Sarah and I attended ENTER’s event this evening at Harvard College. Hosted by Bilal Zuberi of General Catalyst Partners, there was a great panel of players in the Boston community. Brent Hurley, WaiKit Lau and Joe Chung shared war stories from Paypal, YouTube, ScanScout and ATG while Murat Bicer from Battery Ventures added venture color.
Participants ranged from freshmen who had just taken their first CS class at Harvard, to recent grads Ho Tuan and Nicholas Krasney (Harvard, ’09) who were launching a cable service on campus. (If you’re at Harvard, check out their beta.)
Having “grown up” in Silicon Valley, I often take for granted the idea that startups are a valid and natural path out of undergrad. This is definitely not the case at Harvard. Despite the play that entrepreneurship gets in the media nowadays, from President Obama’s Startup America initiative (which oddly sounds like some sort of political action committee) to the stardom of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the world of entrepreneurship and startups is largely opaque to the general public. It conjures up the notion of two unwashed guys in a garage somewhere, eating ramen and coding their eyeballs out. Hardly an attractive picture when compared to the glossy brochures of McKinsey and Goldman Sachs!
While the garage startup still exists, much of the entrepreneurship community I interact with is made up of people who are simply passionate about solving a certain problem they’ve identified. They seek guidance on how best to build their solution, how to find a co-founder, when to approach institutional financing and even just to commiserate with fellow startup junkies to share the joys and despairs of running your own show. Shout out to some of my favorite entrepreneurs: Check out Katrina Lake on the intersection of fashion and the internet, Elizabeth Yin on validating markets without coding, Eric Bahn on anything related to GMATs or business school.
Gatherings like the one last night are a small but essential part of building a vibrant, thriving community and ecosystem.
HBS folks – Startup Tribe is meeting tonight in the game room of the Grille.