Entrepreneurs are about Solving Problems: 8 Ways Young Entrepreneurs are Part of the Solution

There are many challenges facing the startup community, especially for young entrepreneurs. It would be easy to sit around and complain about the status quo, but many of us are working towards solutions.  I'd like to highlight some of those problems and those finding solutions for them:

8 Ways Young Entrepreneurs are Part of the Solution

1) Problem: Lack of community for Young Entrepreneurs

General networking events are great, but not long ago, it was quite rare to meet another young person at an event and even rarer to talk to them; it was easy to think that they were the least important person to talk to with a room filled with established community members.

  • Solution: DartBoston

  • Cort Johnson and Jake Cacciapaglia had a vision for building a community around their weekly show, Pokin Holes, and to help young startups.  What it’s become today is nothing short of awesome. I’ve met many inspiring fellow young entrepreneurs and benefited greatly from both the feedback and connections I’ve received from attending. There is now a vibrant community filled with both core regulars and many more that stay in touch often.  This has also led to more young people attending other startup events.

 

2) Problem: Lack of relaxed environment for building deep connections

Networking events are great and a core part of the startup scene, but the depth of connections you can make in the networking portions of many events is too small to actually make a deep connection. 

  • Solution A: Dart Family Dinners

  • Fellow Dart community member Yifei Zhang had an idea for a relaxed alternative to networking events, which led to the creation of Dart Family Dinners: a way for young entrepreneurs (and veteran entrepreneurs) to relax, have a great meal (often a rarity for bootstrappers) with great company (we often eat alone/on the run) and make deeper connections with those they’re dining with.
  • Solution B: BostInnovation parties #StartupsDrinkBoston

  • While dinners are one way to build stronger bonds, partying is another great way.  As Laura Fitton (aka- @Pistachio) said, “we need to party more”; but before you get visions of frat parties and chaos, realize that the average BostInnovation, oneforty or TechHubFoosball party is really just a relaxed social environment with a little beverage-enabled social lubrication. 

 

3) Problem: Disconnect between Young Entrepreneurs and the investment community

Most young entrepreneurs know very little about the process of seeking funding nor who to talk to get started.

  • Solution: DartBoston’s Capitalize

  • The third show created by the DartBoston team has the widest impact.  Once a month a Dart community company gets to pitch to an Angel or VC to get a real experience as to how the experience really is.  The investment community has embraced this wholeheartedly as evidenced by both the amazing event at Bain Capital and by last week’s awesome showing of Boston community members at SXSW.

 

4) Problem: Lack of Awareness of events and resources in the community

When I started trying to build a network last summer, I had no idea what was available or even where to go.  I soon learned that it was not just a problem for young people.

  • Solution: Greenhorn Connect

  • If you’re reading this blog, it’s because you found our site, so by now you probably know the story, but if not, you can hear all about it on our About page. Ashkan and I saw a need and are passionate about continuing to find better ways to help people get started in the community. There are hundreds of resources and dozens of events every week for you to discover here.

 

5) Problem: Lack of a great regular tech blog in the community profiling startups and local trends.

Xconomy and Mass High Tech do a great job of covering the biggest news in the community, but for the most part, up and coming companies and emerging trends have to gather a lot of steam before they are published by those media outlets. Scott Kirsner does some great things covering the community on his blog, but he’s just one man.

 

6) Problem: Lack of entrepreneurial support within local Universities

You have a great idea and you’re a student.  You’ve written that business plan for your class, but now what? Not that long ago, at many schools you were left to figure it out on your own or with informal help from one of your professors. Not any longer.

  • Solution A: Northeastern IDEA program

  • Greenhorn Connect’s co-founder, Ashkan Afkhami, had the vision of creating an incubator program within Northeastern and wouldn’t stop until the Dean of the College of Business would listen to him.  That was a year ago. Today, the program is fully running and prepared to fund its first companies this spring. Students from all different colleges across the university are submitting their ideas to get help turning them into real businesses.
  • Solution B: Northeastern Husky Innovation Challenge

  • Aaron Gerry, Punit Shah and the other members of the Entrepreneurs Club at Northeastern recognized the school was in need of a business plan competition and that students lacked the means to truly understand what was needed to turn an idea into a business.  They’ve since pulled together a complete program that will feed into the IDEA program and have had many local members of the entrepreneur community stop by to share their lessons learned including Bettina Hein and Bobbie Carlton.
  • Honorable Mentions: MIT 100K and UMass VDC

  • The MIT100K was started by MIT students 20 years ago.  The UMass Venture Development Center has engaged hundreds of their students in startups working in their space.  

 

7) Problem: Lack of affordable office space

There are many workspace options in the Boston community, but for the broke, bootstrapping young entrepreneur, even a few hundred dollars a month can be too much. Working out of your apartment can work, but is isolating and far from ideal.

  • Solution: Kevin Vogelsang ran a space at MIT and is working on the next step

  • You may have read about Kevin’s informal coworking space he ran out of his fraternity’s house in Xconomy a few months ago.  That arrangement, which allowed him and other serious, young companies to work for free is unfortunately coming to an end.  Having recently met with him, I can tell you he is passionate about trying to find a similar solution.  If you’re reading this and looking to get out of your apartment/basement/bad workspace situation, fill out this application so he knows you’re interested. We’ll make sure to update you on the results of Kevin’s efforts.

 

8) Problem: Young talent is leaving the city

I’ve been quoting this statistics for months, but it bears repeating: only 26% of Massachusetts college graduates who go on to start companies actually start them in Massachusetts.  There’s no excuse for that figure and it is an indictment of many problems in the ecosystem.  Our educational system that brings talent from all over the world should be a natural talent draw to our ecosystem, not an excuse for why they don’t stay.  How do you convince talent to stay? Give them a job.

  • Solution A: Propel Careers

  • Lauren Celano recognized a gap in the ability to pair great students with mentors and quality internships.  Through Propel Careers, she’s helping pair students in the life sciences with mentoring and great work experiences.  She’ll soon be expanding to other industries like clean tech as well.
  • Solution B: the Career Combine

  • Credit Gus Weber for planting the seed that it would be great if the young entrepreneur community got involved in helping connect more of our graduating students with job opportunities in the innovation economy.  From that spark came a partnership with MITX and the event you see today.  The Career Combine is a celebration of the innovative companies in the Boston community and a great way to keep many of our students here so that they will become the next generation of great, local leaders. If you’re a company, contact us today to exhibit or job seekers register here.

 

Believe it or not, all of these initiatives were launched in the last 12 months.  So now that you know a little bit more about what the young community is doing to try to help solve the problems in the community, I ask you:

How can you help one of these initiatives?

Is there a problem we’re not working on that you could help solve?

If we all do what we can, many of our problems can be solved.

 

Together, we can revitalize the Boston entrepreneur community.

Discussion

This would be a good

This would be a good guidelines for those teens who wants to start having a business. This could be a great foundation.(Turning Winds)

a call to action

A well-written blog post ends with a beginning. In addition to solving problems, you call us to do the same. Thank you Jason.

Thanks for the generous props

Thanks for the generous props Jason.

This post illustrates what I've started calling the "patient hustle" of this Boston community. Afterall, solving these environmental "problems" is just the groundwork - no doubt there are bigger things on the way.

Re: Thanks for the generous props

Yifei,


Couldn't agree more...we're all hustling as much as we can.

 

What will be exciting to me is watching where we can all get our initiatives in the years to come. What new things will we be able to accomplish?

 

Exciting times. This is the ground floor of something great.

 

-Jason 

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

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