Why I love New York Tech
My first New York tech event was a 500 Startups Demo day. Running on an empty stomach, I walked into General Assembly and felt a wave of body heat that made me excited but nautious. I felt like I had stumbled upon a nexus of guys in t-shirts, plaid, and collared button downs. Who ARE these people??? Having just arrived back from 3 months of international travel, it was a different kind of culture shock.
After all the demos (and a few drinks), I finally felt comfortable enough to introduce myself to strangers. Eventually, I was lucky enough to start a fun conversation with one of the 500 startups gradutes. She was super friendly, genuinely interested in my idea, and eager to help me.
One of the many things she advised me was,
"You gotta move to San Francisco."
"Why is that?" I asked.
"It’s hard to explain. It’s just a different vibe. Different energy."
That conversation haunted me for the next few days. Should I try to get into an accelerator program like 500 Startups? Should I transplant my company to Silicon Valley? My path suddenly split into diverging roads that I knew could lead to very different places.
Fast forward 6 months, and I’m still in New York. Did I make the right decision? Hell if I know. I don’t think life reveals ‘right or wrong’ answers to questions like that like that. All I know is that right now, at this very moment - I’m still in the Big Apple - and I’m loving it. I absolutely love New York. What’s more, I absolutely love New York Tech.
Why do I love New York Tech? Here’s some reasons.
Tangent: anyone remember in Back to the Future when Marty McFly delivers this line? Makes me laugh every time! ANYways…
I’m from a suburb of Chicago. It’s a spread out town that’s great for pushing a huge cart through my local Target. Gosh I miss Target. But as much as wide open spaces are comfortable, there’s something to be said for being physically close to brilliant people that fiercely chase their passions. The energy is contagious. Collaboration is inevitable - resistance is futile.
In an industry that embraces social collaboration, New Yorks jam packed events and blossoming co-working spaces are things that make the New York Tech community feel so alive. Take the New York Tech Meetup, for example. NYTM hosts monthly events that showcase promising NY startups. Last fall, Mayor Bloomberg gave an impromptu message to show his support of tech in New York. That’s a big deal! These meetup have become so popular, that tickets sell out in minutes. But instead of shrugging their shoulders, the meetup organizers collaborated with New Work City (a super friendly co-working space) to host a satellite simulcast so that people could still watch the demos, have a beer and network. New York may have limited space, but there’s no limit to what tightly knit communities can do. This belief in tight communities is what fuels me in my business at Waggit.
Learn, learn, learn - until you die.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re hungry for knowledge. With that hunger, you quickly realize there’s a LOT to figure out. How to network. How to code. How to incorporate. How to Tweet. The list is endless. That’s what’s so great about being an entrepreneur, it’s your job to read, think creatively and stay inspired. Here are some ways to learn stuff that I’ve personally tried.
Girl Develop It offers live classes where girls can learn how to code without feeling like they’re interrupting a sausage fest. Alexis Goldstein taught the html/css into class, and I really liked how she walked us through concepts first and then real life examples. The class was well worth the money spent.
Skillshare ‘s motto is “Learn anything from anyone, anywhere.” I took a class called Building Communities in Space. Nooo - the class did not teach people how to grow alien populations. The class was a discussion format folks who’ve built flourishing communities in New York and their advice to others trying to do the same. It was a great group of people and an easy way to knock shoulders with people of a common interest.
For centuries, people from around the world have flocked to New York city in pursuit of a better life - a chance to make something of themselves. Even today, even after all this Occupy Wall Street action, I still believe New York has people who work hard, beat the odds, and let their passions shine.
Don’t get me wrong, even if you’re in coding something from an igloo in Alaska, you’re a-okay by me! From Silicon Valley to Silicon Beach - we’re all pockets of people who want to stay inspired by doing things that solve problems and makes us better people.
Why do you love New York tech? Have some perspectives on other cities that would enlighten me? Surprise me.