I was privileged to get to know a few companies that participated in the 2011 Mass Challenge.  I had a variety of conversations with them over the spring and summer of that year about the unique challenges of micro-to-zero budget start-up marketing. I offered my advice and watched them closely as they swept through the Mass Challenge process. Despite knowing the long odds to success for these start ups, I found every one of these interactions inspiring as hell. I was reminded of the very same feeling I got when I first met @markschmulen and @davidlyman, and the rest of the NutShell mail team, in Silicon Valley as I was working (quietly) to prepare to announce Constant Contact's acquisition of their company. I watched the 2012 Mass Challenge launch online this afternoon and I have to say that -- despite the NYC-esque skyline in one video and cringing as Diane Hesson made fun of Mayor Menino's accent -- the event seems to be moving from strength to strength.  I'm having talks with possible participants again this year and, with luck, I'll be able to offer my advice, if not participate fully myself as part of a team.  Again, I think back to wandering around Palo Alto with the Nutshell guys during my fairly brief visit in 2010 and thinking I could feel the start-up vibe in the air. I'd love for that atmosphere to take full root here in Boston and, I think, with organizations like Mass Challenge, TechStars, DogPatch Labs and others we are more than on our way. I'm telling you, that start-up bug is hard to shake once it settles on you, but at least we have a great and growing community in Boston that can help any entrepreneur work out his or her dream.