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Site connects startups

StartHub provides support to Boston’s entrepreneurs

Martin Desmarais
Site connects startups
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the launch of online startup platform StartHub on Oct. 27 at the Roxbury Innovation Center along with IBM General Manager Sandy Carter, Venture Café Executive Director Kevin Wiant and Gust CEO David Rose, at podium. (Photo: Mayor’s Office photo by Don Harney)

Since he took office, Mayor Martin Walsh has pledged to make Boston a friendlier place to start a business — especially in Boston’s oft-underserved neighborhoods — and he has been busy trying to make this happen. Last week, he was back at it again, out in Roxbury to push the launch of the city’s first online startup website, StartHub.

StartHub, the plans for which Walsh announced at the start of the year, is designed to support and help grow Boston’s rising startup community with one designated location to connect startup companies with investors, provide information on jobs and education, link businesses with co-working and incubator spaces throughout the city, feature news about the city’s startup sector and house a calendar for startup-related community events.

Walsh called the development of StartHub — — an important tactic for Boston to help small businesses and entrepreneurs succeed and grow within the city borders.

He can be credited with lining up a strong group of partners in the effort — notably IBM, startup support organization Venture Café and funding platform Gust.

“I am excited to offer our startup community this centralized online platform and I thank all of the partners for their collaboration as we continue to establish Boston as a hub of entrepreneurship,” Walsh said at the StartHub launch event, which was held on Oct. 27 at the Roxbury Innovation Center in the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building.

In attendance with Walsh were the city’s Chief of Economic Development John Barros, IBM General Manager Sandy Carter, Venture Café Executive Director Kevin Wiant and Gust CEO David Rose.

It is all part of a move to create more business innovation districts throughout the city. The importance of doing so can be highlighted by the track record such districts have in sparking economic growth, as well as fostering successful startups and small businesses.

Locally grown

In the urban entrepreneur narrative this is also important because when startups stay in the communities they are from they have a better chance to connect with the local economy and the diversity of the environment can also impact the companies that are developed. Putting like-minded entrepreneurs together and working in proximity to each other has been shown to spark the creation of businesses that don’t need to leave the area to be successful.

At the same time, though, these entrepreneurs might benefit from being connected to the larger startup community in the city and the region — and this is where Boston hopes that StartHub can come into play.

While critics might say Start-Hub is really just only a website, Venture Café’s Wiant cautions against underestimating the impact it can have.

Venture Café is an organization that works to connect the startup and innovation community through operating spaces and programs. In addition to running the Roxbury Innovation Center, it also operates in District Hall in Seaport and holds business innovation events in Kendall Square.

For Venture Café, success is all about bringing startups and entrepreneurs together and connecting them with the resources they need to grow.

As the reputation of StartHub grows, Wiant anticipates it becoming that first initial resource that entrepreneurs turn to.

“The primary reason why we were interested in this type of resource for the startup community is to extend that support to people who are interested in starting a business,” Wiant said. “We thought this is a great compliment to what we do and what other organizations do in the area.”

Forging connections

Boston isn’t reinventing the wheel with an online startup platform, in fact, Wiant said the need for this is not new — and mirrors what other cities have done. Organizations like Venture Café were started in part to combat the very common complaint from small business owners and entrepreneurs that they don’t know what resources are available to help them grow their companies and they don’t know how to connect with them.

StartHub can be Boston’s greatest response to this issue.

If more resources at hand ultimately convinces more entrepreneurs to launch startups the endeavor should be considered successful.

“The hope is people feel comfortable to take a risk because others are going to be there helping out,” said Wiant.

Lastly, Wiant pointed out that StartHub is in its infancy and will continue to grow and improve as more and more resources are added.

“We also look at this as not something that is done. It is something that is going to evolve over time,” he said. “This is a multi-year commitment to keep this operating.”