Getting Down to Business in Massachusetts

Meet Carlos. He’s a 56 year-old Massachusetts resident who lives in Springfield, MA. His dream is to start his own microbrewery. Carlos has been excited about this project for years now and is finally making his dreams a reality. He has found a great location for a local taproom, has initial funding, and most importantly, has perfected his signature craft ale. In his mind, all he needs to do is fill out some paperwork and, he will be able to share his craft ale with others.

Meet Johanna. She’s 22 years old and has just graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. During her time at school Johanna partnered with a couple of friends to create an application that maps incidents in high-crime cities so citizens and tourists can make more informed decisions about their travel to and through neighborhoods. Johanna thinks this application has a lot of potential and can be successful in high-violence cities such as Caracas, Venezuela, San Salvador, El Salvador, as well as other Latin American cities. Her former professor and advisor lives in Worcester, MA, and Johanna could benefit from his proximity, so she is looking to headquarter her company in Massachusetts.

What Carlos and Johanna have in common is that they both, despite having great ideas, need help getting their business started. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts wants to provide the tools, services and expertise to help these entrepreneurs, and others like them. That is where our student team comes in.

Meet The Team

We are an interdisciplinary student team in the Harvard Kennedy School Technology & Innovation in Government field class taught by Adjunct Lecturer and former U.S. Deputy CTO Nick Sinai. Our team members are:

  • Artyom Anikyev, a dual Masters in Public Administration and Masters in Business Administration student from Russia who, as a former civil servant, has experience with the relationship between state and businesses.
  • Brian Etienne, a Canadian pursuing a joint Masters in Public Policy and Masters in Business Administration who has a background in management consulting and private equity and has advised businesses around the world on their growth plans and operations.
  • Julia Gutierrez, also a Masters in Public Policy student from Mexico/Texas who has worked with governments and for governments and has an understanding of how citizens choose to interact with their government.
  • Kate Welsh, a Masters in Business Administration student who has a background  in design thinking, a methodology that fosters innovation by understanding and integrating the needs of people.
  • Nisha Swarup, a Junior Computer Science major at Harvard college with amazing coding skills and expertise in agile methodologies.

The Challenge

Our job is to help the the Commonwealth become an even more helpful resource in launching new, exciting businesses.  For example, Carlos needs to register his brewery with the state as well as obtain all the required licenses to operate as a food establishment and liquor establishment. While Johanna needs to register with the Commonwealth, she’s also looking for seed capital and is interested in learning how the Commonwealth can help her start and eventually grow her business.

Our team is excited to work with members from two Commonwealth offices, MassIT Digital Services (MassIT) and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (HED).

Together, with our colleagues at the Commonwealth, we seek to answer the broad question, how might the Commonwealth better encourage and enable prospective entrepreneurs to start and grow a small business in Massachusetts?

Answering this question will be challenging. Carlos and Johanna represent two entrepreneurs in the Massachusetts ecosystem. Our initial hypothesis is that there is a wide range of entrepreneurs that can benefit from better interaction with the state.  Our goal is to understand the problems entrepreneurs have and, together with MassIT and HED, develop solutions that will encourage and enable different types of entrepreneurs to start and operate businesses in Massachusetts.

Next Steps

During the next couple of weeks our work will focus on mapping and understanding this ecosystem of small businesses by reaching out to entrepreneurs, interviewing them extensively, and learning about what they need and how can the state help them when it comes to starting and operating their businesses.

Follow our journey—we’ll update you soon!

Artyom, Brian, Julia, Kate, Nisha