Blank Center Sponsor Profile: Pierce Atwood LLP
Jack Steele is a Partner of Pierce Atwood’s Business Law Practice Group and has specialized in helping startups and entrepreneurs through the firm’s Catalyst Program. Pierce Atwood has been a sponsor of the Blank Center since 2014 and is a great resource for Babson entrepreneurs!
What is the history of Pierce Atwood?
Pierce Atwood began as a two-person law firm in Maine in 1891. We now have offices in Portland, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Providence, Rhode Island; Washington, D.C.; Augusta, Maine; and Stockholm, Sweden. The firm is loyal to its Maine roots and we’ve long had a substantial energy practice. Our office in D.C. works with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). An interesting fact is that our firm has been involved for years with a number of substantial projects in Central Europe and the Balkans related to areas of development work to help these countries set up energy infrastructure.
How did Pierce Atwood get involved with helping startups?
Our firm began in Maine, where there are many smaller businesses. Historically, helping people start businesses has always been a portion of the practice. We have a Catalyst Program for Startups, which we talk about at Babson. We have the largest practice focusing on startups in northern New England! As Pierce Atwood expanded to other cities, including Boston, it picked up employees who had historically worked with startups in the Boston market. A large part of my practice has involved helping startups, particularly technology companies.
I also have personal connections to Babson. Both of my brothers received their undergraduate degrees from Babson and one went on to earn his MBA here. My sport is soccer, and Babson has often been a national power in men’s soccer. When I was younger, a lot of the people from my town went to Babson to play soccer!
What is your role at Pierce Atwood?
I am a partner in our Business Law Practice Group, and a substantial part of my practice is working with startups. I have been in charge of our firm’s relationship with the Blank Center since we became involved with Babson.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is the mindset of innovation and risk-taking to create value.
What does the world need from entrepreneurs today?
A fundamental sense of optimism. You have to be willing to take risks. In order to do that, you have to feel the possibility that you can do something great and make the world a better place. It’s a good way to live your life!
From your work with startups, have you discovered any trends in entrepreneurship that you find exciting?
Entrepreneurship has undoubtedly moved into the mainstream. When my brothers went to Babson, the majority of college graduates wanted to work for big corporations or banks. Today, an increasing number of people coming out of college want to follow their own path. There are so many advantages to taking the entrepreneurship route today, especially as resources like the Blank Center and the entrepreneurship community in Boston have continued to improve. Now that we have the technology to allow entrepreneurs to reach a worldwide audience, it feels like the “golden age” of startups. Babson is well-situated as a leader in the field.
Any tips for entrepreneurs looking to move their startups forward?
As much as technology has improved, you still have to focus on the human element of business. This applies to each step of the startup process, such as thinking about your product, choosing co-founders, and how you will sell to customers. It’s more obvious that service companies have to adhere to the human element, but even product-based companies cannot lose sight of this. Companies go downhill when they lose focus on the basics.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a sponsor of the Blank Center?
Working with the Blank Center allows me to share information that might help people in a way that promotes the public good. It feels like the right thing to do, and it’s easy and efficient. The world would be better if we could all help each other this much.
About Pierce Atwood LLP
At Pierce Atwood LLP, we help entrepreneurs and start-ups as they grow into profitable businesses. Our Catalyst Program is designed to get an idea off the ground, protect intellectual property, access funding, and address basic legal requirements. We welcome clients with creative ideas and disruptive new technologies, and tailor our legal services to their specific needs, and offer flexible fee arrangements. Our Catalyst attorneys are experienced business advisers who know the challenges and triumphs that lie ahead and help clients prepare for them. You have a passion for what you do. So do we.