Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Lessons Learned from /bin NYC

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Last week, we held our /bin NYC event, which featured Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired, giving the keynote address, and Elijah Wood DJing the afterparty. Over 600 members of the New York tech community showed up, and we had a great time chatting (and dancing) with everyone.

While the event itself was excellent, I’m more pleased about the fact that I was able to spend the two months leading up to it learning about the New York tech scene. As someone who’s spent so much time in Silicon Valley, it was a truly enlightening experience, and I’d like to share a few observations.

Sometimes, smaller is better

 In Silicon Valley, we have an endless supply of everything you need to create a successful startup – VC money, mentorship, and talented workers – all of which are fundamental to the incredible environment that we have for cultivating new companies.

In comparison, New York obviously has less of those resources. What I found, though, is that rather than discouraging people from entrepreneurship, it makes them scrappy and agile. Starting a company isn’t “cool” like it has become in the Valley –  instead creating the next Pinterest just because they want to start a business, entrepreneurs are starting companies because they want to solve real problems. Not to say that doesn’t happen here, but the quality of companies is diluted by people who are becoming entrepreneurs just because everyone else is doing it.

Community abounds in New York

While all the individual companies I met with were incredibly impressive, what stood out to me the most was the pervasive sense of community.

There are fantastic meetups, coworking spaces, and incubators that I had a chance to visit while I was out there, all of which work not only to help their members, but also to improve the community as a whole. In a city driven by cutthroat businesses like finance, it was amazing to see the willingness of everyone to help one another – and to help me, despite the fact that to them I’m just some guy from Silicon Valley.

New York uniquely shapes its startups

 In Silicon Valley, we tend to see an endless flow of startups trying to solve the problems of tech companies, since those are the companies around them. As someone who works a tech company, I appreciate people trying to solve my problems, but also recognize that this focus is limiting in terms of the types of startups we see created.

While many of New York’s early startup successes were on the consumer front (Gilt and Etsy, to name two of my favorites), I was surprised to see how much the focus has shifted to b2b companies in the recent past. This presents itself not only in the form of disruptive companies like SecondMarket, but also in groups like the Enterprise Tech Innovation meetup, which consists of not only people from the tech industry, but investment bankers and lawyers as well.

Engaging with New York has been not only enlightening, but also a ton of fun. I’m really pleased that we were able to give something back to the community, and I’m looking forward to doing even more in the future. If you’re in NY and interested in technology or the enterprise, our team would love to chat – just tweet at us @Boxplatform.

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