Earlier this month at the Mass Tech Leadership Council's Innovation Unconference, I helped lead a session called "How Do We Turbo-Charge the Culture of Entrepreneurship in Massachusetts?" It attracted a room full of about 35 people.
I believe, as you may know, that there is a cultural revolution happening here, and that there are two kinds of people in our region's innovation economy:
1. People who do their jobs in isolation and continue to repeat the same old tropes about how "we don't network enough" and "things are so different in Silicon Valley."
2. People who are inventing new networking events, mentoring young entrepreneurs, opening doors for students, running programs to help start-ups get off to a faster start, investing in new sectors, and generally bouncing off one another in ways that create really great sparks.
I generally try not to hang around with the first group of people, and am counting the days until they all retire or expire.
At our session, we tried to list all of the events, associations, and programs that already exist to support this new culture, as well as some things that are in process. (I'm sure we missed quite a few.) We also created a "to do" list, like ways to improve coordination among our great universities, or to make angel investors more visible.
Here are some links, as well as some rough notes from the session:
- Two Northeastern grads have created a great new site called Greenhorn Connect, which just launched this week. What I like best about it is that it lists things like VC firms, incubators, and industry associations -- but it's a wiki, so once you register, you can add more to it. Why not go do that now?
- Microsoft's Don Dodge posted about some of the angel groups, workspaces, conferences, media outlets we discussed, along with some of the "super-connector" individuals -- with links.
- Tom Hopcroft of Mass TLC posted some of his notes from the session.
And I'm including below the notes that Allison Parker of Microsoft took, which are somewhat duplicative of the two posts above, but may be useful just for the record. (I've cleaned them up a bit...)
Culture of Innovation
Community of Innovation
· Existing initiatives
· What ought to exist
Observations on Current Ecosystem
(missed a few)
Laura Fitton: Need more angels in New England!
Lee Hower: Whole Ecosystem… Not just a funding gap.
Matt Lauzon, Paragon Lake: Part of his pitch was that they were looking to bring a CEO on board… Bigger problem, how do you get students connected to those small/emerging companies?
Russ Wilcox/eInk: Not us vs. Silicon Valley; it’s us vs. the rest of the world… Boston very inward looking invention. Would like to see more outward looking innovation. Asia, Brasil, India, China… Need to get their needs into Boston and get more of the markets outside of Boston.
Jeremy Halpern/The Capital Network: Mentorship. Factory at Tufts. 90% of people he sees underutilize human capital. Carve out an extra 3-5 hours to bring a student on board. (List of resources, TechStars, NE Angels, etc.). Pay it forward.
Romulus guy: VCs show differing levels of respect to first-time entrepreneurs.
· Tech Stars
· Business Innovation Factory
· Stay In MA.org
· Bettina Hein’s Group of Women
· Mobile Monday
· Open Coffee
· Tech Tuesday
· Microsoft NERD
· Romulus Capital – works with 1st time entrepreneurs coming out of university
· MIT Enterprise Forum
· MIT 100K competition
· MIT Entrepreneurship Center
· SwissNex Boston
· Boston World Partnerships
· Boston Post Mortem
· DART Boston
· Social Media Awards
· TIE Boston
· Dogpatch Labs
· Vilna Shul
· BYTE (Boston Young Tech Entrepreneurs)
· Common Angels
· Hub Angels
· Launch Pad
· Mass High Tech
· Green Tech Media
· Innovation Economy
· Funded Founder (Bay area link)
· WPI Venture Forum
· Cambridge Innovation Center
· Cambridge Coworking Space
· UMass Boston VDC
· Quest for Innovation
· Mass Inno Nites
· Berkman Center
· Awesome Foundation
· Info Super Highway
· Beta Spring (in Providence)
· Boston/Tufts/Northeastern/BC TC
· Start at Spark
· Highland Capital
· Venture Café
· Venture Well
· Dog Patch Labs
· IDEA @ Northeastern
· Youth Cities
· Innovation Open Houses
· Mark’s Guide/Gary's Guide
· Venture Fizz
· TCN Student Fair
· Coordination (diminish the oversupply)
· TechCrunch50 type of thing
· Exchange for open source talent
· More thought leadership on global stage
· More connections to work with universities to get students in engineering and science into local smaller companies
· Integrate students more
· ‘Open Employer’ badge for companies that don’t require non-compete
· Gov funds
· Embrace greenhorns
· VC reprogramming
· More practical meetings, e.g., some schools around web product managers (Tom Summit)
· We’ve lost the acquirers to the West Coast… How do we court acquirers?
· Angel matching services (Boston angel environment very formal)
· Once it’s funded, what tools and capabilities are there to help the companies scale?
· Silos of info at every local school
· Have the list and help people navigate which resources to tap when
· Map the angel network for entrepreneurs -- (angelcapitalassociation.org)
· Make events easier to find online (so that they’re easy to share online). For example, email invites aren’t sharable on twitter, etc.
· Go-to designees at all companies (a la Don Dodge)
· Attract & retain students and smart people from around the world