Governor Patrick Announces $1 Million Business Plan Competition to Draw Startups to Massachusetts

6/10/09Follow @wroush

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create the jobs but to create the conditions where [entrepreneurs] want to operate. Your job is to collaborate with us and with each other, both the veterans and the newcomers, the people with proven ideas and the people with just a glimmer in their imagination.”

In that spirit, the new competition is being designed to foster a culture of mentorship and collaboration between early-stage entrepreneurs and more established executives, entrepreneurs, and venture investors in the state, according to John Harthorne, the co-founder and CEO of MassChallenge. “There are two kinds of goals here,” says Harthorne. “We are focused on getting the ecosystem together for business creation and entrepreneurship. But let’s also create a culture of mentorship. We expect 3,000 entries, and if we seed 30 companies, that means 2,970 won’t get funded—but all of them will get access to team-building events, speaker events, and events designed to help them understand the Massachusetts business ecosystem better.”

Bialecki said Harthorne’s plan to line up advice and support for teams entering the MassChallenge competition—a feature adopted from competitions like the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition—appealed to him and to Governor Patrick when Harthorne’s group first approached the state government about participating less than a month ago. “We like very much the fact that it’s not just a competition with prizes but that it includes mentoring support, which we think is valuable not only for the participants in the competition but it will also more generally create a habit of networking and mentoring here,” Bialecki said. “One of the things we are hearing is that the networking and mentoring that happens in California does not seem to be so naturally happening here, and there is a role to foster that.”

MassChallenge hopes to raise a $25 million fund to support the competition on an ongoing basis. Harthorne, a recent MIT Sloan School MBA who founded the organization with former Bain consultant Akhil Nigam and former medical device entrepreneur David Constantine, says donors that sign up to match the state government’s stake with a contribution of at least $100,000 before July 15 will be recognized as founding sponsors of the competition.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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