Entrepreneurs Gather in Cambridge for Innovation Economy Workbar Speaker Series

The Boston innovation scene is growing and evolving each day, and entrepreneurs in all industries are adjusting to succeed in a competitive economy. This topic inspired a recent panel held at Workbar Cambridge on Feb. 22, where local investors and founders discussed the future of innovation and shared actionable advice for young entrepreneurs.  

Rich Conversation and a Full House

 The panel discussion "Thriving in Today's Innovation Economy" held at Workbar Cambridge on Feb. 22. Photo by Sooz. 

The panel discussion "Thriving in Today's Innovation Economy" held at Workbar Cambridge on Feb. 22. Photo by Sooz. 

Thriving in Today’s Innovation Economy was the first edition of Workbar’s new Speaker Series events. Moderated by Boston Business Journal technology reporter Kelly O’Brien and featuring panelists Larry Kim (CEO of MobileMonkey, Founder of WordStream), Meredith McPherron (Angel Investor/former Director of Harvard Rock Center for Entrepreneurship), Rich DiTieri (CEO of Startup Institute) and Yulkendy Valdez (Co-founder and managing partner of Project 99), the discussion dissected the most important aspects of building successful organizations.  

In front of a crowd of around 100, the 1.5-hour panel discussion provided insightful contributions about technology, leadership, diversity, inclusion and recruiting in the startup and innovation environment in Boston.  

Diversity is an Investment

Rich DiTieri of Startup Institute spoke about the importance of recruiting for long-term success and taking time to find the right talent that fits your company culture. “Sometimes you are desperate to fill roles, and you hire too quickly, you hire within your network, and that’s not always the right move,” he said.

There is economic value in diversity. It’s a big mistake to just hire people who look like me. You can lose great talent. It slows the company down. Building a good diverse team is a great long-term strategy.
— Rich DiTieri

Similarly, when speaking about talent retention in the workplace, Yulkendy Valdez of Project 99, an organization that helps companies engage with diverse talent through leadership programs, referred to the issues minorities deal with in the local business environment.

Black and latino employees are way more likely to leave a job. There is still a long way to go in terms of inclusion. If we can figure out how to build more inclusive communities where people feel like they belong, the city of Boston will be unstoppable.
— Yulkendy Valdez
 Larry Kim, Meredith McPherrom, Rich DiTieri, Yulkendy Valdez and Kelly O'Brien at Workbar Cambridge. Photo by Sooz.

Larry Kim, Meredith McPherrom, Rich DiTieri, Yulkendy Valdez and Kelly O'Brien at Workbar Cambridge. Photo by Sooz.

Founders and Joiners in the Innovation Scene  

Regarding the popularization of entrepreneurship among millenials, the panel drew on the importance of support networks and adjusting to fill a diversity of roles. For DiTieri, a problem facing the current innovation economy is that “everyone thinks they have to be a startup founder”.

While starting a company requires talent and dedication, a successful company needs the support from talented and devoted employees to grow. “A lot of people are not supposed to be founders, they are supposed to be ‘joiners’ and that’s okay,” DiTieri said.

 

Company Culture 101: Leading by Example

Founder Larry Kim, of MobileMonkey and WordSteam, spoke about small actions company CEOs and founders can take to create positive impact among their employees.

Being a startup founder is a lot like parenting. I try to lead by example - be the first there in the morning, leave later at night. You have to be really cognizant of how your actions influence the culture of the company.
— Larry Kim

When talking about talent keeping up with industry changes and adopting modern practices Kim referred to the importance of ‘learning by doing’.

“Everyone should have a side hustle, not for the money but for the continuing education. You’re not gonna outsource any of this, you’re gonna do it all yourself and you’re gonna learn,” Kim concluded. 

 

Workbar Speaker Series is a monthly event that connects local innovators and leaders in the Boston community and offers an interactive space for discussion, conversation and networking. With different topics and speakers each session, the event looks inspire attendees with insightful contributions and to create a positive footprint in the innovation scene. Join us on March 22 in Workbar Cambridge for the next edition "Breakout Discussions with Women in Business - Celebrating Women's Day".

News, FeaturedKarina Barriga