Boston has long been associated with beacons and lanterns, and even today the reputation holds. Only now Boston is lighting the way for a new community: tech. Never content to live in the shadows of more significant tech enclaves like Silicon Valley and New York, Boston has returned to its “founding fathers” roots. Today the city has reinvented itself — becoming a magnet for innovative companies and supportive founders who are burning up the status quo.
Bright minds: Boston’s serial founders know how to succeed.
Boston is full of baseball and universities and history and clam chowder — but it’s also full of another iconic group: serial entrepreneurs. There’s a welcoming group of successful business founders that keep coming back to Beantown to foster entrepreneurship and support for small businesses.
Sharon Kan — Pepperlane
Among the premiere founders listed here, is Sharon Kan, CEO, and Co-Founder of Pepperlane. Kan has built four successful startups that were acquired by Oracle, Microsoft, Infor, and Barnes & Noble. Sharon Kan also co-founded WIN, the Women Innovating Now Lab at Babson College in Massachusetts — to help female entrepreneurs start their businesses.
The mother of two daughters, Kan founded her current company, Pepperlane, to help mothers turn their skills and ideas into businesses that fit into their lives. “Boston is one of the most active startups and tech markets with incredible talent. Four amazing female entrepreneurs co-founded Pepperlane,” says Kan.
“One of the reasons I started Pepperlane in Boston is to showcase the power of female-led companies. With more female CEOs and more mom-entrepreneurs, Boston will be a stronger and more attractive destination for new companies.”
Ben Jabbawy — Privy
Another Boston go-getter is Ben Jabbawy, Founder of Privy. Jabbawy’s passion for entrepreneurship has helped him empower and inspire hundreds of thousands of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) for nearly a decade.
Today more than 200,000 SMBs use Privy’s highly targeted pop-ups, banners, and bars to grow their email lists and increase online sales. Jabbawy says Boston’s background in cutting-edge technology helps fuel the new business economy: “Boston is the founding hometown of so many companies that have paved the way for small business innovation. So the talent pool here explicitly focused on small business, is second to none.
“Combine that expertise with our world-class universities and a strong presence of venture capitalists and angel investors, and you have the backbone of an incredibly supportive, entrepreneurial environment.”
Kate Winget — Gradifi
One of those trusted leaders is Kate Winget, Chief Sales Officer at Gradifi, a company that helps employers create financial benefits for student loans, refinancing, and college education. An active member of the startup ecosystem, she mentors and advises several early-stage companies in the greater Boston area.
Winget also serves as a mentor at Northeastern University. Winget believes the supportive nature of Boston’s tech community is what sets it apart: “The Boston startup scene is competitive, but in the sense that we all push each other to grow and succeed. It’s refreshing, really — like good-natured sibling rivalry.”
Illumination station: A global hub for Digital Transformation.
Digital transformation has become the hot topic du jour as companies of every stripe embrace a digital future. Today’s businesses are updating their tools and processes with modern technology to meet changing business and market dynamics.
That’s digital transformation, in a nutshell, it’s about identifying how you must adapt your business to drive customer loyalty while maintaining a competitive edge.
Laurie McCabe — SMB Group
AI and automation, two critical pieces of the digital transformation pie — are fueling growth for businesses of all sizes. Laurie McCabe, Founder, and Partner of Boston’s SMB Group commented that even the smallest of businesses would be wise to take advantage of new tools. McCabe stated that “Cloud business solutions increasingly build these capabilities into their applications, providing an easy on-ramp to take advantage of them.
“For instance, businesses can use AI to personalize the customer experience. They can do this while automating manual tasks that take up so much time. Tools like that are thriving in the startup scene here in Boston.”
Vishal Sunak — LinkSquares
Every business is looking for new ways to save time, of course. That’s actually what drives Vishal Sunak, Co-Founder and CEO of LinkSquares. As CEO, he oversees a company developing tools to help corporate legal and finance teams streamline contract reviews.
More specifically, they’re creating AI-powered contract and legal document analytics to prevent customers from having to read each contract one by one. “It was amazing to start our company here in Boston with access to a wealth of high-growth companies in the area,” comments Vishal Sunak, CEO of LinkSquares.
LinkSquares is taking off locally, while also gaining adoption in other high-growth hubs across the US and Canada. “We’re excited about changing the landscape of legal technology today and in the near future.”
Ady Das — Motus
Just down the street is Motus, whose technology seeks to help people identify new efficiencies in their work lives. The rising star company has developed mobile workforce management technologies to streamline mileage tracking, mileage reimbursement, delivery rates, fleet management, driver safety solutions, and more.
Ady Das, Vice President of Product Management at Motus, says the company is focused on locating inefficiencies and improving them. “When you live in a fast-paced city like Boston, it’s clear that time is everyone’s most precious resource.
We created Motus to help businesses and mobile workers streamline their workflows and improve productivity, and that’s a goal we see reinforced by the innovative Boston tech community every day.” Extra time in the day? Sign us up.
Courtney Pallotta — ClearSky
Another Boston storage-as-a-service vendor ClearSky Data, whose outstanding results recently lead to another $20 million funding round in the fall. This round is slated to fuel its expansion. Courtney Pallotta, ClearSky’s VP of Marketing, says the emerging ecosystem around digital transformation and edge computing demonstrates the cloud’s potential to create entirely new tech services that were previously not possible.
Says Pallotta, “The rise of edge computing is powering new capabilities to help businesses further optimize their operations. Optimizing contemporary operations means fueling a new wave of companies like ClearSky who are ready to help. It’s part of what makes working in a thriving tech center so exciting.”
Progress for Digital Transformation
Marie Rosecrans — Salesforce
Startups aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits of Boston’s growth. The digital transformation push has been instrumental in luring software giants like Salesforce, too. “Boston has always been a center for innovation and technology, and the recent rise in digital transformation has been inspiring,” says Marie Rosecrans, SVP of SMB Marketing at Salesforce.
“It was a no-brainer for Salesforce to strengthen our presence here.” To that end, Salesforce is hosting one of its acclaimed Growth Camp events in Boston on June 5 at District Hall in Boston. Any startup or small business looking for free help, advice, and resources is invited to attend for free.
Enlightened community: A brilliant startup ecosystem.
And Boston wouldn’t be the thriving tech hotspot it is today without its boisterous and tight-knit startup ecosystem. Just ask Stephanie Roulic, Founder and Lead Organizer at Startup Boston, an all-volunteer team mission-driven to grow Boston’s startup scene. “Boston has everything going for it — the people, the skills, the growth market,” says Roulic. “I may be biased, but in my eyes, there’s no greater place to start a business right now,”
Adding some structure is Mass TLC, the largest and most powerful technology association in the region. MassTLC’s mission is to accelerate growth, innovation, and the development of an inclusive tech ecosystem in Massachusetts.
Light it up: Boston is a beacon for new technology and startups.
Boston has always loved its reputation as an original. Its current status as a unique east coast technology center is no exception. While Boston has always been a stomping ground for universities and big business, tech companies and entrepreneurs have realized there’s a lot to like about the city, community, and culture.
Is Boston ready to be the new Tech Town? All signs point to the affirmative. Maybe that free Salesforce Growth Camp conference can help you get in on the action.