BUILD Boston, Board of Directors – Using the Power of Entrepreneurship to Change Lives

January 2017
Morgan Mosher

Greenhornet Connect spoke to Roy Hirshland, Chairman of the Board- BUILD Boston. BUILD works with high school students in Boston’s most under resourced communities and teaches them entrepreneurship.

GH: What is BUILD?

BUILD works with high school students in Boston’s most under resourced communities. We teach our students about entrepreneurship and help them start real businesses, with the help of mentors from the Boston business community. BUILD creates opportunities for our young people to succeed in school and ultimately in Boston’s innovation economy.

GH: What have you learned from Boston area entrepreneurs?

I have been a part of the Boston entrepreneurial ecosystem for over 25 years.  Boston’s unusual number of universities and students helps create a unique innovation ecosystem.  And youth brings a perpetual sense of hope and optimism.

GH: What are some of the best resources the Boston ecosystem has to offer in your opinion?

I think the ecosystem has created a vast mentoring infrastructure.  Successful entrepreneurs are willing to share their success and failures to help other startups reach their full potential.

GH:What is the Boston ecosystem lacking from your perspective?

Boston is lacking in diversity. There is a real lack of minorities in the tech ecosystem and it is bordering on a crisis in my opinion, both in Boston and Nationally. Organizations like BUILD help to increase the supply of diverse candidates in our city.  I would also add that the ecosystem would benefit by having more women in leadership roles.

GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?

The worst advice I got was in 2001 when some folks said I was crazy to start T3. The second worst piece of advice was in 2011 when we were thinking of opening our first Silicon Valley office and again “they” said we were crazy. Thankfully I didn’t listen to either!

GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?

2016 was a great year for BUILD as we continued to expand with many exciting opportunities. The Entrepreneur Games is bigger than ever and has truly become a special day for Boston’s tech community.  In addition, we added Madison Park High School to our roster and launched a dual enrollment program at Charlestown High where BUILD students can earn an Associates degree before they even graduate from high school.

GH: What does the future hold for BUILD?

I hope we can bring the magic of entrepreneurship to many more high schools in the Boston area.  We are confident in the data that shows our model works and keeps kids in high school, graduating on time and heading to college. In order for BUILD to reach more young people, we need the support of Boston’s innovators to connect with BUILD students as Mentors, Business Coaches, and Supporters.

GH: What does the future hold for the Boston innovation economy?

I am incredibly optimistic about the future of the innovation economy.  We have world class universities that continue to innovate. In addition, we have a local government that continues to push Boston forward.  The most recent example is the mayor’s office and Beacon Hill working effectively together to lure GE to the city.  Boston future as a leader in the innovation economy looks very promising from where I’m standing.

GH: If people want to learn more, what should they do?

We post some great stuff on Twitter or Facebook.  If you are interested in mentoring, go to our Mentor page or contact Katie Quigley Mellor at to learn more. Passion for giving back is essential. Entrepreneurial experience is preferred, but not required.