TWICE A YEAR, KATIE RAE BOUNDS ONTO A STAGE in Boston to the strains of the Dropkick Murphys playing the foot stomper “Shipping Up to Boston.” Rae emcees a “Demo Day” event that features entrepreneurs graduating from the program she runs, TechStars Boston, and the audience is full of investors getting a first look at a dozen new business ideas. At the most recent Demo Day, in November, entrepreneurs pitched start-ups that do everything from help couples get pregnant faster to help charities wring more revenue from donated clothing; investors have committed to writing checks for $6 million and counting for the companies.
In the two years since she took over the TechStars program, the 44-year-old Rae has become the high-profile ringmaster of Boston’s start-up circus. “Katie just has this magical ability to pull people together,” says Gus Weber, a colleague of Rae’s when she worked at Microsoft’s New England Research & Development Center. “And people will do anything for her.”