Don’t let anybody tell you that San Francisco and New York City are the only places you can start a business.
By Shereen Shermak (Co-Founder, BuySide FX)
In real estate, they say the most important things are location, location, and location. Location matters with startups, too.
Here are 5 good reasons to start your business in Boston, written by a non-native Bostonian serial entrepreneur and investor.
Reason #1 – INNOVATION
Boston is dedicated to building its reputation around innovation, and has been attracting venture capitalists from other areas to form accelerators.
TechStars (in which I am an LP) and MassChallenge (where I’ve competed) are just two examples of the many quality programs available to give you access to mentors and space. The mayor vocally committed to creating an Innovation District here.
Reason #2 – EDUCATION
Most days, I run a loop around the river that includes MIT, and if I’m training for a half-marathon, I hit Harvard and BU, too. There is no arguing that Boston is the top of our nation’s educational scene. And there are programs you don’t hear enough about, like Bentley’s user-experience degrees.
The culture of the city is such that many new graduates are open to taking a little equity and getting a great experience, which is critical when you need to find employees 2-10.
Reason #3 – ENTERPRISES (CUSTOMERS!)
Many startups in enterprise software start in Boston – where the enterprises are. Want to start up a software that supports businesses that may or may not be technology-centric? The health/biotech and asset management companies are enormous.
A nimble startup has the potential to develop solutions better/faster/cheaper than they can with an agile team of developers. It’s always great to have clients in town.
Reason #4 – QUALITY OF LIFE
In Boston, this is not a women-specific concern. At all three of my Boston-based startup experiences, the majority of management team members had lives outside the office that included children, athletic interests, other startups’ boards – and were not afraid to mention them for fear they’d be perceived as distractions.
Flexibility is not a ‘special case’ for women here – it’s normal for startups, and both men and women recognize that control over when and where to work makes quality of life sky-high.
Reason #5 – NETWORKING
Boston’s hip South End and North End, Cambridge and Somerville are fast becoming startup hotbeds, and lively places to hang your hat at night. You don’t have to be a networking genius here to meet great mentors and colleagues. Most people on the startup scene here migrate to Boston, few of us have lived here our whole lives. Even if you’re new to Boston, people who have been here a long time are still open to meeting newbies. Head over to the Buttery in the South End, you’re likely to meet a few VCs and a sprinkling of entrepreneurs on any given Sunday.
A sixth quality that the startup ecosystem in Boston possesses is the lack of ‘ghettoization’ of women in to fashion or other businesses targeted to women.
Women lead startups related to mobile, social media, finance and other industries in Boston, and there is no sense that one type of business or other is more female-friendly.
These are my reasons for starting a business in Boston. It’s a close-knit community in the best sense and I believe the continued commitment to startups will make it the ‘place to be’ for startups long into the future.
Photo credit: (above) Jeff on Flickr, (below) courtesy of Shereen Shermak.
Women 2.0 members: Are you an aspiring or current female entrepreneur in Boston? Let us know what you’re working on building in the comments!
About the guest blogger: Shereen Shermak is a Co-Founder and VP of Product and Strategy of Buyside FX, bringing transparency to the Foreign Exchange industry by creating a product from the ground up. Her first startup was Fashionplaytes, which she co-founded, then returned to financial services for her next three startups. Shereen holds an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School and an MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School. She has an undergraduate degree in engineering from Duke University.