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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

3. Grilling the Boston Startup Scene

Grilling the Boston Startup Scene - A Social Experiment by ParallelCities 

At N.E.R.D. 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02142 (3/23/2011 6-9pm) 
This is the first of a 5 event series ParallelCities is organizing. The series, titled "Grilling the Boston Startup Scene - A Social Experiment," will focused on different aspects of Boston's entrepreneurial ecosystem. This first event targeted Incubators and Co-Working spaces here in Boston and also served as ParallelCities' launch party.

I got to hear from Karl Buttner from MassChallenge, Tim Rowe from the Cambridge Innovation CenterGus Weber from Dog patch Labs, and Anupendra Sharma from Startup Leadership Program.

It was a great panel. The biggest take away I had was that the start community here in Boston is not in competition with each other but are all here to just help entrepreneurs become successful. It was interesting to learn that companies that started at TechStars then went on to be at DogPatch Labs or then to CIC. Or companies that started at Masschallenge then went to DogPatch or CIC. I also learned that MassChallenge actually came out of the CIC and it was the Cambridge council that let MassChallenge slip away to Boston innovation district. 

I had always thought that each group just did there own thing and once you went through a program like MassChallenge you were on your own. I didn't realize you might benefit from another incubator or that they would even look at you after you were in another program. It is such a great thing that it is not the case. 

Another great motivator was how Tim Rowe talked about the concept of ideas. He explained that you have this concept and people may think it is stupid but it is your job as an entrepreneur to keep pushing forward. Even his concept of launching a living community in the Greater Boston area that is exclusively for startup entrepreneurs may be a stupid idea or it may be a great idea but no one will no until you try it. So, do not let it get you down if you don't get into an incubator just keep pushing forward. This was very motivating for me to hear and that made me feel better about not getting into TechStars or the fact that the Founder institute pulled out of Boston this year. 

Another thing that they all mentioned is that it is very lonely as an entrepreneur and sometimes it feels like it is you against the world. Well, it doesn't have to be. Boston has turned into a mecca for the startup community. There is so many useful people, mentors, resources, foundations all here to help us out. So don't let yourself be isolated. Reach out and network and meet as many people as you can. Don't let yourself get isolated. 

That brings up another great point that they made. Don't sweat trying to protect your idea so much that you don't end up talking to anyone about it. Sure there is that rare case where someone's idea got stolen but in 99.9% of the time it is so hard to build a business that no one is going to steal your idea. Especially the startup community. There not in the business of stealing idea they are in the business of growing ideas. So get out there and tell everyone that will listen about your concept. Scream it from the rafters.

Your going to be that much further along because of all the input and connections you will make than the guy who doesn't talk to anyone in fear of someone steal there concept. The old expression 1% inspiration 99% perspiration is so true. Or in my more blue collar way of saying it. Ideas are like assholes, everyone has one. It is the person that goes out and talks about it that makes it happen. 

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