It’s harder here
While I have bitten my tongue - often - on this topic, my closer friends know that I get fairly irritated by the constant stream of ‘we matter too, we have a great startup ecosystem’ defensive, parochial and (worst of all) self-promotional posts regarding the Boston startup ecosystem.
Which is why it was very refreshing today to read NextView Ventures partner Rob Go’s piece in VentureFizz.
To me, the biggest challenge of consumer web companies in Boston is a lack of perspective. And most specifically, it’s a lack of perspective on distribution. Most founders here are just worse at distribution, and often don’t appreciate how much of a deficiency we have as an ecosystem.
First, we are further from the information flow. We don’t know when a new feature on Facebook or Apple policy might have important implications on those platforms that one could exploit to their advantage. When a company suddenly starts to take off, it takes us longer to hear and understand why, and then try to also take advantage of that while the window of opportunity still exists. There are fewer people here who have scaled large scale web businesses that we can learn from, or employees that have worked for them to draw from. Also, the press doesn’t really care about Boston. The population isn’t that big, Techcrunch doesn’t have a presence here, most national web publications don’t have a dedicated writer in Boston, we don’t have traditional media megaphones like the NYT or WSJ, etc.
It’s just harder. There is no way around it. It doesn’t do founders any good to not face that reality, but instead, be realistic about it and respond.
Yes he is referring to consumer web companies, but most of his points on information flow, media, etc… apply to just about any startup - and most certainly the multitude of social-related startups trying to get airborne around the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) and other locations.
There are many good people and great ideas here in Boston. It can be done - but as someone who lived it for the past year+ I have absolutely no doubt that it’s harder here.
As the saying goes, the first step toward solving a problem (as I have suggested previously) is admitting you have one.
If this post is any indication, we may be - finally - making some progress on that front.