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26TH April 2013

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Start Up // Choate plays New York: wraps up 3-for-3 streak


Start Up Choate NYC

Start Up Choate NYC

Ivan Taback and Proskauer hosted the final at bat of our Start Up // Choate Spring Road trip in their gorgeous space at 11 Times Square. It was a fitting finale to a great week which gathered over 100 Choaties from three cities to network, learn, and share experiences about starting and growing businesses.

The Panel was definitely skewed young and mobile, with Alex Moazed and NT Etuk joining me for the final night. We polled the crowd and we surprised to learn that there were 10 entrepreneurs, 6 angels, 8 service developers among the crowd that gathered. All said, I’d estimate 2/3 of the crowds in all three cities were involved one way or another with start-ups in their everyday lives.

Who knew.

As usual, the panel had some great nuggets to share. Here we some of my favorites from NYC: When we talked about forming an ideal team and looking for co-founders, NT Etuk said “Don’t look for a partner in the mirror” – meaning having opposing points of view when developing a product, a business, and an organization is key. When we discussed “what would be the plastics for tomorrow”, Alex Moazed was sure that mobile was the answer for how profoundly is has affected our lives just five years into the show. He also added the analogy of the toy business, which never got around to thinking like a tech company: result is that toys (plastics, plush, etc) are now $20B industry, and digital games are about $18B. Gotcha.

Here were some of my favorites from Boston and San Fran:

One of my favorite comments from Boston was Bain Capital’s Jeff Schwartz (P’16) was embrace your ignorance. It can be a valuable tool. Dream about how to solve problems. Live in the future, and build what is missing.

Jeffrey Mullen (Founder and CEO, Dynamics, Inc.) who is a legit freak of nature (lawyer, EE degree, patent holder, CEO, addicted gamer, nice guy) was around the question of singularity (will we live forever if we live to 2046, per Ray Kurzweil). “Sure, I checked it out- living forever is basically an engineering problem”. And you know, he’s the one person that I believe probably has.

Michael Holthouse former CEO of Paranet (sold to Sprint) added that the “plastics” of tomorrow may well be energy. How we make it, store it, and consume it will become vital to our future sustainability.

My favorite comment of the San Fran night from Seth Sternberg was on the makeup of founder teams: While he stressed the fact that Eng’s (his abbreviation) had to form the core of the product and it’s build, having a business guy that does the deals/money was also a healthy add. One point we all agreed on: avoid replicants. Having divergent points of view are key. Last point form the audience was this: consider how “geared” your co-founders are to start a business. It’s a long haul, with plenty of dips.

And, proud to say, Choate finally started to get its social groove on: the  LinkedIn group (now one of the school’s most active) has been full of good pointers, suggestions, and comments and a twitter feed (at this point twitter’s most inactive account ;), but getting better ) picked up steam in New York (this is a relative term- it’s a humble beginning. Check us out at #startupchoate

Soup to nuts, this whole thing came togehter in less than six weeks from the time Ron Fleury and Joe McAndrew posed the question: “what the hell do we do?”. And while Choate has been effusive in its praise and gracious with its thanks during this whole process (and tireless in its coordination), I attribute my contribution to nothing more than “doin’ what come naturally”. Hard as this may seem to some, it is really, truly all in a days work. Special praise also to our hosts at Connect Solutions in San Fran and Choate Hall (coincidence) in Boston. So now Choaties with start ups, who have a great network anyways, now have one on mobile, social and local to press the advantage.

Which is perhaps the greatest start up lesson of all: do what you love and your efforts can make a tremendous impact.


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