10 things we learned since we first launched HUBweek

Hi there–it’s Liz. I’m the director of marketing over here at HUBweek.

It’s been 2 years since we first began this experiment called HUBweek, a coming together of some of the most creative and inventive people in Boston and around the world. We’ve had our fair share of both successes and failures, and along the way, we’ve learned a whole lot. We thought we’d use today to share some of those lessons learned in hopes that one or some are of value to you. Here we go…

1. Connections are everything.

One of the most magical parts of working at HUBweek has been bearing witness to what happens when you bring people together. Ideas spark. Partnerships form. A new mentor helps a mentee land that meeting with that VC. What we’ve learned: content matters, sharing matters, but at the end of the day, it’s the people that are part of this that make it all worth it.

2. Collaboration ain’t easy, but it’s worth it.

HUBweek is collaborative to its core. Everything we build is done together with our 4 founding partners and our 130+ collaborating organizations. When you do the math, that’s a lot of people and companies to bring together to produce one festival. It’s not always easy or efficient or totally sane, but by rallying around a shared mission and celebrating each other’s strengths, you can pull off something pretty spectacular that likely wouldn’t have been possible alone.

3. Our audience is united by a shared mindset.

We’ve done a lot of analysis over the last 2 years. Who is our audience? Where are they from? How old are they, what industry do they represent? What we’ve found: all of it. (Which, by the way, is the worst answer for a marketer to have.) But, I argue, the thing that makes this community so special is that while we may do different jobs, live in different places, come from different backgrounds, everyone shares a mindset. An insatiable curiosity, a willingness to experiment and try new things, a belief that we can build a better future, if we do it together.

4. Beer can teach you things.

As you may know, last year, we collaborated with Desalitech and 6 local breweries to brew a bunch of beer from the Charles River. The beer was delicious, but the mission behind it was even more important: promoting water efficiency and reimagining the future of water. Our takeaway: doing something a little fun and unexpected can bring worthy attention to a cause that matters.

5. Innovation is happening in all corners of Boston, and in all corners of the world.

Good ideas truly can come from anywhere. From the halls of our greatest institutions to the innovation hubs in Roxbury and the Seaport. From the lifelong innovators in our biggest companies to the at-home dreamers and aspiring entrepreneurs across the globe. We came together to throw the doors open on innovation in Boston and it continues to creep out of every corner. Don’t be afraid to look for an idea somewhere new.

6. People here care.

As Uncle Ben said, “with great power comes great responsibility,” and the people here don’t shy away from the challenge. Though not always obvious, there is a very real sense of responsibility to ensure that the innovations happening in Boston will have a positive impact on our collective future. That everyone has a seat at the table. That we focus on solving the hard stuff. We have a long way to go, but we have seen a consciousness here and a relentless desire to do better.

7. Silos are real, but they’re breaking down.

Boston is, famously, a city of neighborhoods–and industries, schools, clusters. We have shared values, a sense of mission and purpose, but it can be hard to get out of our own bubble. With HUBweek, we’ve been able to reach a lot of people with events where they live, work, play. But the real magic has happened when we’ve come together, across silos. We’ve seen an openness to learn from one another, to try something new and step out of one’s comfort zone, artists & scientists & technologists & policy makers having engaged and open dialogues. The future is being built at these intersections.

8. Weather in October is unpredictable.

Shout-out to HUBweek year zero (as we fondly called it) when a hurricane heading our way forced some tough decisions on the team. We had rain plans, but as we (now) joke, no extreme weather plans. Sometimes you get dealt a bad hand and you need to make some quick, hard decisions. Lesson: Be prepared for the unexpected.

9. The work that is happening here has global impact and reach.

Boston has been a city of immigrants since its founding. As President Obama once said, “Every fall, you welcome students from all across America and all across the globe, and every spring you graduate them back into the world — a Boston diaspora that excels in every field of human endeavor.” The work that is done here is not limited by geographical bounds, and the ideas formed are shared around the globe. We are a much more diverse, vibrant, and welcoming community than we give ourselves credit for.

10. This place is unique.

Last year, we landed the top spot as the #1 city in the nation for fostering entrepreneurial growth and innovation. A big contributing factor to this recognition was the collaboration and connectivity of the ecosystem here. We’ve been fortunate enough to witness this day-in and day-out. The willingness to work together, the passion around celebrating one another’s collective successes, the hope and doggedness around building a better future. We hope you join us.

Have any questions on any of the above? We’d love to hear from you. Shoot us a line here.

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