Industry experts explain how a 'paying-it-forward' effect has allowed Boston to become the country's innovation capital
PSFK’s Editorial Roundtable series takes its inspiration from the traditional roundtable: bringing together industry insiders to share their insights on emerging and compelling trends in an idea-friendly manner. PSFK guides the discussion and our roundtable helps guide the future.
Boston has long been a city of firsts: home of the first U.S. public park, public school and subway system. Rather appropriately then, if perhaps shockingly to most, it has been deemed by the US Chamber of Commerce as the city best positioned to lead the digital economy. This is made more impressive when one considers that Boston barely breaches a population of 600,000 and that it lies so far outside of Silicon Valley’s GPS coordinates. Given its singular makeup, what lessons can entrepreneurs, startups and governments (whether regionally, nationally, or globally) pull from Boston as they build out their own innovation hubs?
To touch upon some of the research found within PSFK Labs‘ new report, Innovation Debrief: Boston, and to touch upon the question above, in this month’s three-part Editorial Roundtable, PSFK spoke with industry experts who got their beginnings in The Hub to discuss what makes Boston such a hotbed for innovation.
The experts include:
Thomas Ketchell | Co-Founder & CEO of HSTRY – a digital learning tool that enables teachers and students to explore and create interactive timelines.
Rob Biederman | Co-Founder & CEO of Catalant – a network of 28,000-plus professionals enterprises can tap for on-demand talent.
Kendall Tucker | CEO & Founder of Polis – a door-to-door outreach company for campaigns and corporations.
(Below is the fist part of a three-part editorial).
It’s clear that Boston’s cooperative nexus of public, private and civic institutions has helped catapult it into place as the nation’s most concentrated tech hub. Allan Telio, VP for the Startup Institute, pins the city’s ascent on its community’s willingness to ‘pay it forward.’ Might a ‘paying-it-forward’ effect be the root reason for The Hub’s standing as an innovation leader? Is there another explanation for Boston’s particular brand of success?
Thomas Ketchell | Co-Founder & CEO of HSTRY
“I tend to agree with Allan’s point. In the field of edtech that we’re currently in, it’s a huge advantage to know that many fellow founders have faced the same issues and are ready to provide a lending hand. Boston is a perfect hub and blend for this. We have worked out of two incubators, LearnLaunch and Venture Development Center, and found that founders’ willingness to provide support for other entrepreneurs gives Boston a cutting-edge over other cities.”
Rob Biederman | Co-Founder & CEO of Catalant
“The ‘paying-it-forward’ effect is certainly part of the appeal of Boston, but it’s not the root reason. In fact, I’d say it’s the result of the people who choose to live and work here. These are people who feel deeply connected to Boston. Perhaps they went to one of our great schools—MIT, Harvard and Babson all offer fantastic entrepreneurially focused programs—or they connected to the community through a Mass Innovation Night or a MassTLC event. And they’ve chosen to remain involved because of the support system that’s in place here—the city’s leadership is incredibly supportive of entrepreneurs, local incubators and accelerators are scattered around the city, and more and more investors are calling Boston home. The result is that there’s this eco-system of innovation and a culture of ‘paying-it-forward’ that we all buy into.”
Kendall Tucker | CEO & Founder of Polis
“Boston has an incredible infrastructure of mentors and programs for first-time founders. Between the MIT Venture Mentoring Service, TechStars, MassChallenge and all the other college programs, first-time founders are blessed with advice and connections from day one. ‘Paying-it-forward’ then becomes a part of that infrastructure because at every level of a startup in Boston, there are mentors and mentees that each equally teach you incredible things.”
The Innovation Debrief: Boston offers a cheatsheet of inventive business concepts and new creations born in Boston. Sitting at the confluence of industry and academia, the city has become a hotbed of innovation across industries. The debrief covers innovation in the retail, health and wellness, education, civic, and the startup sectors and outlines lessons the city offers to inspire innovation elsewhere.
Download the report today to discover the best Boston has to offer.
Note: If you would like to participate in a coming PSFK Editorial Roundtable, please contact us here.