TiE Boston gets its first woman president
Nilanjana Bhowmik is breaking another barrier: She’ll be the first woman and venture capitalist to serve as president of TiE Boston , a nonprofit dedicated to helping startups grow.
Bhowmik, who is a charter member of the organization and previously served on the board, begins a two-year term this month, succeeding entrepreneur Praveen Tailam.
Desh Deshpande, who founded Cascade Communications and Sycamore Networks, started the Boston chapter of TiE two decades ago to help connect entrepreneurs who emigrated from Southeast Asia.
Today, the group, which has hundreds of members in New England, consists primarily of tech entrepreneurs, as its overall mission has broadened.
“With my presidency, we want to send the message that TiE is growing and expanding in many ways. It’s an inclusive space,” Bhowmik said. “It may have been started by entrepreneurs from the Indus region. Today it’s an organization that is a Boston organization — our members and audience reflect the rich diversity fueling the next generation of startups in our city.”
Bhowmik wants to build on TiE’s signature programs and events, including its annual StartupCon conference, which brings together entrepreneurs and executives.
Her ultimate goal is to make sure Boston becomes a welcoming place for people to develop their companies.
“I see that Boston is undergoing a major revival.” she said. “Entrepreneurship is thriving all the way from Lowell to the Seaport. It’s a unique moment . . . TiE will work very hard and smartly to make sure the best companies get created in Boston and stay in Boston.”
Bhowmik herself has been a longtime tech investor and last year cofounded the venture capital firm Converge, with Maia Heymann.
TiE Boston is the second-oldest chapter of TiE, which has 12,000 members globally. Bhowmik estimates the Boston chapter has members who have contributed $15 billion to $20 billion in wealth creation.
Prominent TiE Boston members include Wayfair cofounder and CEO Niraj Shah , Care.com cofounder Zenobia Moochhala , and KaBloom CEO Amit Gupta.
Bursting at the seams
Standish Management has come a long way from its early days in 2009, when Susan Gillick moved to Massachusetts from California to open its Boston office.
The firm, which provides back-office services to venture capital and private equity fund managers, has 45 people in its local office, and 275 total in 14 US offices. The Boston location, in the Back Bay, is bursting at the seams. As a result, Standish is working to open another office in the Boston suburbs to accommodate some of the growth.
Gillick was just promoted to be the employee-owned firm’s president of US operations, making her one of the top-ranked women in a male-dominated industry, at least in Boston. Because of her promotion, Standish has decided to make Boston its US headquarters. The move frees up founder and CEO Robert Raynard to focus more on launching new services and expanding the firm internationally.
“Part of the reason we feel like Boston is the right place for us today . . . is mainly because of the talent pool,” Gillick says. “We’ve had the most success recruiting and retaining people in Boston than in any other locations. That one fact really drives the success of our entire firm.”
His biggest venture yet?
EverQuote cofounders Seth Birnbaum and Tomas Revesz have been here before. Cambridge-based EverQuote happens to be their third startup together, after NeoGenesis Pharmaceuticals (sold to Schering-Plough, now part of Merck & Co., in 2005) and the data security firm Digital Guardian (still privately held, based in Waltham).
EverQuote, an online insurance marketplace, is their first consumer-tech play and their first startup to go public. (One common thread among the three disparate firms: They all deal with solving big, potentially messy data problems.) Birnbaum says EverQuote has been the fastest-growing of the three. (Revenue last year: $126 million; employees: 230.) And Birnbaum remains hopeful it could become his biggest venture yet.
He says it’s the largest online marketplace for insurance in the United States, a website on which consumers can compare quotes from as many as 160 insurance carriers and 7,000-plus agents. “What EverQuote has done is we’ve homogenized the insurance landscape,” says Birnbaum, EverQuote’s chief executive.
EverQuote raised $84 million last week in an initial public offering. The event also raised its profile, important when chasing consumers’ dollars. “The IPO was a bit of a branding event,” Birnbaum says. “This was an opportunity for us to plant our flag.”
A band (of PR pros), together again
Andy Murphy’s new job has been more like a reunion. He just joined Three Rings Inc., a year-old Boston firm that handles public relations for high-tech companies, as agency principal. His two new business partners? Lisa Paglia and Doug Broad, former colleagues from Davies Murphy Group, once one of the Boston area’s largest PR agencies.
Lewis Global Communications acquired Davies Murphy in 2013, and Murphy stayed on with the bigger firm until 2016. During his break from the business, he underwent open heart surgery and dabbled in North Shore real estate. Finally, his noncompete agreement with Lewis expired last month — and it was time to get the band back together.
Of the 13 people at the firm, all but two worked with Murphy at his old business.
“With Lisa and Doug, I feel like we’ve all seen each other in stressful situations and happy situations, so I don’t think there will be any surprises,” Murphy says. “Because we’ve worked together for so long, we’ve already seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. . . . The fact that we know each other so well is really helpful.”
Managing public relations can be a frenetic experience. The name Three Rings is a nod to that juggling act. As Murphy puts it, “it’s the structure that brings order to a circus.”