During my time at my previous job, I was exposed to founders from all over the world. Each of them with the same mission: to expand their operations to the US. It was joyous and humbling to learn their struggles, share in their against-all-odds optimism, and mentor them through their journey.
Something unique I experienced while supporting these entrepreneurs was learning alongside them the wonders of the New York tech scene. As we explored and were amazed by the dynamism of the tech landscape, I came to know and love New York through the eyes of these courageous foreign startups. Many of them declared New York as the perfect landing zone for entering the US market and solidified their dedication to move their operations to the city that never sleeps. They came to recognize New York City as one of the greatest tech ecosystems in the world and one that was quickly making its way to the top.
The reputation of New York City’s tech scene was not known to me until I came here for work. And what amazed me, for all its reputation and prestige, most of the world does not know it to be a hub for cutting-edge tech and innovation.
Now, I could go into why New York City is the #2 top global ecosystem in the world (and I probably will in future posts) but for now, here are some reasons why New York is the best landing zone for any foreign company.
All stakeholders are in your backyard
A driver for New York’s rapid growth, the population density remains one of the most prevalent upsides to New York’s tech scene. In Manhattan (and in many of the outer Boroughs), you will find everything you need to build and scale a business. Your clients might be on Wall Street, while your talent is just up in the East Village, your VCs are in every nook and cranny, and your partners grab drinks in midtown. Not to mention, every building is bursting at the seams with entrepreneurs.
Everyone is just a few subways stops away. The accessibility and convenience of New York City’s famous grid make for faster deals, more collaboration opportunities, and a sense of community unrivaled by car-reliant cities. Marcos Dinnerstein, a prominent connector in the New York tech community, posed the reason proximity works so well in New York City is in part because we don’t use cars. If you are getting in a car, driving to your office, and then driving home, the chance for a serendipitous encounter disappears.
In New York, every squeeze into a subway car or treacherous bike-ride down Broadway presents itself with a million chances to connect.
Diversity is inevitable
New York City is undeniably one of the most diverse places on the planet. Nearly 60% of the city’s population are immigrants or children of immigrants. Living in NYC will expose you to many different perspectives. This diversity leads to a broader understanding of your market and allows founders to make products and services that cater to a more dynamic set of users.
For foreign founders, this also means being accepted more readily by the community and experiencing less prejudice when trying to sell to clients (this is in no way a statement that discrimination does not still exist everywhere in the States).
Additionally, studies show diversity within a company results in better returns so pulling from a diverse applicant pool when hiring can lead to greater success.
If you are coming here to set up your operations, chances are you aren’t bringing the whole team with you. It usually makes sense to leave your R&D division in a more cost-efficient market. Not to mention the need to have investor calls, client meetings, and the threat of neverending jetlag.
You want your HQ in the US to have reasonable overlap with your home turf’s timezone to reduce these operational difficulties.
To make this a simple argument, I took a look at Startup Genome’s top ten ecosystems list and compared their time zones. New York City is the most centrally located established ecosystem in the US in conjunction with the other top ten’s time zones (say that five times fast).
This point is by nature anecdotal. New York City gets a reputation for being filled with people who are busy, rude, and driven by self-interest. And while that may be true in some of the industry circles, the tech scene possesses a strong sense of community.
This has to do with the way NY Tech was born and nurtured. According to Galina Ozgur, a supporter of the New York Tech scene and an early operator in the space —
The tech community in the city started with a variety of stakeholders interested in promoting entrepreneurship and fostering an encouraging environment for everyone involved. Some efforts grew into meetups (think NY Tech Meetup — currently the largest meetup group in the world and NYC’s longest running tech gathering), others led to pitch events, incubators, accelerators, funds, angel groups, VC & angel investment bootcamps, entrepreneurship courses, service provider groups focused on founders and value-added services for startups, etc. None of these would have been possible without an understanding that we all were building something together. The only way New York City’s tech scene was to become great was through the effort of everyone involved – Galina Ozgur
These beginnings led to an environment of giving into the community. I came to know and love the New York City tech scene primarily because of the overwhelming sense that people are devoted to the development and support of tech and entrepreneurship. John Lynn, who has been a major contributor to my experience of the NYC tech scene, is a strong believer in community as a driving force of innovation.
The most powerful trait of NYC’s tech community is that, at least amongst its leaders, unicorns, and emerging talent, 50% of everyone’s job is everyone else’s job. There are so many great people that treat the opportunity to help someone else with value and urgency. Because of this culture, the most common question is not what do I think but: how do I help? — John Lynn
NYC VCs Love International Startups
Of course one of the most enticing reasons to enter the US market is not just access to customers and talent but also the promise of new capital opportunities. There is no question that the most important reason a startup cites for entering the US market is to raise funds.
While most VCs in the US will only consider companies who have an established presence here (a legal entity and some traction), many in NYC are quite open to investing in international companies and will, at the very least, offer up guidance as you plan your move here.
Additionally, there are many private organizations providing resources and programming to help companies expand to the US. David Teten, Managing Partner at HOF Capital, identifies the organizations and VCs pretty comprehensively on his blog here.
There are many other reasons why New York City is the best city to move to when seeking expansion to the US. I could go on about the many accelerators helping foreign startups or how New York is perfect for any hyphen-tech company, especially in the retail, media, or fashion spaces. I would be remiss to not mention NYC’s rate of growth indicating it’s only going to get better and I could spend an entire article ruminating about the energy which drives the heart of the city and its propensity to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit.
But, in the end, the most compelling argument to New York’s tech scene is through first-hand experience. So, if you are considering expanding your operations to the US, I encourage you to come and see what we have to offer. But don’t do it alone! When you get here, reach out to the community and the community will welcome you with open arms.
I know I will.