Making Boston Awesome for Entrepreneurs | Step six

City needs a new reputation

May 1, 2011

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Andrew Boni, 22, a senior at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, graduates this month.

During my four years in Boston, I grew to love the startup scene: hack-a-thons at Microsoft’s NERD center, conferences at MIT and Harvard, and treks to companies like Zynga, Hubspot and SCVNGR. But last summer, I landed an internship with Google in Silicon Valley, ending up with an offer of a full-time job after graduation. That’s where I’ll be heading in a few weeks.

So why did I decide to turn the page on Boston and its burgeoning startup scene?

At the end of the day, Silicon Valley will always represent the hub of all things tech just like New York is the mecca of finance, and Detroit is the Motor City. It’s simply the region’s brand. For a young person who’spassionate about technology, the allure of this is too hard to turn down.

Having spent extended periods of time in both Boston and the Bay Area, there’s just something about the Valley that makes it different. I can’t quite put my finger on it; maybe it’s the history of innovation or the cool breeze of the Pacific. Whatever it is, it has an entrepreneur-luring aura about it, like honeybees to a marigold.

So what would I do to keep someone like myself here instead of fleeing west? I’d start by dispelling the myth that Boston is a great place for education, but not so great for start-ups – a myth that lives on through the high profile stories of people like Gates and Zuckerberg.

Boston needs to get the word out about incubator programs like the Cambridge Innovation Center, TechStars, and Polaris Ventures’ Dogpatch Labs. It needs more of them, too.

Another missing ingredient is a homegrown, cornerstone company. Sure, Microsoft and Google are here, but they’re about as Bostonian as cheese steaks. The area needs a company to call its own to further legitimize the tech scene and get bright minds cultivated in these parts to stay firmly rooted here.

Yes, there are highly successful companies spawned here — Akamai, ZipCar, and Harmonix come to mind – but they somehow lack the swagger and pizazz needed to attract and hold young talent.

Still, I’m genuinely excited about Boston’s startup future. The scene today is leaps and bounds ahead of what it was just 10 years ago. Who knows where it’ll be in another 10. One thing is for certain, though — I plan to come back and help the Boston tech scene like it’s helped me.