Yes! I’m saying it – we are in the early days of an entrepreneurial renaissance in Boston. Even in the wake of TechCrunch Disrupt. Even though every VC that talks about the greatness of New England is doing so from the Acela to NYC.
Those of us who have been engaged in the Boston startup eco-system know that this is the most excitement we’ve seen in many years. I was having lunch with a prominent local entrepreneur, and he remarked that there is more startup activity among young entrepreneurs in Boston than anytime in the past 10 years. And as I’ve said before, more shots on goal will result in more big winners.
There are many reasons for this. I’m going to talk about two.
1. We are seeing multi-generational involvement and mentorship in the Startup Community. This is thanks both to successful entrepreneurs who are actively giving back, as well as motivated young entrepreneurs who are creating buzz and density among their peers. For the late 20’s – early 30’s crowd, there is the PopSignal group led by Brian Balfour and Jay Meattle. It’s THE entrepreneur gathering for the up-and-coming founders, but you will almost always see some of the more successful local entrepreneurs attending to give back to the community (guys like David Cancel, Andy Payne, Rich Miner, Mike Baker, and others). And the early 20’s crowd is not being undone, with Dart Boston getting under-30 founders together to collaborate and get feedback from top VC’s in town.
2. There is critical mass of great companies (and recent exits) where future founders and entrepreneurial executives are being trained. Not everyone will found a company right away. For those that don’t, it’s important to have pockets of excellence where talented folks can work, learn a trade, and gain experience behind successful entrepreneurs. It’s also nice to put a little money in one’s pockets too, to create flexibility to experiment. Boston has several very important pockets of excellence and great companies that are talent magents. Including:
- E-Commerce (RueLaLa, CSN Stores, Shoebuy)
- Mobile (Quattro, Skyhook, JumpTap, Enpocket, MocoSpace)
- Marketing, Advertising, and Analytics (HubSpot, BzzAgent, Visible Measures, Pangea Media, Dataxu, Constant Contact, Compete)
- Other Awesome Companies (TripAdvisor, ZipCar, Grasshopper, Kayak, etc)
- Other companies in vibrant sectors I’m ignorant about like Cleantech and Life Sciences.
I think what’s happening in NYC is great, and I definitely spend my fair share of time there and in Silicon Valley (and have angel investments in both locations). But I’m thrilled to live in Boston, and I’m partially glad that other investors are spending time elsewhere. Leaves more opportunity for me 🙂