Once upon a time, being a techie and launching a business meant adapting to the warmer climate in California after graduating from MIT or dropping out of Carnegie Mellon. Young developers and designers, hopeful inventors and ideological innovators descended upon Silicon Valley starting in the late ’60s. And up until the past few years, not much had changed.
Now tech startups are sparking in cities across the country, but none so much as New York. Brand new micro corporations are settling in the Financial District, illuminating Chelsea, running Lower Manhattan and invigorating all parts of Brooklyn. The same talent pools that once fled to the west coast are sticking closer to home and saving on rents by headquartering in the city.
However, it’s more than cost-savings drawing technological hopefuls to the five boroughs. Initiatives from the city, such as We Are Made in NY, are already in place to offer a support system to emerging businesses. Mayor Bloomberg, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and NYC Digital launched the Digital Roadmap, enhancing accessibility and education. Not to mention AT&T’s $1.6 million investment into the homegrown well of expertise.
New York City has made a point of highlighting and investing in the tech industry. So have its businesses.
Quirky, headquartered on 28th Street, helps innovators prototype, market and sell new products. Cooperatives across the city provide work space and tight communities for tech-minded makers to collaborate. Startups around the city start small and grow from the input and programming provided by others.
Exhibitions are a factor, too. The companies showing at the first Engadget Expand New York were given unprecedented access to interface with future consumers beyond Kickstarter campaigns. The show allowed inventors to gauge interest in their products, beta test, promote and chat with investors and peers in the industry. The fact that Engadget holds an annual competition that invests a total of $25,000 in startup enterprises is no small thing either.
But more than anything, what appeals to these new companies is its flagship market status. Technology is flocking to the city for the same reason fashion does: New York City gets it first. Innovators are using robotics, cloud computing and apps to make everyday life easier, save money and generally just do better. Today’s tech companies are lifestyle brands, and there’s no greater location to introduce them to the world. New York’s all-embracing environment is making it possible to get everything from energy conscious powerstrips to calorie counting scales. If this keeps up, the newfangled things we thought were just fantasies for The Jetsons and Back to the Future aren’t too far away.
They’re already making plans for the hoverboard.