By: John Werner, Chief Networking Officer at Cogo Labs

Four times a year, MIT alum Wan Li Zhu organizes an exclusive gathering of the MIT Alumni Angels, a group of like-minded MIT alums who invest in MIT-affiliated startups. Last week, Cogo Labs and Link Ventures got in on the action.

We were thrilled to host Wan Li, along with 150 MIT Alumni Angels members, at the Cogo Labs office to connect our driving forces in entrepreneurial innovation. But the audience didn’t stop there -- the best and the brightest came together for an exciting evening of pitching, networking and idea-sharing. Leaders from Wayfair, Amazon and Analog; Joy Buolamwini of the MIT Media Lab; Ramesh Raskar (who won $500,000 from Lemelson-MIT for his femto-photography camera invention) and many more filled our office for this insightful event. Among the evening’s presenting companies were Aulera, BidLogic, Coagulo and Telepathy.

The gathering served as a kick-off for what’s sure to be a meaningful partnership between Link Ventures, Cogo Labs and the broader MIT community. For starters, we see a huge opportunity for MIT Alumni Angel-funded companies to leverage our soon-to-be-built media room. Housed within Cogo Labs’ office, the new space will allow the companies pitching the MIT Alumni Angels to come in and create short pitch videos showcasing their company. As any startup can attest to, video content creation can be a big expense and time burden, but we see our media room as an easily accessible and valuable asset for these budding entrepreneurs.

Much like the MIT Alumni Angels, Link Ventures and Cogo Labs believe in investing in companies that share a similar mission: empowering entrepreneurs to succeed. It was inspiring to pack a room full of so many accomplished leaders who wholeheartedly believe in creating companies that solve problems for everyday consumers and who remain committed to making the world a better place. Two of Cogo Labs’ very own spinout companies, Hopjump and Uplift Financial, were among the group and are highly successful, real-world examples of this business model. Together, Cogo Labs, Link Ventures and MIT are well-positioned to drive tremendous growth and innovation in Cambridge and beyond.

A Golden Age for Startups Between presentations from companies who have received funding from the Alumni Angels, our Chief Network Officer, John Werner sat down with Cogo Labs chairman and co-founder, Dave
Blundin, and our President and CEO, Mira Wilczek, to discuss their personal takes on Boston’s innovation culture.

Dave and Mira agreed that we are currently in a golden age for startups. There have always been good ideas for companies, but now more than ever before those ideas can also be measured for their profitability. That reassurance is backed by data, which we’re steeped in here at Cogo.

While data can be used for nefarious purposes, Mira remarked that it can also be utilized to optimize the human experience, and that the “data” we know today is just an advanced version of the stimuli humans have always collected, interpreted, and responded to. “When I think about the ways that data can be used in order to mislead people,” Mira said, “ I think those exact effects can be harnessed in the opposite direction to improve society, to remove inefficiency from our lives.”

Mira’s perspective on data is one that Cogo Labs uses to build reliable, profitable startups. We use data to identify problems that consumers need us to solve, and our solutions are our incubator companies.

Given the concentration of universities in the Greater Boston Area, the talent pool in Boston is one to be reckoned with. Intelligent, hard-working, and ambitious college grads who are interested in joining the exciting culture of a startup have many options, such as Cogo Labs, or organizations like The MIT Alumni Angels.

We consider ourselves lucky that our office is in Kendall Square, which has been referred to as the most innovative quarter-mile on the planet. We are part of a community of thinkers who strive to enhance the lives of others, and the MIT Alumni Angels event this
past Tuesday was a living example of this. We look forward to welcoming Wan Li and our MIT peers back next year for this annual gathering.

Did you attend this insightful event? Share your experience with us on Twitter  @CogoLabs, and check out all of our open roles here at Cogo on our careers page.