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MIT Educator Seeks Stars For Local Entrepreneurs

Bill Aulet heads MIT's Entrepreneurship Center. He's proposing an Entrepreneurial Walk of Fame -- similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame -- be built at Kendall Square in Cambridge. (Kirk Carapezza for WBUR)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Seeking to emulate Hollywood’s starry Walk of Fame, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology educator has a proposal to honor successful local “geeks” and “suits.”

The Entrepreneurial Walk of Fame is an idea from Bill Aulet, a senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and the managing director of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center. The Cambridge City Council is now weighing the proposal.

“We need to celebrate entrepreneurship,” Aulet said on a recent walk through Kendall Square. “We retire uniforms for the Boston Celtics. I think we should be retiring Mitch Kapor’s number here, because Mitch Kapor was a great entrepreneur who started Lotus Development Co., which revitalized this entire area and has created millions of jobs and hope and spirit for a lot of other entrepreneurs.”

(Photo illustration by Jesse Costa/WBUR)

No set criteria for a star has been established, but Aulet says the walk of fame should recognize a local who has started a substantial company — or, perhaps preferably, more than one — and is a role model for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs.

In addition to honoring past entrepreneurs, Aulet believes the walk would encourage future ventures.

“This is what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’re trying to promote the culture of entrepreneurship. And culture is about beliefs, but it’s about stories, it’s about role models you have. And we need to promote these people, and when we do, then people will want to become entrepreneurs.”

Though the proposed stars wouldn’t be confined to MIT entrepreneurs, Aulet says the school’s academic focus would make Kendall Square the perfect location for the walk of fame.

“You have the premier engineering school in the world right over here, which is where the technologists (are), or the ‘geeks,’ as we like to call them from an honorific stand point,” he said. “And then you have over here the MIT Sloan School of Management, which is one of the top business schools in the world — they’re the ‘suits,’ they’re the business people. And when these people come together they tend to create great companies.”

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  • Donna Doody

    I would like to nominate Gardner Hendrie to the walk of stars. He is a graduate of Harvard University, co-founder of Stratus Computer, venture capitalist, Boston arts philanthropist, on board of and large contributor to the Computer Museum in Sunnyvale, CA.

  • Grace A

    I think that Edwin H Land, who started the Polaroid Company, should definitely have star.

  • bender rodriguez

    A great candidate is Helen Greiner, co-founder of i-robot and who recently started CyPhy Works.

  • http://www.buddhaspillow.blogspot.com Paul Creeden

    I giggle. Entrepreneurs as cultural icons, memorialized in cement, in Cambridge, once a bastion of Leftist culture in Greater Boston, during an economic depression. Will each marker post the net personal earnings of each of these successful icons? Will tax inducements and government subsidies for their enterprises be detailed? Perhaps a business of making and planting these markers everywhere for other groups will flourish. A star walk for plumbers, electricians, bricklayers? Star handicap ramps for doctors, nurses and physical therapists? Let’s just sell all the city sidewalks for star walks to publicists. Then the entrepreneurs can pay less taxes than they do now.

  • Hank Hamilton

    I think this is a great idea. Society should know more than they do about people such as entrepreneurs who make a big difference in the world. It makes sense to locate this near MIT, but the criteria should be rather geographically and historically broad. I would include entrepreneurs who located anywhere in New England and the time line should start with the 1700s and extend to the present. That would make the entrepreneurs’ walk of fame much longer and more interesting.

    As for nominees, Ken Olsen, who founded Digital Equipment Corporation, and Henry Kloss, who founded many audio companies, comes to mind. Kloss started Acoustic Research, Advent, KLH, Kloss Video, and Cambridge Soundworks.

  • Tony D

    I think it would be way more interesting to have a “technology walk of fame” where the outstanding inventions (IP) out Cambridge are showcased. And instead of names being printed on a star emblem, it could be printed on something like the image of a stone wheel or arrow tip.

  • Tony D

    I think it would be way more interesting to have a technology walk of fame where the various inventions (IP) out of Cambridge are showcased. And instead of names being printed on a star emblem, they could be printed on something like the image of a stone wheel or arrow tip, etc.

  • John Jay

    Can we expand it outside of Cambridge? I second the nomination for Ken Olsen. I’d like to nominate An Wang.

  • Ed Roberts

    What a great idea for an Entrepreneurs Walk of Fame in Kendall Square. I remember way back 30 years ago when we started the MIT Enterprise Forum. There were not loads of struggling and succeeding entrepreneurs here then. When I founded the MIT Entrepreneurship Center in 1990, we had just one MIT course in entrepreneurship and the very beginning of student activities. Now we have 30 courses, 20 faculty, and an entire Institute with thousands of students and hundreds of faculty interested and engaged in entrepreneurial start-ups. Many people contributed vitally to this sea change in Boston/Cambridge and are indeed “stars” in the entrepreneurial world. It would be great to make those stars into a shining path for others to follow.

    See my report of last year on the economic impact of the ~26,000 living MIT alumni entrepreneurs and their companies. They have affected the world (3 million jobs and $2 trillion in global revenues) and are the very roots of the Greater Boston and Massachusetts economies.
    [“Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT” at http://entrepreneurship.mit.edu/impact.php
    Edward Roberts, Professor Management, MIT Sloan School, and Founder/Chair, MIT Entrepreneurship Center

  • Bernard Wadsworth

    I’d like to nominate …
    ALEXANDER BELL — the first phone call was made from a point a little further west on Main Street in Cambridge to downtown Boston across the river. There was a plaque commemorating this historic event on a building at that site. I would suggest wall plaques be used as opposed to stars in the sidewalk: sidewalks fare OK in the milder climate of Hollywood, but as we know (look around Kendall Square)not so well here in the Boston area.
    I’d also nominate EDWIN LAND whose original lab as I recall was on Ames St.near Amherst St.

  • Bernard Wadsworth

    …and also …
    HAROLD EDGERTON, GRIER, and GERMEHAUSEN;
    and CHARLES S. DRAPER

  • Bernard Wadsworth

    Plaques, rather than stars, would allow for a certain amount of text to accompany the name and so give background details for the uninitiated/tourist et al. (See the plaque for Bell on Main St. — I hope it’s still there. I used make a point of running my visitors from Australia past that spot).

  • Jo-Ann D

    I would like to nominate Dr. Edwin Land, who founded the Polaroid Company, and also King C. Gillette, who founded The Gillette Company.

  • http://www.upwardpro.com Ted Chan

    We can’t leave Ed Roberts off this list! Hope he’s the first one in. It’s a great idea and I fully support it. Bill has done a great job picking up where Ken and Ed left off with the E-Center.

  • bakatbakastakatcz

    Have you all lost your mind? I would prefer to believe that the accomplishments of the people so fervently nominated here are significant enough on their own merit and don’t need to be commemorated by a convention invented in an industry (Hollywood) notorious for it’s fickle nature and loose standards. Don’t we have the brain power locally to come up with something a tad more innovative?

  • Derek

    Imitation is not fitting and we don’t need to copy Hollywood. The contributions of this communities works of imagination are in a different league.

    We can do better than stars.

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