Boston: Lock The Students Up!

By Dharmesh Shah on November 10, 2008

If you’re from the Boston area and into technology in any shape or form, you should be reading Scott Kirsner’s blog “The Innovation Economy”.   Scott had an article on his blog recently titled “Boston’s Biggest Trade Associations Flunk the Student Test”.  [Oh, and by the way, Scott also writes for the Boston Globe].

The article builds on a theme that Scott has been talking about for some time:  How to keep all those great students that the Boston area is able to attract every year.

Let me open by saying that I hate students just as much as Scott does — which is to say,  I love them.  As an entrepreneur, my motives are completely selfish.  I want to keep as much raw, passionate and brilliant talent in the area as possible. 

In his most recent article, Scott looks at the local trade associations and grades them on how well they are doing to encourage and engage students.  (The comments posted to the article are worth reading as well).  I think getting the associations to pull in students more is definitely a great way to keep the students.

So, in addition to getting our trade associations to step up, here are some random thoughts on how we might lock up the students and keep the talent here:

1.  Help students build a network locally.  The more powerful and valuable the network, the bigger the sacrifice of moving somewhere else.

2.  Help students get new ideas off the ground in terms of capital and mentoring. 

3.  Help students stay students.  I think our academic institutions should invest in ways that graduating students can continue to stay involved and keep learning.  The value of all of these graduate students is much higher than just the potential alumni donations.

4.  Help students have fun.  I don’t mean in the “they need to learn how to party sense”, but in the “creativity as applied to business” sense.  Recruit student talent to help experiment with some new ideas for your business.  Try unleashing some of their creativity.  It’s not all going to work, but I’m guessing that lately, not all of your projects are working anyways.

Would love to hear your ideas on how we could do a better job locking the students up. 

And, if you’re a student yourself, what are your thoughts on how we might keep you and your awesomeness around in the Boston area?

Topics: boston
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Video from Business of Software : Everything I Know About Startups

By Dharmesh Shah on November 5, 2008

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to present at the Business of Software conference held in Boston.

Here’s a video of that event.  Though I was a bit off my game (not enough sleep), people did seem to find it interesting and/or useful and the presentation was highly rated.

I’ll watch it along with you and add some notes to this article later today.  Enjoy (and please leave your comments and criticims).  Would love to hear them.


1.  Your idea can suck.  Just get started.

2.  You can be in the middle of nowhere and still build a great business.

3.  Not having cash breeds good behavior.  It’s helpful to have constratints.

4.  In defense of the modest outcome:  You don’t HAVE to build the next Facebook.  Modest liquidity events are highly under-rated.

5.  “I’m a complete introvert.  It’s not that I don’t like people, I just don’t like beind around them a whole lot.”

6.  Something’ changed here.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get your message out there.

7.  The real issue with VC is not the cost of capital (which is high), but how hard it is to actually raise it.

8.  You have to go through the 12 flaming hoops of venture capital.

9.  All the time you should’ve been spending solving your customer’s problem, you use to start to solve the VC’s problem.

10.  Write a blog, not a business plan.

Hope you enjoy the presentation.  It was a great conference and I had the pleasure of meeting with many of you there.  Look forward to the next one.
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