New York is on the brink of a technological renaissance the likes of which have never been seen before in the annals of Silicon Alley. Having lived in New York for the majority of my life, I have never seen such a momentum in the startup scene as I have now. Each week there are dozens of quality events catering to budding entrepreneurs and startups that are further pushing the technology landscape in the city that never sleeps. Innovation in the city has a bright and prosperous outlook. There are quite a few factors that will lead to New York giving Silicon Valley a run for its money as the place to be for the startup and tech ecosystem. The driving force comes down to one major factor, which has a few aspects to it – proximity.
- Proximity to industry – As a startup, whatever industry you are serving, there is a high likelihood of your potential clients having a presence in NYC. If they do not, you really need to question whether or not they should be clients. NYC also hosts a large pool of industry experts across a wide array of verticals.
- Proximity from a transportation standpoint allows you to get more done, more efficiently. In NYC it is possible to have 10 meetings in a day with 10 different people without it being a major disruption to your day. Out in Silicon Valley, you can waste a day getting between SF proper, Palo Alto, Menlo, etc. using the BART and/or Cal Train.
- Proximity to engineering talent. The engineering schools in the Northeast will have a new outlet for talent located in the heart of New York City. NYC is much more accessible from leading institutions like MIT and Harvard than is a cross-country flight to San Francisco. The same goes for the RPI’s and the Carnegie Mellons. This proximity also applies to international talent. JFK has been the hub of immigrants for the last 50 years and New York is usually the first and sometimes only stop for foreigners in the United States.
Another factor that will influence the vibrancy of the startup landscape is the collapse of the financial system. As compensation is regulated and streamlined for investment bankers, there will be a new breed of venture capitalists and angel investors who are ex-bankers who no longer want to deal with the bureaucracy of the bulge brackets. Venture capitalists tend to be a mix of ex-bankers and entrepreneurs. No one city has more banking talent than New York.
Next, the city itself has been very supportive of startups, with Internet Week, NYC Investment Fund, and NYC Economic Development Corp. Co-working spaces are sprouting up all over the city. Cornell’s significant investment in the engineering campus on Roosevelt Island will further cement the fertile startup landscape in New York over the next few years.
Let’s face it; it is cool in this day and age to be involved with a startup. I am not quite sure if this cool factor is a function of the terrible economy, but more and more people are becoming entrepreneurs rather than going the traditional 9-5 route. Speaking of cool, no city is cooler than New York and the thriving ecosystem is making the Alley the choice for many startups rather than the Valley.
Last but not least, if you are burning the midnight oil, it is difficult to get a decent meal on University Avenue in Palo Alto at 2 AM.