Region Taps Entrepreneurial Energy


Since BusinessWest began publishing in 1984 as the Western Mass. Business Journal, it has shined a bright spotlight on both entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.

The former, of course, refers to people — adventurous, forward-thinking, ambitious people who have taken ideas and converted them into successful businesses. Over the years, the magazine has devoted thousands of words and front-page photos to entrepreneurs who have shaped the local business landscape, from Peter Picknelly to Delcie Bean — with hundreds in between.

The latter, meanwhile, refers to the ongoing work to encourage people to become entrepreneurs and then assist and mentor them as they bring ideas to the marketplace, a centerpiece of regional efforts in the broad realm of entrepreneurship.

In short, we’ve celebrated entrepreneurs — BusinessWest even created an annual award to recognize the region’s ‘top entrepreneur,’ and Bean was the latest to receive that honor — and we’ve encouraged and recognized efforts to create more stories like his. Indeed, the magazine recognized Valley Venture Mentors as one of its Difference Makers for 2015 for its efforts to foster entrepreneurship and help business owners reach that critical ‘next stage’ — whatever it might be.

With this issue, BusinessWest takes its focus on entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship to a different, even higher level, with a new series of profiles that will collectively capture a new wave of entrepreneurial energy sweeping across the region.

Over the next year, we’ll relate some very intriguing stories about people young and old, with concepts ranging from software to hard cider; wedding dresses to pet-security devices, and how they are working to caress these products and services into thriving businesses.

As we’ve mentioned before and in many different ways, this enprepreneurial energy and the forces behind it constitute a far bigger story than the casino soon to take shape in Springfield’s South End, and a far bigger story than the subway-car-manufacturing facility soon to build on the other end of the city.

For while the casino will create a few thousand jobs and provide a spark for the convention and tourism business, and while the new manufacturing plant will come with hundreds of those proverbial good jobs and good wages, the stories of entrepreneurship unfolding across the entire region hold the key to a stronger, more sustainable economy for Western Mass.

We begin our series with a story on Northampton-based Machine Metrics (see story, page 6). This is an emerging company started by serial entreprepreneurs Bill Bither and Eric Fogg that has created a potentially game-changing software product that enables precision manufacturers to track the performance of each machine and each production shift.

This is a very specific, but also potentially lucrative, niche — but so are most of the others we’ll be profiling in the months to come.

The principals at Machine Metrics are in the process of scaling up their venture and will be aided in those efforts with a recent round of venture-capital funding. They exude optimism as they talk about the size of the market they’re penetrating and their ability to grab a huge share of that market.

It’s impossible to say where this venture will be in five years or even five months, but in many respects, it seems like the sky is the limit.

Getting to this point has taken imagination, hard work, and determination, and much more of each will be required to navigate the many challenges that lie ahead.

It is the same for the dozens of other risk takers trying to build on this region’s lengthy and distinguished history of entrepreneurship. That’s what makes these stories so compelling.

And that’s why we’re proud to be telling them.

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