Dear Boston…

Dear Boston,

The past 8 years have been the most invigorating and exciting of my life. You were my first city after escaping the suburbs of central Pennsylvania to attend Northeastern. We were together for the wild rides of the Red Sox playoff runs in 2003, 2004 and 2007 and all the other championships that have made this the city of champions that such a rabid sports town deserves.  Many of my favorite memories with friends involve Boston sports playoff games. You’ve also been a big part of my life’s ups and downs.  Nothing calms my mind better than a walk down Boylston Street on a busy day or a quiet night of reflection by the Christian Science Center reflecting pool.

When I walked onto Northeastern’s campus for the first time, I knew it was where I’d spend the next 5 years. After graduation, I still felt a strong connection as I excitedly got my start at E Ink.  Later, your startup community welcomed me thanks to the amazing DartBoston community and helped shape me into the person I am today: better, faster, smarter, stronger.

All of this is what makes what I’m about to say so hard.

From almost the beginning of my time here, I’ve known I wanted to be an entrepreneur more than anything else in the world; it was a presentation by one of your leaders, Russ Wilcox, when I was a freshman that convinced me of this path. It was later other entrepreneurs that helped me get my start and make me who I am today: from Tim Rowe and Scott Kirsner helping encourage me to start Greenhorn Connect to John Prendergast giving me my first job in the ecosystem as a customer development intern to Laura Fitton being the one person willing to give me a shot at a full time job. Countless others have helped along the way as I’ve needed advice, friendship and a helping hand.

I left oneforty in April 2011 to finally build the great company I’ve always dreamed of.  I wanted to take all the lessons I’ve learned and build the next great anchor company here. Unfortunately, despite trying many different ways to get a company started, nothing has worked.

While I struggled to find the cofounder for my dream company for a multitude of reasons, I was equally failing at finding the right startup idea. Many have told me it’s a spiritual quest; the right idea will grab you and you’ll just “know.”  I know they’re right. That’s how Greenhorn Connect happened, but it doesn’t make the pursuit any easier.

As I continued my quest, I felt I had to start expanding my efforts. That’s why in December, I took a trip to visit your brother out west, San Francisco.  I needed to spend some time away from you to gain perspective and see if the next step could actually be anywhere but here.

I thought I’d never take another job after oneforty. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and felt like my time was now. But after getting perspective out West and having the right person say, “why don’t you come work for me?” I realized I had the perfect opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

There are certain people in the startup world I’ve grown to admire greatly. They’re all on their way to, or already have built great companies. They’re thoughtful leaders with big visions. They understand the pay it forward mentality. And when one of them not only offers you the opportunity to join their team, but in an ideal role, where you get to work directly with them and the company is still at a small enough stage to your liking, you have a too-good-to-pass-on opportunity.

In this perfect storm, the leader is Hiten Shah, the company is KISSmetrics, and my role is Product Manager with the responsibilities to make them a great customer-focused, lean startup with a product their customers love.  I’m both punching above my weight class and bringing all of my skills to the table for this role. I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities and challenges ahead. At the same time, it hurts greatly to leave Boston to join this San Francisco-based company.

After all the memories, all the great friends inside and out of the startup community and all I’ve built here, I know it’s hard to believe I can pack my bags and leave, but I know this is the next step I must take.  It is far from easy, but a move that makes sense as I work to get closer to my dream of building an achor company.

Your first question is probably, “What happens to Greenhorn Connect?”  Do not worry. Greenhorn Connect is in *great* hands with Paul Hlatky and Pardees Safizadeh.  They are two of the best young people I’ve met in Boston and I’m honored they’ve accepted the ongoing challenge of keeping Greenhorn Connect serving the Boston startup community.  I’ve been working with Paul for months to prepare him to be my successor and I know that he is not only up to the task, but will take Greenhorn Connect to new heights.  He was the driving force behind the Boston Tech Talent Fair and the buses that brought students to #RubyRiot. This is just the beginning of what he can and will do.

While I’ll be handing the reigns to Paul and moving out West, know that Boston and my many friends, mentors and colleagues will not be forgotten. Technology is folding space and time which means that Twitter, Skype and the occasional flight will still keep us connected.  I care so much about our startup community and all the friendships I’ve made along the way, I can’t imagine just forgetting about it.  I’m still planning events in the community like RamenCamp in May and I wouldn’t miss the unConference for anything. I hope to be a bridge between my new home and those here in Boston.

