The Exchange is part of an ongoing series on The Hive tackling the questions facing Boston’s entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators. This week, we ask participants: Are angels and VCs in Boston too stingy and is that hurting the local start-up ecosystem?
Below Jeff Fagnan, a partner at Atlas Venture, argues that New England’s VCs and angels have grown more comfortable with investing in first-time entrepreneurs that has created a strong, vibrant environment that fosters recruitment, mentorship, and education for young start-ups.
Read the rest of The Exchange. Have your own opinion, or an idea for another topic? Email Hive@Boston.com
There is an unmistakable re-emergence of innovation, entrepreneurship, and connectivity in Boston and Cambridge. New England venture capital is also on a roll after ten years of a dark ages period were we did not lack innovation but lacked innovative capital. Today, New England venture is more service oriented, more agile, and less jaded.
Venture as a contact sport: Venture can’t effectively be done with an ivory tower mindset from money hill in Waltham. Treating venture as a contact sport means connecting with entrepreneurs and companies on their turf on a daily basis. It’s a philosophy of the entrepreneur as the customer and the atomic unit. It’s a not a business model, it’s a social contract. It’s a movement around being part of the entrepreneurship fabric of the region and taking a pay-it-forward approach to the long-term nature of relationships and start-up company life cycles.
Collaboration versus silo approach: Organizations like hack/reduce, TechStars Boston, MassChallenge, Boston Startup School, and others all stem from the mindset of collaborating to further entrepreneurship efforts in New England. Innovation is life blood. It’s our job to celebrate, highlight, and lift New England innovation regardless of professional affiliation. Many of us are doing our part to promote and further the “Built in Boston” badge.
Focus on first-time entrepreneurial talent: The majority of colossal technology breakthroughs have originated from young, first-time entrepreneurs unencumbered by constrained thinking. During the dark ages, New England backed away from first-time entrepreneurs and chose to focus solely on serial entrepreneurs with the appearance of successful track records. Today, this has changed and New England venture has tripled efforts around the recruitment and education of first-time entrepreneurs. New England has 5,000 computer science graduates annually. Many of these graduates want to start a company. They are looking for help, advice, and resources. Several of the region’s venture firms, such as Atlas, are often offering seed capital and mentorship programs.
It’s our responsibility to sustain the momentum. This region has created and is cultivating a philosophy that embraces entrepreneurship and innovation. You see it everywhere you turn. Mentoring programs, collaborative work spaces, education, seed programs…the list goes on. You can feel it. The ecosystem has a pulse and a nucleus. It’s palpable.