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Trish Costello Addresses Wellesley Business Owners


In the dining room of Reynolds Campus Center approximately 30 members of the Wellesley Chamber of Commerce gathered over breakfast for the last of this year's Babson College/Wellesley Bank Business Series.

Today they heard the director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, Trish Costello; offer some compelling soon-to-be-released research on start-ups in Massachusetts.

She explained that in her earlier years doing research in entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, the name Babson kept appearing, but she knew little of this Boston- area business school. Before long, Babson College became known to Costello as the “mother ship” of entrepreneurial teaching and practice worldwide. She followed the trail!

According to Costello, there's good news even with bad economic news. Results from research on Massachusetts' businesses show:

  • Massachusetts ranks #1 in the country for new economy business
  • Mass businesses are services and consumer oriented
  • More green tech & energy tech businesses are being funded by venture capital than life sciences
  • Green sustainable initiatives are opportunities for the future
  • Mass. is tech transfer engine – Boston is hub with its universities and research institutes
  • We need to do a better job keeping students who are learning new tech here
  • Young Mass. entrepreneurs are committed to social causes; they don't wait until they've made a success of the company.  Giving back is integrated from the start
  • Mass. startups are twice the level of the US average
  • College-educated entrepreneurs tend to have more sustainable businesses
  • Average age of entrepreneurs in Massachusetts is 50 years!
  • Innovation is higher with new startups even with 50-year-olds, than with experienced entrepreneurs

       –More experienced; have had a longer
       time for productivity     

       –Understand risks

       –Have good established networks (for
       advice, VC, etc.)

       –Are needed as mentors/advisors

Many Massachusetts entrepreneurs are women starting businesses after raising families; they tend to:

  •     grow more slowly, but are 2x more
        like to succeed
  •     be less likely to ask
        family/friends to invest in them
  •     better at paying back bank loans

    During an interactive and lively conversation, Costello emphasized the importance of knowledge transfer as 'boomers' move toward retirement. She encouraged her audience to be receptive to mentoring and advising replacements (“prime our pipeline”), to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs and to transfer this generation's business knowledge.

“We must think through the knowledge transfer ahead of time and plan accordingly…even in family businesses,” she said. “You can be looking for partners now – be a mentor; partner with people who share a global business perspective.”

According to Costello, in Massachusetts we need more “bridge” businesses to “prime the pipeline.” She suggests advising your potential replacement should be a noble goal.