This is the beginning of an exciting and scary new adventure for me and the Greenhorn Connect team. I hope I can count on your support as I set out on my new journey, and more importantly, that you’ll help Paul and Pardees succeed in having Greenhorn Connect continue to support the Boston startup ecosystem.

Thanks,
Jason

51 thoughts on “Dear Boston…

  1. Best of luck Jason, they’re lucky to have you and the impact you’ve made on this town is legendary! Maybe now we can build a better bridge between East v West?

    • Punit,

      Cheers to a fellow Husky! Always rooting for Team Zazu! I still remember you guys dancing to Miley Cyrus at the Startup Weekend back when none of us really knew what we were up against in the world of startups.

      I absolutely hope to build a bridge between East and West coasts.

      I will be back about once a quarter, I hope. At the least I guarantee I’ll be back for RamenCamp and the unConference.

      -Jason

  2. @Evanish,

    Anyone who lived through the Sox heartbreak that was ’03, and the rebound that was ’04, knows they have Boston in their heart for life (and as a home, even if away from home.) The city & ecosystem will miss you for sure, but you leave it better than you found it, which is the ultimate #payitforward.

    As for your personal decision, you’ve had an opportunity to work with some fine folks in your time here to be sure, but you’re also going to an amazing company led by 1st class people. The chance to join a world class team doesn’t come around every day. Your “founders quest” won’t end with this stop, you’ve got plenty of time left to leave your mark on the world at large. Take the leap, and enjoy the ride… Just don’t be a stranger.

    Best of luck… I suspect if you focus on doing what you do, you won’t need it.

    Take care,
    -H

    • Thanks, Howard. I wish I had a chance to get to know you better before I left.

      I may or may not have been part of about 200 NU students that ran onto Fenway’s field after we came back to beat Oakland in the divisional round in 03 (yes the game was in Oakland but we might have ended up on Fenway’s field anyways ;) ). I will *never* forget those days. The superstition, the tension, and the failed tests in 2004 because all the extra innings games meant I started homework at 3am…

      You can take me out of Boston but you’ll never take the Boston out of me.

      -Jason

  3. Sad to see you go Jason. I haven’t known you that long but just want to say thanks for all you’ve done. I appreciate what you’ve built with Greenhorn to help new entrepreneurs like me have a grounding element in the Boston startup scene.

    Go crush it!

    • Thanks Vijay. I love your passion for My Reci. Combine that with some good lean startup methodology and you’ll build something awesome.

      I’m so excited to see what Paul’s fresh eyes on Greenhorn Connect will do to take it to another level. It will not just continue to serve new/young entrepreneurs, but do great things.

      • Thanks Jason for the reply. I’m still learning a lot about lean startup and how we can apply it to MyReci, especially the measure/learn piece. A lot of what we’re trying to figure out is what to measure and how to accurately measure it. All in good time though =)

        I’ll be out in SF in late march and will definitely ping you when I’m in town

  4. Your energy, generosity, and commitment to the local startup ecosystem will be sorely missed. Boston’s loss is Silicon Valley’s gain. Good luck Jason! :-)

    • Thanks, Dmitri. I’m excited to see what you do at the MIT Media Lab; such incredible work being done there. Nothing like it anywhere else.

      I hope that things like RubyRiot will continue to infect people with the #PayItForward mentality that I’ve always tried to embrace.

  5. Jason, thank you for EVERYTHING you’ve done for the Boston community and making it a much easier place for those like me to get going.

    Ever since we met at that first Web Inno we both went to I knew you’d do something special. Greenhorn certainly has been, and I know you’re going to make Kiss and Hiten damn happy.

    Huge congrats to you.

    - Jeremy

    • Thanks man. I wish this journey made sense, but like Jobs says “you can only connect the dots looking backwards.”

      It’s crazy to look back 2+ years ago and think about what all of us from Classic DartBoston were doing and where we all are now…and how far Boston has come. It’s hard to leave when it feels like it’s only 11pm at the Startup Party here in Boston…

      As I’ve learned the hard way, you can’t fake passion. You’ve got what at least I’ve found to be the harder ingredient. Keep learning and I know you’ll do big things.

  6. So excited for you but selfishly bummed at the same time. We all have a lot to thank you for. There have been countless times people reference Greenhorn as their “gateway drug” to the startup community in Boston.

    Sad to see you go, but confident Paul and Pardees will take it to new heights.

    • Ben,

      It was great to get to know you and I’m excited for what’s next for GetPrivvy!

