The Boston Business Journal recently named Laura Teicher, Executive Director of FORGE, to their 40 under 40. Teicher has led FORGE through the expansion of the nonprofit’s programs and services since 2018, its third year. FORGE supports innovative companies making physical products from the prototype stage to full scale. Rather than being a traditional accelerator, FORGE focuses on the supply chain, offering manufacturing readiness education, an advisor program and curated connections to the manufacturing ecosystem. FORGE offers its services to startups for free.
The organization spun out of Greentown Labs, one of the top climate tech incubators in North America, to meet the needs of a broader range of physical product startups. Quickly becoming an independent organization, FORGE has grown under Teicher’s leadership. The nonprofit now has offices in Connecticut as well as three sites in Massachusetts.
“Nonprofits deliver on a mission, like any organization, but have an inherently different approach to strategic planning. Mission-aligned income streams can change with macro forces and be challenging to forecast year over year, so there is a need to be nimble,” said Teicher.
Diversity, progress and the manufacturing ecosystem
Teicher knows the importance of a strong team and listening to their needs, the community and broader collaborators.
Teicher brings broad experience to her leadership, having worked in the public and for-profit sectors prior to joining FORGE. She’s something of a Renaissance woman with a B.A. in English and Studio Art from the University of Rochester and an M.B.A. in International Business from Boston University.
In her role at FORGE, Teicher lives her values of diversity, inclusion, and positive change.
FORGE has helped over 700 startups and has a goal to support a diverse manufacturing ecosystem.
“Forty percent of the startups are minority-led. Thirty percent are female- or nonbinary-led,” explained Teicher. “We work to ensure we reach diverse communities who can benefit from our support. But we need to do more work.”
Focusing on her team to meet the triple bottom line
When asked what keeps her motivated, Teicher responded with a broad smile. She feels driven by the impact of the work at FORGE but also by “my team,” she said. “I have an amazing team.”
She is surrounded by smart, talented and determined people who share the same vision but think differently. Thinking differently is key for a successful team as people generate ideas, solutions and take action.
The team at FORGE aims to make a difference. Together, they focus on balancing the needs of manufacturing startups and stakeholders, supporting and advancing government policy and maintaining the independence of a nonprofit, and they do it well.
Teicher brings a relentless drive and passion to her work at FORGE. This isn’t just a job for her – it’s a mission. Describing her feelings about her work, she said, “There is a term ‘triple bottom line’ that refers to organizations that support people, planet, and prosperity. I feel so lucky to be with an organization that has multiple layers of impact: supporting innovators, strengthening the economy, and reducing the carbon footprint of production.”
You can watch Laura on the Manufacturing Alliance podcast here.
Read more profiles of women in nonprofit leadership in our series.