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The Boston startup community can do more

Posted by Chad O'Connor  January 31, 2014 06:00 AM

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The Boston startup ecosystems is hitting its stride. Charley Polachi wrote a great piece a few weeks ago for this blog highlighting how Mayor Walsh could help the innovation economy in Boston. I’d like to add a few more items to the list for both the Mayor and the Greater Boston business community to help keep us moving forward:

We need a national, destination event
Through some amazing work by the startup community we’ve recently added events like Unpitch and TechJam and event spaces like District Hall and Hack/Reduce that are regularly filled. Now it’s time for a national event in Boston to showcase the diversity of our startup ecosystem.

Why not create our own South by Southwest in Boston?

With over 50 colleges in Greater Boston we have the underpinnings in arts, music and interactive. If you layer on the startup community covering biotech, robotics, software, mobile, ad-tech, healthcare and education you have what you need to get started.

One way to jumpstart such an event would be to tie it to an existing national event like the Boston Marathon. With visitors from all over the world you could extend Marathon Weekend into a week long showcase with an arts and interactive festival. Who won’t want to come see a bunch of robots running and flying around the Hynes?

A common complaint among startups is the lack of national coverage and reporters in general in Boston. Let’s give them more reasons to be here and grow our regional events into national destinations.

Support #DownloadBoston
DownloadBoston’s mission is simple: “increase the awareness of Boston-based startups in this city and beyond”. Acting as an advocate they are working with community leaders to bring more national press to Boston.

If you have a startup in Greater Boston, complete the form and they’ll add your startup. When you have Boston startup news tweet @BostonTweet and and use the #DownloadBoston hashtag.

How can you help?

  • try the products and apps listed on

  • link to on Facebook, Twitter and the web

  • recommend local startups via #DownloadBoston

  • if you like what you see tweet @WSJ, @nytimes, @CNN, @Techcrunch, @Recode, @Mashable, etc. to #DownloadBoston

Startups: Give your time and your products
As a founder it is easy to put your head down and focus on your current company--and really nothing else. But over the couple of years since I cofounded Cloze I’ve had numerous coffees, lunches and phone calls with other entrepreneurs - some green and just getting started and others more experienced - all reaching out for advice around some aspect of their startup. And likewise I’ve done my fair share of reaching out.

If you are a founder of a startup offer your time to other entrepreneurs. Early stage founders are always looking to learn more about the basics: how to raise money, get introductions to angels and VCs, how to get press, form a team, hire, find vendors, design feedback, etc.. If you work in any role at a startup offer your expertise. If you have a product that can be given away for free to another startup - do so. It’s good karma.

Big businesses: Try products from the startup community
If you work at a large company, try new products from Greater Boston startups. Or better yet create an ongoing program to let startups pitch their products and get feedback. It sounds self-serving, but it is tremendously valuable.

In a similar light send executives to the startup events around town. If you are involved in marketing, communications or PR participate in the MITX Up hack events - your feedback and advice can make all the difference.

A key component of a larger, national event should also be an “Unexpo” (hat tip to the #unpitch team) to bring together Greater Boston’s established businesses with local startups. Early stage startups can’t afford booth fees so keep it simple and make it free. There could be one day for each sector to allow for a greater number of startups to rotate through.

Feel free to reach out on Twitter @alexcote or on LinkedIn if you have ideas or want to connect. Let’s keep it rolling in 2014.

Alex Coté is cofounder of Cloze. Cloze recently launched, which is free for Boston startups.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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