      It’s cool to hear we’re the “gateway drug” since we all know once you get into startups, you’re hooked :)

      I can’t wait to see what Paul and Pardees are able to do to make an even more potent version ;)

      Thanks,
      Jason

    • Thanks Aaron and same to you in your new adventure in North Carolina!

      I think the greater challenge is making sure it’s not just a blip on the radar; I’m honored and excited that Paul is now taking up the mantle. If I’ve done it right, people will say “Jason who?” in a few months…

    • David,

      Thanks for the vote of confidence!

      I still remember seeing you at the Binno party the day the acquisition went through at Where. You had a special smile that I think any entrepreneur would understand but few actually taste; when the struggles, the late nights, the uncertainty and success teases all come together to actually lead to that result we all dream of for our ventures. I hope to have that smile one day…

      I’m glad to have gotten to know you and so glad you and the other leaders at Where have become great Angels in town. It’s the kind of leadership by example we can never have too much in town.

      Thank you.

      -Jason

  7. Jason,

    Congrats on the new gig and here’s to a new adventure! I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for the Boston startup community and for my personal transition in moving back to Boston. I hope to return the favor as you head out there. Keep in touch!

    Elizabeth

    • Elizabeth,

      It was my pleasure to help! I appreciate the help as I make the leap across coasts!

      Hope you can make it to one last poker game before I head out West…

      Thanks,
      Jason

  8. Jason, congrats, still can’t believe you’re leaving. Greenhorn was one of my first guiding lights here in Boston. You rocked this town, you’re going to rock at KISSmetrics and beyond. Thank you and Good Luck!

  9. Jason,

    Big congrats, but sorry to see you go. You’ve made the startup scene in Boston a better place. I’ll try to make the farewell party.

    Stay in touch!

    Ben

  10. Well, shit. This sucks and rocks all at once. Jason: obviously you’ll be missed and hopefully you’ll keep calling out the bullshit as you see it, even from afar. And warn them that Boston’s coming on hard. Paul: you’ve got some big shoes to fill but we’re glad Jason picked you to fill ‘em. Pardees & Seth: big shout-out to you both: RESPECT.

    • Alain,

      Thanks. I think there will be others to fill the “Boston Startup Curmudgeon” role, but I may share my thoughts from time to time in the hopes of making things better.

      I hope you bring back that great startup running event when Boston’s spring rolls around.

      Thanks!
      -Jason

  11. Hi Jason -

    Although we didn’t spend much time together, I completely enjoyed working with you. Unfortunately, Boston’s loss is SF’s gain.

    Warm wishes,

    Marc Gedansky

  12. Jason, enjoyed having you here in the Boston Startup community and watching you launch one good idea after another. You will be missed, but I’m sure San Francisco awaits with open arms and your chance to discover that future anchor is waiting out there as well.
    Travel Safe.

    Best of continued success – and look up Wade Roush when you get there.

  13. Jason – sad to hear this, but understand. Kissmetrics is awesome – their content, blog infographics and simple value proposition drive their business. You’ll make an awesome product manager – as you have a great ability to listen to what is happening in the community and synthesize that into posts and features on Greenhorn Connect and beyond. Plus you have the essential ingredients to be a successful PM – passion and leadership skills. Best of luck to you!

    • Thanks, Will. I appreciate the kind words.

      It’s a tall task to take on the challenge of joining a phenomenal team like KISSmetrics, but I can’t wait to start learning from everyone.

  14. Thanks for the big contribution to the Boston community, Jason, in energy, actions, and enthusiasm. I’m sure you’ll thrive in San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

    And a note: I hadn’t taken to the time to read the quote at the top of your blog. It’s a perfect fit in every way. And another reason why you’ll have fun at work + play in San Francisco.

    • Lee,

      Thanks! That quote reminded me that if you love what you’re doing it doesn’t matter if others think you’re crazy.

      I’ll miss Boston a ton but I can’t wait to start this new journey and take on new challenges.

      Thanks!
      -Jason

    • Nick,

      Not sure what state you guys are in now post BetaSpring but definitely rooting for you guys at Awesome Inc no matter where you’re at :)

      -Jason

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  16. wow congrats- sorry I am late to the info but def enjoy your work at Greenhorn and your tweets though I’m sure you’ll still be tweeting after your move. Maybe I’ll run into you out there

  17. Congrats Jason, you have shown everyone here in Boston that if you truly want something and you pursuit it with passion your call will one day be answer. I would love to come visit in San Fran. Can’t wait to hear your updates once you reach your destination. Keep up the great work, see you in the future. Thank you for all your help you have provided everyone with.

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