Local governments are getting into the act of supporting startups by naming leaders of entrepreneurship with goals of actively supporting innovation, startups and entrepreneurship environments in their communities.
Rory, what is your main goal as the new "Boston Startup Czar"?
My main goal is to ensure that the pipeline of communication between City Hall and the startup community is strong. This effort is truly going to be a collaborative approach, so the more conversations I can have with members of the startup community, the better positioned the City can be to foster an innovative ecosystem.
I want to support the Mayor's vision of spreading innovation throughout Boston's neighborhoods. The Mayor announced the Roxbury Innovation Center in the newly redesigned Bruce Bolling Building in Dudley Square. We couldn't be more excited that Venture Caf, the same group that operates District Hall, will also be operating the Roxbury Innovation Center in collaboration with Skylab, a local neighborhood organization.
If we can bridge the gap that exists between residents and innovation, as well as provide access to mentors, workshops, and an infrastructure that will assist them in starting that business they've always wanted to start, but wasn't sure how to. This has huge potential to unlock a new mechanism for local residents to utilize their talent and creativity.
Amir, what's your main goal of the EIR of LA?
To help entrepreneurs succeed in LA by creating a supportive ecosystem that cultivates more venture capital, attracts and retains more highly-skilled talent, and drives civic innovation. I spend very little time in the office. Instead I am often out with the CEO's and entrepreneurs of LA getting feedback on ways the city can help emerging and existing companies, and engaging partners who can contribute to the city's efforts. To this end, I believe that if we engage the right people, communicate the right message, and support the highest potential opportunities, we can develop LA into a leading entrepreneurial city.
Rory, how is the city of Boston supporting startups?
I believe my position will allow for the City to directly hear the needs and concerns of startups, and give us an opportunity to respond to their needs and concerns in a timely fashion. Furthermore, just by the creation of my position, the Mayor is signaling that Boston understands the importance of startups in this City. Again, it's that open pipeline of communication and advocacy that will help connect startup businesses to available resources here at City Hall.
Amir, what's LA doing to support startups?
We are helping with policy changes that reduce burdens on start-ups, convening founders to better understand what is working, celebrating the ideas and companies that are growing quickly, and bringing the right partners to the table for the continued support and growth of the ecosystem.
Rory, give me your elevator pitch to an entrepreneur looking to start a company. Why should they select Boston to do so?
Boston is a city that already has a thriving ecosystem for innovation. There are already hundreds of companies here with talented people working for them. However, each year, tens of thousands of students graduate from the best universities in the world, and they have the talent that companies can use to take their business to the next level. The talent pool will never be shallow here.
Additionally, Boston's size is its greatest asset. If you start your company here, it is a part of an entire region that takes pride in innovation--with easy access to Cambridge, Somerville, and other surrounding towns. Being in such an ecosystem will help you think more creatively, will push you in new and exciting ways, and ultimately make your product better.
Amir, what different about the startup scene LA as opposed to other places such as San Fran or Austin?
Los Angeles has incredible diversity in industry, manufacturing, people, food, geography, art and culture. In fact, 39 countries have their largest diaspora in LA. That is a remarkable figure! It's the creative capital of the U.S., and I am seeing more and more entrepreneurs value quality of life and work/life balance as important variables of where they want to live. While we are not there yet, our venture capital system and mentorship network have come a long way. Living in a healthy place with ample sunshine, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a healthy lifestyle is important to millennials who are working on their next start ups.
Finally, Rory, what is your ultimate vision for the startup community here in Boston?
One of the areas that Boston needs to focus on is how we sell our brand. There are amazing companies here that are leading the way in innovation, but we don't market that very well. Boston is a humble city, except when it comes to sports. My goal is to make sure that the rest of the country feels the excitement that is already present here. If we can take that excitement and turn it into a higher retention rate of college graduates, who will use their talents to take companies to the next level, or attract more companies here from the rest of the country, Boston's startup community will continue to expand and be even more successful.