#CRBos Cultural Revolutionaries: Boston's New Culture Change Leaders

Last night, I was fortunate enough to sit at a table with such entrepreneurial community leaders as Jeff Bussgang, David Beisel, Bill Warner, Tim Rowe, Bijan Sabet and Scott Kirsner.  It was a bit intimidating, but also very inspiring. 

 

The mission: bring those making change in the community together to help each other, raise awareness, collaborate and discuss more ideas of what to do to continue the current momentum of change in Boston's community.  

 

You can find a great initial recap at the Mass Innovation Nights blog, so here I'll just add more of what was discussed and some of my thoughts.

 

Key Concepts that are Problems:

  1. We Need More Angels: As Bill Warner put it, anyone who can write a $25,000 check per year needs to be an Angel. And it's not a standard investment, "You lose the money. It's an honor."   
  2. Too Many Feature Companies: There are a lot of startups that are being built as extensions of great companies.  This does not build great companies that are lasting to a community.
  3. Not Enough Experimentation: Bijan loves the TechStars model of, "spending $6,000 a pop" to try out new ideas. We need more of that. 

 

Key Concepts that are part of the Solution:

  1. "Play Big": Bill Warner coined this phrase early in the discussion and it spurred a great deal of discussion. We need more companies with a $1 Billion market cap or greater. We need to build great companies. This means we need to encourage more companies to think big, and try to build their companies to grow and last.
  2. "Be Louder": We need to do more to celebrate Boston companies, success stories and all the good things going on. 
  3. More Mentors: We need more people who can write $250,000 to $500,000 checks and provide resources and mentorship to the next generation of business leaders.
  4. "Create Companies to Build, not Sell": This is an extension of the feature companies dilemma. Entrepreneurs need to think about building a lasting company.
     

Action Items for the Community:

  1. Private Dinners: Nabeel mentioned Silicon Valley held very successful dinners where specific groups of people gathered for dinner to talk about their businesses, ideas and share feedback.  A number of people there promised to start organizing them right away. 
  2. Pressure Companies to "Play Big":  As an extension of Bill Warner's phrase, it's important to take the leaders of companies today and encourage them to reach for the top. Brian Halligan declared his mission for Boston to be the new marketing capital of the world like Madison Avenue is for outbound marketing.  We need more of that.
  3. Get More Angels: Bill Warner mentioned a goal for 1,000 Angels.  More Angels means more investment to get businesses started. This is certainly a BHAG, but could transform the region if accomplished. It would also require a lot of Angel training.
  4. Consolidate Everything: We need to take advantage of what we have. The only way to do that is to make knowledge of everything that's going on readily available.  Part of that is Greenhorn Connect, but it extends to all the organizations that were represented last night helping each other out by connecting everyone. 
  5. Make every College student aware of the opportunities: We are wasting an incredible talent pool of brilliant students who leave the city never realizing what opportunities they may have had.  We need to make all of them (more than just Harvard and MIT) aware of the opportunities and bring the best into the startups in the area. We need to go to them. We cannot expect them to find us.

 

As I discussed with Scott during a break, this is a case of Major League and Minor League problems. The young entrepreneur and student community has unmet needs that DartBoston and Greenhorn Connect are trying to be in tune with (Scott's Innovation Open Houses are fantastic in this area too), but there's also all kinds of large company, corporate leader issues that need addressed.  Fortunately, Scott brought the right group together, so hopefully everyone can be a part of the many solutions we need.  

 

Here's what Greenhorn Connect is going to do:

  1. Embrace our role as a hub for information: As our visibility in the community increases, we want to make sure we continue to provide everything people need.  If there's an event missing from the calendar, add it. If you know a new resource, add it.  If you have something new you think should be a part of the site. Let us know.
  2. Help Reach All Those Students: There's a number of ways we'll be trying to do that, but we'll take all the help we can get. Any introductions are appreciated. DartBoston will be going on the road to Boston area universities for Pokin Holes as well.  We want to help ease people's transition into the community if they're interested.
  3. Push for a Startup Job Fair: Students and recent graduates should have a central event to allow them to find out about the great job opportunities at startups. Take some chances on young people and they might just catch the entrepreneur bug and stick around to later start their own companies. Greenhorn alone cannot pull off an event like this, but if the right people come together this could be big and immensely successful.

Can you help make anything in this post happen? Let's bring everyone together and bring real revolutionary change.

 

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Discussion

Great post Jason, thanks for

Great post Jason, thanks for sharing.

Everyday I speak with people who have a great product idea and help them to uncover the opportunity in their idea and create a way forward.  I see a couple of key points in what you have written, angels and consolidation.  There is a real energy in the community, but people need help tapping into it or distilling the ways to connect which I think is consolidation and they need to find the right angels.  I founded ICB Venture to help people with ideas do just that. 

 

 

Feature Companies

Nice overview, Jason!  (Was great to sit across from you last night!)

I just wanted to make sure that everyone is clear on what a feature company is.  (It's just a little too close to Featured  Company.)  When we were talking about companies who are organized around producing a single feature in a larger application, or who haven't thought big enough in terms of the problem they are solving.  They are creating a company to sell to a larger company, not a company that will grow to be a market leader with $1 billion or more revenue.

Mass Innovation Nights is committed to being part of the "Be Louder" team.  We're helping to showcase local companies and products at our monthly product launch events (next one is next week!)  We also started Innovation Breakfast as a way to keep the Innovation conversation going and make those connections with industry leaders.

Re: Feature Companies

Bobbie,

 

That's a great point. We need more great companies that are lasting, like EMC.

 

Greenhorn Connect will hopefully help with the "Be Louder" philosophy, too.

 

Thanks,

Jason

 

 

Jason Evanish
CEO / Co-Founder
Greenhorn Connect
Twitter: @Evanish

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