December Entrepreneur Spotlight

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For the month of December, we chose an extremely local entrepreneur, Tim Rowe. Tim is the founder of Venture Cafe and the CEO of the Cambridge Innovation Center (home of the YC Mini-Hack series). Tim’s career as an entrepreneur started when he was in middle school, selling software and computers to the parents of his friends. A few years later in high school, he was employing six of his friends at his Tech Consulting firm, with his biggest customer being the original Empire Collateral pawn shop. Next, Tim went to college to (in his words) “not miss out on the opportunity of being a rounded person.” As an already successful businessman, Tim found that college is most rewarding when your goal is to learn who you are and to learn…
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November Entrepreneur Spotlight

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This month’s spotlight features Joshua Summers, a Boston entrepreneur that works in the ad-tech industry. Joshua was a Paypal executive in Boston before leaving at the end of 2012 to found Clypd, where he is currently CEO. Clypd is a company that is trying to bring advertising in TV into the forefront of technology; using easy-to-access data such as demographics and major purchases, Joshua and Clypd hope to target advertising with both cable and satellite providers. This will create a better experience for the viewer and more effective advertising for the companies that are paying to be on air (very similar to what Google and Facebook are doing with user generated data driving online advertising). After a Series-A funding round in early 2013 that went well into seven figures, the…
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October Entrepreneur Spotlight

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This spotlight will be on one of YC’s most notable alumni, Toni Aloko. Toni is a young entrepreneur that has taken his love for tennis and turned it into a business. Practicegigs.com is a platform that athletes can use to set up either friendly or competitive matches with people of different skill caliber. How did he get it started? Through Youth CITIES. Practicegigs began in the annual March to May incubator. The network, mentorship, and resources that were made available to him have landed him in Atlas Ventures, where he now is the head of a five person team coming from three countries and four universities. With his product launch ten weeks away, Wharton is going to have to wait another year for this one.
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March-to-May Bootcamp 2013 Finals

March-to-May Bootcamp 2013 Finals

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Congratulations to the Youth CITIES March-to-May Bootcamp Class of 2013!! The March-to-May Bootcamp is Youth CITIES' flagship program and designed for middle school and high school students from diverse backgrounds. The students work with real-world executives to brainstorm different ideas to start a venture with social impact for their community. Youth CITIES partners with prominent executives from the business and nonprofit communities who teach fundamentals of leadership, entrepreneurship, presentation skills, and business plan creation. These professionals also share strategies for leveraging business principles to drive change in society. The rigorous 10-week bootcamp inspires, educates, and equips youth to take action and make a difference. Youth CITIES moves beyond the academics of business, to framing real-life problems, real-life constraints, and real-life success criteria as the launch pad for students to create…
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Nemo Knocks

Nemo Knocks

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Last weekend, winter storm Nemo dumped more than 2 feet of snow on most of New England. In some places, high winds led to drifts piling 5 feet or higher. We all saw the fresh white landscape. We all dealt with the snow. Some of us are still dealing with it. What does any of it have to do with Youth CITIES? On Saturday morning, while I was shoveling out my car (see pic;-), I was telling my wife about the snow storms I experienced growing up in the ‘90s. (My wife is from Jamaica; and, although, she’s lived in the US for 8 years, this was her first official blizzard.) I recounted stories of my two younger brothers and I traversing the neighborhood like it was a frozen tundra…
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TUGG Event On January 31st

TUGG Event On January 31st

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Last September, Youth CITIES participated in an open-source philanthropy event sponsored by TUGG (Technology Underwriting the Greater Good). For the event, our Founder, Vicky, spent the evening networking with hundreds of Greater Boston's entrepreneurs and technology professionals to tell them the story of Youth CITIES. Then, at the end of the night, attendees had to choose from among a handful of worthy social-enterprise ventures (like Youth CITIES) and vote for which organization would receive some grant funding. Youth CITIES is a great program, obviously, and Vicky did a terrific job of sharing her vision with everyone she met that night, including me. From that event, Youth CITIES won a small but valuable grant from TUGG, and the funds are committed to this year's March-to-May Bootcamp. Coming up, on January 31st,…
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Entrepreneurship & Sustainability in the Christmas Tree Industry

Entrepreneurship & Sustainability in the Christmas Tree Industry

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Eliminate Waste - that is one of the key objectives associated with current sustainability thinking and teaching. Some organizations, like Terracycle, strive so far as to eliminate the idea of waste. Yet, whether in practice or in principle, the goal is to examine existing waste streams (outputs) and find ways to make them inputs into some other useful process. It may sound easy, but it’s not, which is why we do not yet have ways to reuse and recycle everything we throw away today. This week’s post was inspired by the reality TV show Shark Tank (Episode 409). [As a general rule, I dislike reality TV. But, I make an exception for Shark Tank simply because I love to hear the creative business ideas of regular Americans. I find many…
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Musings of my Kickstarter Experience

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There are probably a million things I’d do differently if I was to do a Kickstarter campaign again.  I will focus on 5 over the next week or so, and then I will conclude with how this experience has been very beneficial. Musing #1:  Pre-marketing is very important.  With the right people. A friend of mine mentioned that he had hired a PR person well-before he was launching his Kickstarter campaign to create buzz.  I totally understood the reasoning behind it, but he had a company that he wanted to launch a new product using Kickstarter to raise the funds.  I, on the other hand, was teaming up with 2 other partners in crime to do a project....so there was no budget.  Hiring a PR person was not an option,…
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Greater Boston Meets TED

Greater Boston Meets TED

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No, I don’t mean Mark Wahlberg’s talking teddy bear. (Though, we could make this a topic for a future blog post;-) This is a long awaited post for me. Two weeks ago, on November 17th & 18th, I attended a series of locally organized TED Talks. TEDxBeaconStreet featured more than 90 talks by innovators, teachers, scientists, businesspeople, thought-leaders, and others tied to Greater Boston. [I was holding off the blog entry until I could share this highlight reel with you.] At the two-day conference, I got a chance to listen to intriguing and inspiring presentations on topics ranging from music & food to science & technology, including one talk about flexible computer chips you can wear on your skin!! Of course, a favorite talk of mine was by given by…
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The Teacher Becomes the Student

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You know how, in certain subjects, it’s really cool to have a teacher who’s also a practitioner?  Well, even though I started Youth CITIES 4 years ago after having run the same company I founded over a decade ago, I am back in the trenches.  Practicing what I often talk about in the Youth CITIES classes, I’ve combined my experience/background in the videogame industry with my personal interest in raising my young kids to be bilingual. Being a practitioner puts me back in the hot seat, just like all of you who’ve been through the Youth CITIES March-to-May bootcamp.  I may have found a valid pain point and what my value proposition is, but I’ve been re-working and refining my elevator pitch over and over again.  (It is always much…
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