brewing on Abid Clever drippers.
– Espresso Royale (Three Locations (Comm Ave [BU], Newbury, Gainsborough [near Huntington Ave])  They use Counter Culture Coffee and have begun implementing changes similar to that at Pavement (less drink offerings, traditional sizes [Capp is 6 oz]).  They can still be hit or miss depending on which barista you get, but they're using good coffee and the quality of preparation is on the up and up.

Why do people who went to Harvard sometimes say "I went to school in Boston" when asked where they went to college? It seems that people who went to Harvard are often extremely uncomfortable with and self-conscious about revealing this fact. Why?

I'm surprised that people still use the "Boston" gambit. I don't think it works — people smell a rat and immediately assume that you went to Harvard or MIT and that you're just trying to spare their feelings (which is patronizing) or make a show of your modesty (which is immodest). I usually just try to be up front about it, and turn it into something that keeps the conversation going rather than ending it. For instance, "Yeah I went to Harvard but I actually spent all my time in a basement working at the campus newspaper," or "Yeah I went to MIT but I studied history" (most people don't even know MIT has a school of humanities).

Who are the most influential investors and entrepreneurs in the Boston startup scene?

I am going to make a rough list from the top of my head:

Dharmesh Shah: Founder of Hubspot, Blogger at Onstartups and Angel Investor. He has done everything and that is why he is very influential. He is actively involved through angel investing in awesome startups. His company HubSpot is going through a hockey stick growth and was voted one of the best places to work for. On his blog OnStartups, he gives one of the best advice and which is why it is one of the most read blogs.

Matt Lauzon: Founder of Gemvara. He is the most inspiring young entrepreneur the boston community has right now. I personally look up to him as a stepping stone for any aspiring entrepreneur under 25. No wonder he was named 25 under 25. He has not only raised a lot of money from great VC firms, but he has grown his company and created a great buzz and culture around it.

Sravish Sridhar: Founder of Kinvey. He moved to Boston for Techstars and has created quite a name for his company and himself. The most awesome thing about him is he often blogs about his competitors in a very positive way instead of trashing about them like most other people.

I could keep going on and on but for currently these three stand out to me a lot. Other notable ones are Sean Lindsay, Jay Meattle, Dave Balter, Jason Jacobs etc.

Hope this helps.