What do a nuclear physicist juggling six companies, an artist who etches faces on urns and a Yorkshire Terrier have in common? They have all made valuable use of their time at SoTechie Space (the dog by association.) And thanks to its location right near Bryant Park, SoTechie has become a relaxed, easily accessible space that welcomes businesses and telecommuters from all walks of life.
SoTechie is lined with rows of black tables in the main room, with various printers, office papers and extra phones situated in the center for easy access. Behind every other door is either a conference room or private office. There’s even a soundproof room with a music engineer who you can rent by the hour. People mean business here, but any work breaks are surely welcome. Consider that Yorkshire Terrier. While he first went unnoticed for about two hours, he was soon getting belly rubs from appreciative members. Now, he’s a fixture.
“One girl even said, ‘This dog made my day,’” recalls Nancy Gonzalez, the site’s director, whose desk is situated at the end of the long hallway, in view of all who enter and work at SoTechie, so she is ready to assist at anytime.
With her background in IT, Gonzalez has been dabbling with her own start-ups since she was 17 and is comfortable dealing with all the excitement and challenges that come with entrepreneurship. She even makes it a point to offer office hours to all her members. For Gonzalez, being flexible and helpful to start-ups are two essential traits to running the space. It’s why SoTechie offers free co-working hours on Friday. Yes, free, as Gonzalez has assured many who write her skeptical emails.
It’s also why members received catering from Farm2Me at their latest Lunch and Learn event, which are special sessions set up to provide useful information to entrepreneurs. Farm2Me is a fairly new company that provides food from local farmers and food artisans. SoTechie met them at NY Tech Day and, in keeping with that spirit of helpfulness, decided to have them cater the event, then survey SoTechie members about the quality of the service.
In addition to hosting guest speakers, SoTechie hosts special events, such as setting up professional headshots done by an in-house team, or helping companies create start-up videos. Need a fun environment where you can host your next Superbowl party and network at the same time? SoTechie is there for you, chips and beer included.
And while the company name might suggest that it caters more to tech startups, SoTechie is gaining a reputation for welcoming all kinds of people, including those who head this way from overseas. It’s why Gonzalez received an unexpected call one day from the mayor’s office, asking if they accepted international clients. A few months later, Gonzalez found herself accommodating a Russian firm seeking to invest in startups focusing on green technology.
SoTechie is currently hosting an intern from Spain who is set to get involved with SoTechie’s latest incubator project, which will soon be recruiting its first class for its 16 week program. SoTechie Labs’ New York Technology Incubator is a 16- week program to help build startups by assisting them with financing ($15,000), office space, brand management, marketing, accounting, banking, PR, and legal aid services – and pizza nights – in exchange for a 4 – 8 percent equity stake. The program will be capped by a demo day, complete with investors in attendance.
In the meantime, SoTechie keeps its doors open 24/7, and even provides a virtual office, complete with online assistants or receptionists, for those who prefer not to leave the comfort of their own homes. But sometimes it’s worth heading over to the space. That four-legged companion just might brighten up your workday – and remind you of the importance of kicking back and not always being, um, so techie.