Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah on the State of Consumer Tech in Massachusetts

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Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah at 2016 Mass Tech Leadership Awards Gala

I think the last 10 years have seen consumer tech (via the Internet) really take off, and a number of leaders have emerged in Massachusetts leveraging the strength of software, marketing and other local talent. Ten years ago Wayfair was just starting to emerge as a company under the name of CSN Stores, and TripAdvisor was already meaningful – but there were very few other businesses starting to take root that had potential for widespread reach and mass awareness. There was a fairly common belief that you needed to go to San Francisco or New York to start a consumer tech company. However, there were also a lot of factors at play that made Massachusetts ripe for B2C innovation.

In hindsight, Massachusetts has faired very well, outpacing New York for consumer Internet success stories including Care.com, Car Gurus, Rue La La, and others. Massachusetts was very well positioned to tap its tech talent to solve consumer problems and reimagine so many aspects of consumer life from finding child care to shopping for a sofa. Smart, entrepreneurial young people were eager to apply their skills and energy to something new and exciting.

Fast forward to 2016, the state can now point to multiple success stories in the consumer tech realm and we now have the credibility as an entrepreneurial hotspot that has attracted Fortune 500 mega company GE and many other businesses and entrepreneurs to Massachusetts. Today there is a strong ecosystem of top talent, consumer brands, VCs and industry associations with the expertise and interest to fuel more growth in the consumer tech sector. We are on the brink of something very big in Massachusetts.