Jason Evanish, 26, Northeastern University, 2008 (BS), 2009 (MS), founder of GreenhornConnect.com, Boston
We have all the elements to make our innovation ecosystem amazing for young entrepreneurs and to take full advantage of the incredible renewable resource at our universities. With a little effort and changes in habits, we can make it a no brainer for young, aspiring entrepreneurs to join our start-up community.
Go to them. I was inspired to become an entrepreneur because I saw Russ Wilcox speak about the company he cofounded, E Ink, at Northeastern University. Hearing Russ share his passion for changing how we read made me want to become an entrepreneur and led me to later work for E Ink.
Meanwhile, DartBoston made incredible strides by creating a group for entrepreneurs under 30 years old to get together. They then went on the road to Boston schools like Tufts, Northeastern, and Olin. In each case, students were inspired to become active members of our entrepreneurial ecosystem after Dart events.
Twitter and Dropbox, both based in San Francisco, are speaking at schools like MIT and Olin. Are Boston companies?
Take more chances on greenhorns. Schools like Northeastern and Wentworth have co-op programs and many others have students take summer internships. It takes effort to find a good one, but a great intern can do great work for local firms and potentially become a full-time hire. The eagerness of a student and the economical cost of employing them will make even the most cold-hearted chief operating officer smile.
Meanwhile, hiring a new graduate can bring fresh energy and perspective to a start-up. If they’ve tried to start a company before, they bring valuable experience well beyond their years. Today’s young founders could be tomorrow’s great start-up employees. And eventually, they’ll probably become founders again.
Be louder and prouder. How often are start-ups featured in our mainstream Boston press? What if we started celebrating them in places Bostonians see — the Globe, Herald, Metro, Improper Bostonian? What if more of them had names on their buildings so passersby would recognize them? If we started celebrating start-ups and recognizing our many locally bred successes (Trip Advisor, Kayak, Constant Contact, E Ink, Quattro, Where, ITA Software, to name a few), we will expand the awareness of Boston as a great start-up hub.