Startups are seeking access to city’s startup czar

A new newsletter hopes to put a public face on City Hall. Photo: DAVID KAMERMAN/GLOBE STAFF
A new newsletter hopes to put a public face on City Hall. Photo: DAVID KAMERMAN/GLOBE STAFF

Last week, the City of Boston announced that it has named Rory Cuddyer as its new startup czar. As outlined in Mayor Martin Walsh’s State of the City address in January, the position will oversee StartHub, described as “a regional program to support the startup community and help entrepreneurs grow their ideas and businesses in Boston.”

As the city has stated, and Cuddyer confirmed with an interview for BostInno, one of the key responsibilities for his new role is to be “the first point of contact for startups if they have a question for the city.”

It is a really great idea, and although Cuddyer doesn’t have that much experience with the startup community, the city believes his prior experience — he previously worked as an adviser to chief of staff Daniel Koh — and understanding of the inner workings of City Hall will make it more seamless for startups eager to partner with the city to connect with the right people and departments.

“My role is not going to be successful unless people know that there is a resource available to them,” said Cuddyer today. “I am going to be that person in city hall who can help troubleshoot whatever problems companies have. I’m going to be their person in city hall to answer whatever questions they have.”

However, there is one teensy problem.

In the wake of the announcement, several startup founders have said they’ve been eager to connect with Cuddyer, the only problem is they haven’t been able to figure out a way to reach him. It seems that the person whose job description is to be the connecting force between the innovation ecosystem and the city isn’t very easy to track down via e-mail.

Complicating matters is is that StartHub — the program meant to support the startup community and serve as the way for companies to partner with the city on innovative projects — doesn’t really exist in the digital world. Currently, StartHub doesn’t have a website. An online search reveals a GoDaddy placeholder page, starthubboston.org, but nothing more.

Cuddyer said today that StartHub, which is itself in very early stages as a program, is in the process of building a very comprehensive website that he hopes will be live soon. Cuddyer himself is also in the process of getting a new e-mail address. (Update: The best way to get in touch with him is Rory.cuddyer@boston.gov.)

“This is a new role and a new program and there are a lot of pieces that have to come into place to get this moving forward,” said Melina Schuler, the senior media liaison for Mayor Walsh. “We are still in the early stages.”

“Things are changing soon,” he promised.

Until then, you can seek Cuddyer out on Twitter: @RoryCuddyer.

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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