In the Sunday Globe this week, Scott Kirsner posed the question, "Does Boston Have Too Many Startups?" The article seemed to try to make the argument that all our little startups should just be employees at bigger startups (disregarding how bigger startups, start out...).
The article is really best summed up in the quote in the article by Craig Driscoll, "companies that hope to grow need to do more than complain about how tight the talent market is." I find it fitting that coincidentally, Ryan Durkin, COO of CampusLive (and mentee of Mr. Driscoll as a Highland Capital portfolio company) writes about attracting talent today.
Watching the startup world evolve over the past couple of years, I've noticed an interesting trend. Despite all our improvements and changes over this time, New York has drawn most of the attention after the omnipresent Silicon Valley. Like the entertaining comedian of the '80s and '90s, it seems we've become akin to Rodney Dangerfield (best known for his standup and role in Caddyshack): we get no respect.
It happens to us all. Your startup is cruising along, or at least you're really busy running in a million directions. Maybe you've also got pulled away with some personal issues like selling your home, caring for children or relationship challenges. No matter what the cause, you get away from the most important thing: Getting outside the building and talking to customers.
So knowing that you have dropped the ball and need to pick it up again, what do you do? How do you get back on the customer development horse?
We all get them. Those emails that make you cringe, just a little. Some brand new entrepreneur emails you for help. You're busy and you're not sure you're the right person to help. They seem like they lack even some of the most basic knowledge to get started. But they're asking you for help...probably hoping for a meeting or maybe an intro to a trusted contact.
In Boston, we have a habit of just wanting to click the delete button on such messages, or simply declining citing a desire to "focus on my startup" right now or just not being "the right person." We can do better than that. If you really can't take the meeting, let's leave each of these new entrepreneurs pointed in the right direction. The Boston Startup Guide is here to help you do that.
In Part II, we're covering what to do when a new entrepreneur is looking for mentors and you can't help them yourself. There are great things you can point them to and we're going to share them with you so you can copy and paste them in your next message, so you can say still help them even if you can't take that meeting.