Today we speak with Aron Schoenfeld, Founder of DoItInPerson, an online event planning and organizing service.
What is your take on the current scene in New York today?
New York is and always has been an interesting place for business. The extremely diverse mix of people and industries is evident just from walking into a local coffee shop. As a financial hub, New York has been hit extremely hard by the current economy and as a result we are seeing more startups and entrepreneurial activity than ever before. Government initiatives are helping push New York to be a tech hub and spur innovation.
From an outsider’s perspective, the current scene in New York would look like an explosion of startups and technology innovation. However, what I think is really happening is that you have a lot of people without jobs but with ideas for companies creating a buzz, which may not be sustainable. Co-working spaces and similar places where entrepreneurs can spend the day working are creating a centralized hub for networking and brainstorming, but I feel like that is where many people stop. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of innovation and great things happening, but I think that the New York scene is still very much full of people who have a dream but are unsure what to do with it.
Part of the driver for this is the overabundance of events that gives everyone the opportunity to network and share their ideas. While these events are in many formats, they ultimately give people the opportunity to interact with others and try and find people who can help make it a reality. This is a great resource, but I find that most people are stuck as full time event goers instead of taking that next step in their vision.
What do you see happening over the next 3-5 years?
I think you will see a dramatic shift in where businesses are located – either at the start or during their growth stage. As companies in the city grow, rent is not affordable for most startups. There is already a slight shift into Brooklyn and I would imagine that that would continue unless specific tax breaks or discounted office spaces are made available. Co-working spaces will continue to grow at a rapid pace which will lead to more ideas and innovation.
Larger, more established companies like Google and Facebook will continue to have a growing New York presence but smaller startups will find it challenging to remain in New York. The new initiative between Technion and Cornell will be great for the city and attract some of the best and brightest here, but New York may be a bit hard pressed to keep them here. As a result, there will be additional initiatives and programs put in place to keep New York as a place for startups. The startup community will also have a more active role in shaping new policy.
What do you see as challenges?
High rents and high taxes are the biggest challenges facing New York. Cities like Miami, which have no state income tax and are desperately trying to bring startups to their community, are offering many incentives to entice companies to move there. How New York markets itself and its culture will play a big role in determining if they can stand up to these challenges.
Where does your company fit in the ecosystem?
My company, DoItInperson.com, allows people to create, manage and promote events. As the event scene in New York continues to grow to the point where people have made events and networking a full time job, we will aim to give people the data they need to create better events and find the right events for them to attend.
We know that New York is a central hub for people from all five boroughs, New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut. People come in to attend events all over the city. We want to be an enabler: to help make these events more meaningful and help people meet who they need to meet, learn what they need to learn and be in the right environment to help grow their company, which will ultimately enhance the New York scene.
Read what other thought leaders are saying in the “Pulse of the Alley”.