Comparisons between startup cities are overdone, period. Too many people in Boston’s innovation scene walk around with a chip on their shoulder. My own view is that you should live where you want to live (although if you want to innovate it probably should be a city of decent size) and then set about working on the coolest stuff you can in whatever city that happens to be.
But one interesting thing I’ve heard a lot is the idea that in Boston we solve the “hard problems.” We’re huge in healthcare, for instance. We have a great cleantech cluster. We’re not simply focused on the next Angry Birds (though those are great, too).
Well, Ajay Agarwal of Bain Capital Ventures has a post at Business Insider that makes a similar argument. Writing about Kiva Systems Founder and CEO Mick Mountz, Agarwal writes:
1.There is still a place for entrepreneurs to solve really hard problems with massive innovation.
There have been several blog posts, most notably by Peter Thiel and Founders Fund, discussing the venture community’s lack of desire to fund transformational companies — those with disruptive technologies taking on big problems. Mick saw this firsthand. When Mick first started Kiva shortly after the bubble burst, he was unable to raise funding on Sand Hill Road. This ultimately caused him to move to Boston, where he raised his angel round and eventually his round from Bain Capital Ventures.
This is part of why I love to hear about Boston’s blooming robotics cluster. I came across this via The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal, who recently penned an essay on VCs’ general disinterest in truly disruptive technologies. And as Agarwal notes, that’s a drum Thiel has been beating for a while.
Do you buy it? Is Boston more “serious?” I’m not sure I do, at least not yet.
It’s hard to measure “seriousness” based on the data we have available about startup activity in various cities, but for an overview of what Boston’s startup scene is about, here’s a cheat sheet:
[Image via Business Insider]