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The Rise of the Mission Startup

Lawrence Coburn is the CEO and co-founder of DoubleDutch, and has lived and worked in the Mission since 1999.

 With BART access, sunny weather, cheap food and drink, and Dolores Park, the Mission District has a lot to offer startups.

But even with these advantages, The Mission hasn’t always been the easiest place in San Francisco to launch a company.

When I arrived here in 1999, there was outright hostility between the startup and local communities.  My first startup set up shop in 1999 at 14th and Valencia, and we learned very quickly to keep a low profile.  I remember vividly seeing people riding around the neighborhood on bicycles dragging monitors as a protest against companies like mine.  It was pretty clear at the time that local Missionites were pretty pissed about the rising costs in the neighborhood, and us startups were an easy target.

Some startups didn’t keep a low profile, and ran into problems because of it.

In September of 2000,, a high flyer at the time that helped SMB’s with online tools, actually had their 22nd and Mission street offices occupied by protesters, leading to the arrest of 20 people. has the whole story of how community organizers were angered by the displacement of non profits to make room for Big Step, and decided to take matters into their own hands.

Just two months later, had their office padlocked and blockaded by protesters who were outraged by Zing’s use of work / live lofts as a commercial space.

But for better or for worse, gentrification has slowly succeeded in taking off much of the anti startup edge from the neighborhood, and today, in 2012, a thriving startup community is emerging.

Here is a look at some of the companies that are making the Mission their home:

Crowdflower - Formerly Dolores Labs, enterprise crowdsourcing shop Crowdflower employs about 50 people in their 17th and Mission location.  Crowdflower is hiring.

DoubleDutch - We make mobile, social productivity apps for the enterprise, and employ about 15 people in our 22nd and Mission office.  We’re hiring.  Not to be confused with Double Dutch (the bar) which is also awesome.

Fora.TV - Fora.TV puts conferences online in video format.  They are hiring.

io ventures - io ventures is an incubator / seed investor with offices and a cafe at 19th and Valencia.  Apply now.

SecondGlass - a wine startup based in the mission. They have office space!

Simple Honey - a travel booking startup that employs 5 people in their beautiful 22nd and Mission office.

Skimble - Health and fitness oriented mobile apps.

The Go Game - Interactive street games, otherwise known as the Godfathers of Geo.

WellnessFX - Detailed health analytics, located in the Hamm’s Building.  They are hiring.

Wix - Flash website publishing tools, located on 22nd and Mission.  Wix is hiring.

In the "gone but not forgotten" category, we will put Plancast, Obvious Corp, Milk, Fluther, Posterous, Typekit, Sprout, RateItAll, and Townhog who were all acquired, relocated, or went into hibernation.

If you are a startup looking for space in the Mission, there are two buildings in particular to start with: the US Bank building (home of DoubleDutch) on 22nd and Mission Street (see photo below) and the old Hamm’s Building on 15th and Bryant.

Feel free to drop us a line for more info.

By Lawrence Coburn | 19 March, 2012

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About the Author: Lawrence Coburn

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Founder & CEO