following blog post will seem parochial for all readers outside of the Boston area. Sorry about that. The message applies to every aspiring innovation hub.)
Dear Boston-area student,
Welcome (back) to the Top
City of the Global Innovation Economy!
It’s sure been quiet around here without you. I know how excited you are to hit the books
again – cram for exams, stress about your careers and freeze your butts off
during the long winter months. Good
But here’s what’s great about having you here. You provide the fuel that makes our
innovation economy hum. Every year, you
show up and shake up our assumptions about what’s new, what’s hot and give us a
glimpse of what’s over the horizon. And
for that, we are super-grateful, even if we don’t always do a good job showing
So here’s a little advice for you – do us all a favor and
plug in to the community that surrounds you.
Get engaged and integrated. There
are a crazy number of opportunities and venues for you to show up and
network. Close your laptops, turn off
your iPhones, jump on the T and get out there and participate in the local
Here are a few of the things you should have on your
must-do/must-see/must-read hit list:
- Stay in MA – this
is a mico-scholarship program that allows you to attend the incredible
array of industry networking events for free. Just sign up and show up gratis to get
savvy in your favorite area of interest, whether it’s clean tech, bio
tech, web 2.0, mobile, whatever.
- DART Boston – The
start-up game can be a lonely one.
makes it social and fun. It’s a
group of 20-something peers who are engaged in the start-up game and
hungry for knowledge, perspective, mentorship and dialog. They get together periodically for
social hangouts and learn sessions and are about as plugged in a group of
young, ambitious folks as you can find in the city.
- Mass Challenge – Our governor, Deval Patrick,
has huge religion when it comes to fueling the innovation economy. As such, he helped create Mass
Challenge, “the world’s largest start-up competition”. Go to the waterfront, swing by the
Barking Crab and buy yourself a lobster roll, and then walk over to Mass
Challenge HQ and see the open start-up haven that is forming. They have multiple events and guests
every day to fuel the young start-ups that are being incubated there.
- Scott Kirsner’s blog at Boston.com – required reading for the
start-up community. Subscribe to
his email and you’ll get a window into the community’s trends and
players. He’s been organizing
Innovation Open Houses, which are great opportunities to visit companies
and learn about different business models.
While you’re at it, make sure you read VentureFizz, XConomy, BostInnovation and
Greenhorn Connect and you’ll stay up to date on all the local buzz.
- Other blogs and Twitter tips – There are
dozens of blogs and valuable Twitter streams from local VCs and
entrepreneurs. One of the
best summaries of them is here, provided by a local Google exec. We have more VCs per capita than
anywhere in the US. You can’t grab a tall decaf latte in Cambridge, Back Bay
or half of the western suburbs and not bump into a VC or angel
investor. They particularly tend to
hang out at Harvard, MIT and Babson, so don’t be shy about visiting those
schools and attending those talks if you don’t see them happening in your
neighborhood. I did a talk last
year at HBS entitled, “What Makes Boston’s Technology Start-Up Scene Special?”
which might be a useful orientation for you as well.
Look, there’s a reason Boston
is consistently ranked as one of the top innovation cities in the world. We value geeks (Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt
draw bigger crowds than Lady GaGa when they come in town to speak), encourage
rebellious thinking (see: Minutemen,
American History), worship start-ups (why else would a World Championship
winning pitcher, Curt Schilling, aspire to become a successful start-up CEO as
a second act?) and generate our fair share of big winners (see: EMC, Akamai, Genzyme, TripAdvisor).
But, honestly, the real reason so many communities try to
emulate what we have is because of you.
You keep it fresh, every September.
Thanks for showing up. Now get
out there and mix it up.