Come January 1st, I will be moving on from MassChallenge to start my own organization. It’s sort of crazy to say that, but the way that things have been working out in life lately has been just amazing. I’ve realized that there is really one common denominator in all of these recent occurrences – being surrounded by the right people.
Nearly every book that you read about how to succeed in business will say in one form or another that the critical component to success is building meaningful relationships with the right people. If I could track down my success over the past couple of years it all routes to knowing the right people and ceasing opportunity.
Last year I saw an advertisement for the Northeastern Husky Startup Challenge business plan competition and I decide to enter. Through that interaction I met Greg Skloot, then the director of the program and now the club president. Greg introduced me to Aaron Gerry the prior club president who I am now working with on my next venture with Startup America. Aaron made one of the most valuable introductions for me which truly shaped my life – Aaron introduced me to Scott Bailey who was an associate at MassChallenge and first got me an internship there later hiring me as a full-time employee. Through Scott and John and others at MassChallenge I have met some of the most impressive people in the Boston entrepreneurial world which have enabled outstanding opportunities for me.
One of the opportunities I had last week was to travel to Washington DC and attend the Startup America Partnership board meeting at the White House. Who would have thought that I would be at the White House surrounded by people like Reid Hoffman founder LinkedIn, Kevin Plank founder of Under Armor, Steve Case founder of AOL and more. It was an outstanding opportunity to interact with these incredibly successful people and share our passions for entrepreneurship.
Back to my original point, though, is that it really roots to the relationships I’ve made that have enabled these opportunities. By building a relationship with Scott I gained his trust to offer me a job with MassChallenge. Through that job I was able to form a relationship with John Harthorne, founder and CEO of MassChallenge, who then gave me the opportunity to get involved with Startup America which led to my trip to Washington.
So I said I’m working on a new venture, but what’s it all about and how have these people enabled this to happen? Well the program is tentatively called Startup America Summer and it’s going to be an internship program to bring students from around the country into Boston to work for two months as interns at some of the highest-growth startups in the world. It’s an amazing idea and when first proposed a couple months back by the Startup Massachusetts steering committee I was jumping out of my skin to be part of building the program. I never would have though a year ago that I would have this opportunity but when I proposed becoming the “director” of the program, the steering committee supported me and has given me the chance to make this a reality. Now the nicest part of all of this is that while I’m going to found this program and build it from the ground up, I am doing it while surrounded with some of the most intelligent and impressive people I could have ever imagined to work along-side.
It’s funny how everything in life works together but surrounding yourself with the right people and ceasing opportunity truly enables remarkable things to happen.