WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Small business entrepreneurs need some help, according to Barbara Finer of Hudson. That's why she plans to open an innovation center called TechSandBox, and Westborough is her preferred location.
"My mission is to bring a voice to the region, to create a destination for entrepreneurs and an ecosystem that supports them," said Finer, who runs a marketing firm called Quivivity in Marlborough.
The idea is simple: to create a space for small businesses to have an office, hold seminars, network with other small businesses and gain a foothold. She also wants to solve what she calls "the fragmented market problem" in the Metro West region by creating a centralized hub for what she sees as a very active tech sector.
"We tend to hear about start-ups after they've gotten their traction after they've gotten some money," said Finer, who is on the board of the WPI Venture Forum and an adjunct professor at Emerson College. "I'm trying to find out about these start-ups that haven't gotten there yet."
Still in the early stages of the project, Finer is narrowing down potential locations for the office. One company she hopes to talk with about a sponsorship is EMC, located in the Westborough Technology Park off of Route 9.
"[EMC's] strategy is growth through acqusition of start-ups," Finer said. "If EMC provided a little piece of that building for a couple of years as an in-kind sponsorship, we'll know how big this is going to grow."
As there is no model in the Metro-West region, Finer said it is difficult to project how TechSandBox might progress. The reason Westborough is on the top of her list of potential locations is its central location. Her goal is to be about a 20-minute drive for people in surrounding areas. Other towns on Finer's list are Hopkinton, Marlborough, Hudson and Southborough.
"[Start-ups] will participate more frequently when something is convenient for them," Finer said. "I am very pleasantly encouraged. I've been living [in Metro West] for 30 years. ... I am seeing the towns behaving in a way that they're really starting to help each other."
Finer said she hopes to have a commitment for a space that can house about 10 start-ups in a "cubicle-farm" setting within 60 to 90 days. The current goal is to have a networking event at another facility in January, with her project up and running by March.