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Apple, LinkedIn, Salesforce.com, and...Rapid7?

Posted by Scott Kirsner  January 5, 2010 09:25 AM

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Nearly 100 students from MIT's Sloan School of Management are bouncing around the Bay area this week, visiting companies like OpenTable, Digg, Kiva, and IDEO on their annual west coast "Tech Trek."

Over three days, they'll have a chance to drop in on about 60 companies, some public (Hewlett-Packard) and some not (Better Place, a start-up trying to build electric cars and an accompanying network of recharging stations.)

Then, next week, the school's Massachusetts Tech Trek happens. Fifteen students will visit five different companies. One of them, Microsoft, is publicly-traded. (It is headquartered in Washington, I might note.) The others include Kayak (a travel site you may have actually heard of), HubSpot, DemandWare, and Rapid7, a Boston-based "IT vulnerability management" company with about 100 employees.

Credit is due to the members of MIT Sloan's MediaTech Club for organizing a Massachusetts Tech Trek at all. (They also have local treks, similarly small, to biotech and energy companies.) Most business schools in the area focus exclusively on journeys out west -- and don't offer any opportunities at all to visit companies here. 

But seriously -- do we not have a broader range interesting and innovative companies here in Mass.? Shouldn't we be doing a little bit more to connect with the smart folks from around the world who come here to get educated? 

Or do you think MBA students simply have no interest in getting to know tech companies in Massachusetts, and all the glamour is in the Valley?

(As a side note, in 2009 I got tired of griping about the student/company disconnect here, and got involved with a volunteer group that is organizing a series of Innovation Open Houses to try to create more opportunities for students at any school to pop in and see what's happening at various local companies...) 

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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