Today we speak with Agatha Chang, cofounder of Powhow, the first global marketplace and technology platform for live webcam classes.
What is your take on the startup scene in NYC today?
Having experienced the rollercoaster ride of the dot com boom/bust of the 90s and 2000’s in the Bay Area, what’s really exciting in NYC is that we are seeing a unique culture and vibe. If you walk into a coffee shop in SF, everyone is either an engineer or working at a startup. Because you have so many engineers in the valley, the culture tends to skew that way — stereotypically — the barefoot, hoodied geek. In NYC, the start-up scene is so much more balanced, as you have this amazing city as the backdrop as well as diversity, both culturally and socio-economically.
What do you see happening over the next 3-5 years?
There are a ton of exciting, emerging tech companies like Powhow that are getting funding and traction in NYC, beyond the name-brand stalwarts like Meetup, Kickstarter, and Four Square. It’s a lot easier these days to get funding and build a kick ass engineering team in the city because of the early success of the first generation of start-ups and the programs/incentives Mayor Bloomberg put in place. Over the next 3 years, it’s just going to get better and we will start seeing start-ups take it for granted that they were born here.
What do you think the challenges are?
I think the challenge for everyone in the startup scene in NYC is for us not to let the buzz/hype overshadow the realities of running a successful company. Have you seen the Bravo show “Silicon Valley”? The series is a ridiculous, yet an accurate portrayal of what’s wrong with the start-up scene in the Valley. Don’t get drunk off your own Kool-Aid. Focus on building a great product and a real business. What I love about New York is the edge, grit and penchant of the people here for telling it like it is. We’re building real businesses here and we’re here to stay!
Where does your company fit in the ecosystem?
What’s really cool about what we are doing at Powhow is that it really underscores the fact that the physical location of your business is becoming more and more irrelevant. We see it every day with the fitness, dance, and music instructors who have launched their online studios using our software. The piano teacher and yoga studio down the block are no longer limited by their own geography. We eliminate the start-up costs and location constraints associated with opening up a physical store-front. For $30 a month (a fraction of a fraction of rent) you can be up and running on Powhow in minutes and start teaching and reaching new clients across the world.
Read what other thought leaders are saying in the “Pulse of the Alley”.