Back in June, the local Boston tech community together celebrated the ten year anniversary of the Web Innovators Group, affectionately known as “WebInno.” Now Boston’s largest regular tech conference, every few months it draws hundreds of attendees from the entrepreneurial ecosystem – including founders, software engineers, startup executives, and investors. Each gathering showcases early stage startups in their infancy, not as a capital-raising pitch, but rather as a way to show off their product to peers for both exposure and feedback.
The origins of WebInno are humble. Originally, I had invited a dozen or so internet entrepreneurs to a Cambridge bar where we crammed into the back room wearing hand-drawn nametags. My intent wasn’t to create an organization, let alone an “institution,” but rather just react to the readily apparent desire for those in the local community to have a venue for connecting and sharing ideas. In the mid-2000’s, there weren’t a lot of options to do so, as the ecosystem vibe still hadn’t recovered from the dot-com bubble burst.
Fast-forward to today and the landscape is different. Accelerators, incubators, and co-working spaces have proliferated in Cambridge and Boston. Seed capital is more readily available, including of course through NextView Ventures. And the number of tech networking events available on any one given night is exciting (and tiring if you were to try to attend them all). Plus, tech has moved on from the Web 2.0 era to a mobile-first one, and soon beyond even that. The Web Innovators Group, with innovation in its namesake, should reflect this changing environment.
So today, I am pleased to announce that we’re changing the name of the Web Innovators Group to the Boston Innovators Group — or, as we’ll mainly refer to it, BIG.
Yes, WebInno is becoming BIG. In one sense, I felt it was important for the name to both move beyond a narrow view of “web” tech while also invoking something large or grand to match the end-goal of any audacious, innovative, entrepreneurial endeavor.
Moreover, I felt that a decade into this group, it was time turn the page to the next chapter. Soon we’ll begin to add new features to the gatherings’ format as well. But the continued goal is to highlight local tech entrepreneurs who are in the earliest stages of building something big, as well as for others in the Boston community to connect with each other and see product demos from startups which will be the next Dropbox, thredUP, reddit, or Localytics — all “alumni” startups from past events.
Nothing is more personally gratifying than hearing from attendees, “I met my co-founder at the event,” or, “I met my first investor there,” or, “I found a startup job there.” My personal aspiration is that I’ll continue to keep hearing these things from people who attend BIG events for hopefully another decade.
So I hope that you’ll join me for the first BIG event, which will be held on November 19 at District Hall. (After all, you wouldn’t want to miss something big.)
PS: Be sure to follow @BIGinnovators on Twitter. (If you already followed @webinno, no action needed.) Lastly, the new hashtag will be #BIG + the event number — so #BIG1 will be the hashtag for our Nov. 19 event. Hope to see you there!