Evan Morikawa, 23, Olin College of Engineering, 2011
Boston needs a new kind of vitality to match the fervor and allure of our traditional rival for technology start-ups, Silicon Valley, and an up-and-coming challenger, New York City. It won’t happen overnight, but as a twentysomething in the tech community, here are some ideas:
More awesome companies. It’s hard to compete for top talent with household names such as Facebook, Google, or Apple. Boston has awesome companies, but we need to get the word out. Top talent wants to work for the best, and it’s the opportunity to learn from that talent that draws me, my friends, and our ideas.
Don’t enforce noncompete clauses. I don’t look for a job offer with a pension and career track; I look for one with the best people, building great things. I expect to move on as trends and life change, and it’s a real boon not to be hindered by a noncompete clause when the inevitable transition comes.
Create buzz through outlets that young people read. Dining hall discussions are one of the stronger ways to establish a city as the place to be. The latest articles on Silicon Valley-based blogs like TechCrunch are more frequently discussed among my peers than the latest Boston.com article. We could use 10 times the number of stories that are 10 times as exciting to younger audiences.
Find inspiring stories of successful, young Bostonians and sell them to Hollywood. The last two major movies I saw featuring college-aged people in Boston were “21’’ and “The Social Network.’’ In both, Boston was portrayed in subtly less-than-favorable light. In “21,’’ for example, scenes of roof-top Vegas parties cut to a wintry, bleak MIT corridor.
Believe in 20-somethings. Advanced degrees, decades of experience, and classical training from elite institutions: Boston is still rooted in this older paradigm for success at the expense of investing in younger but still creative and ambitious people who don’t quite fit this mold.
For god’s sake, keep the T running past 12:30. My demographic is active past 12:30 a.m. While transit and nightlife may seem mundane, they support the power of casual and convenient encounters. Many insights for my start-up happened over beer with people I had only just met. When the odds of running into new, talented people are high, and the threshold for doing so is low, ideas will spread and innovation will grow.