With a three-month visa in hand, Hardi Meybaum came to the United States from Estonia in late 2010 to consider where to set up a new front office for his startup. Meybaum spent half the time in Boston, and half in San Francisco. He found advisors here, and later investors, who understood his vision of creating an online community for mechanical engineers who design new products.
And, Meybaum adds, “part of our engineering team is in Estonia, and on the east coast, you can make the time difference work more easily.” His startup, GrabCAD, is now headquartered in East Cambridge.
Like a left-behind lover, I sometimes get a little obsessed with the entrepreneurs who start their companies in Boston but then pack their bags for California. (Zuck, why’d you have to leave?) But I also regularly hear about founders like Meybaum moving here to give their ideas a better shot at success.
Boston does exert an entrepreneurial pull that can be felt in Estonia, Israel, Kentucky, and Idaho. Instead of conducting exit interviews with those who left, I surveyed more than 20 company founders — and the worker bees who help companies grow — to ask why they came....
I wanted to share some bonus material here...e-mails from several of the people who shared their perspectives with me as I was working on the column. They founded or work at places like Wayfair, PayPal Boston, Wayfair, and Atlas Venture.
We also discussed this theme on September 7th on the WBUR show Radio Boston, with Nick Francis of Help Scout. You can listen here.
- • Jason Ethier, founder of Dynamo Micropower
• Wayfair co-founders Steve Conine and Niraj Shah
• Nick Ducoff, VP of content, Boundless Learning
• Noah Heller, entrepreneur-in-residence at Atlas Venture
• PieceWise CEO William Neely
• Freelance game developer Zoe Quinn of Dames Making Games
• Frederic Gay, CEO of Kendall Square Media
• Help Scout CEO Nick Francis
• Neighbor Power CEO Paul Harkins
• PayPal Boston senior manager Masumi Nakamura
Are you someone who came to Boston to start a company, or take a job? What brought you here? Post a comment if you would...
About Scott Kirsner
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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More from Scott
December 9: Web Innovators Group
Demos of new mobile apps and web ventures at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. Free admission; cash bar.
December 10: Fintech Demo Day
Short demos from startups in the financial technology realm.
December 11: Unpitch
Entrepreneurs and investors sit down for lunch, advice, and feedback. Entrepreneurs must apply to participate.