Silicon Valley has long been known as the startup capital of the world. However a shift is occurring, resulting in large entrepreneurial growth being brought to New York City. Startups in Silicon Valley have a history of creating digital infrastructure and tech hardware, but ‘Silicon Alley’ is tailored to startups that want to build digital businesses. As the intersection between ecommerce, education, fashion, media, advertising, finance, and healthcare industries, New York City is the natural choice for startups that wish to be immersed in these fields.
NYC has seen an influx of entrepreneurial activity with several startups rising above the rest into startup prominence. Foursquare, Kickstarter, Tumblr, Codeacademy, Gilt Groupe are just some of the NYC based startups that have found immense success in recent years. One commonality they all share however is that they are all digital businesses rather than hardware centric.
Though why has NYC experienced such growth in the startup sector?
Part of the reason has been vast access to capital from both VCs and the arrival of venture-backed acceleration programs. NYC BigApps competition offered $50,000 prizes for developers to create apps based off of data gathered by the city that improve quality of life for users living in NYC. Overall venture backing increased 17% in Q2 totaling $7 billion, putting 2012 on pace to beat 2010 in investments. Nonetheless certain analysis indicates that Boston ranks close with NYC in terms of startup activity, but much of that is life science while NYC is ahead in terms of tech and information.
A New Tech City report indicated that New York was the only technology region between 2007 and 2011 to increase total venture capital deals posting a 32% increase, compared to declines of 10% in Silicon Valley and 14% in New England. While private sector employment in the city grew by only 4%, the total number of information technology jobs in the city rose 29% over the past five years to 52,900. Overall tech sector growth has been favorable as the New York City Economic Development Corp. counts 90,273 new jobs, a 30% hike since 2005.
It is also manageable to find whatever type of employee is needed in NYC. The city has a favorable culture and atmosphere conducive to bringing in talent with an ‘always on’ attitude, things are continually buzzing and that frenetic nature is reflected in its people. It’s a good place to find employees with operations, sales, and editorial expertise as well as looking into a labor pool of engineers that has formed for the opportunity to work for companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google which have built offices in New York. The recent financial crash has also affected employment trends as many graduates look to entrepreneurship as an alternative to Wall Street. Computer engineers laid off during the crash have also started their own companies which has played an integral role in the rise of NYC based startups, according to Brad Hargreaves, cofounder of generalassemb.ly.
“Software programmers are uniquely suited to start new companies. Over the past ten years, the cost — in time and money — of starting a new technology company has dropped significantly. Whether a technology company is developing new products, selling those products in a new way, or helping people live longer and better lives, the first step in a company’s development often involves writing some software — the realm of programmers.”
There has also been several moves by New York City’s government to encourage tech innovation within the city. Mayor Bloomberg himself has even remarked that Silicon Valley cannot overtake New York City given the city’s “depth of fashion, media, publishing, and bioscience industries,” making this city a hub for innovation. Applied Sciences NYC offered $100 million funding for a new academic campus for applied sciences and engineering which was awarded to Cornell to build a new facility that will be both part grad school and part incubator.
So much activity however can make it difficult to scope the city for a way to get involved and enter the startup scene. Using Peeriscope is a great way to reach out to and meet like-minded individuals. Now that Peeriscope has integrated Meetup support, finding a community in which you can pitch ideas to or find business partners is effortless. From entrepreneur networks to investment conferences, Peeriscope can help you find relevant meetups in your niche and get connected to the people you need to reach in order to help your business grow.