Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Some Notes on Boston's Future

I met with some folks this week at Boston's City Hall to riff on some of the themes I've been writing about (most notably, what Boston can do to keep young people here... starting companies and going to work for our most innovative businesses), and also hear what the Boston Redevelopment Authority is up to.

A few notes from that conversation...

1. Boston could do a better job at being a lighthouse... sending the message that this is where you come to learn and to start businesses in life sciences...cleantech...robotics...Web 2.0 services...or anything else that's innovative. We need to communicate what's here more clearly with the rest of the world.

2. We need to help students who come here to learn to get connected with the business community: successful entrepreneurs and investors who're open to backing young people. (Or do we want the Sergey Brins, Mark Zuckerbergs, and Bill Gateses of the present to start their companies elsewhere?) One idea would be two separate annual events that would be open and free for any undergrad or grad students: say, one in the fall where they could meet, hear from, and schmooze with entrepreneurs...and another in the spring where they could do the same with VCs. (I had a conversation on that topic later in the week with Don McLagan of, who is exploring for the trade group MITX ways to build better bridges between students and tech companies.)

3. One resource that'd be helpful to young entrepreneurs (and everyone - let's be honest) would be a wiki that served as a sort of "Entrepreneurs Guide to Boston," offering info about VC firms, networking events, shared office spaces, etc.

4. The BRA folks mentioned that they have a gigantic old building in Charlestown that's in search of a new purpose: the Ropewalk. What if, we brainstormed, five or six universities got together to turn it into a collaborative space for start-up companies founded by students or profs? Wouldn't it be cool to collect start-ups from Babson, Bentley, BU, BC, etc. in one place, and see what happened?

Here's a video that shows what the Ropewalk was like in its heyday:

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