I had an awesome last week in NYC while presenting my portfolio company Buzzient (www.buzzient.com) to potential business partners and investors at the Gridley and JEGI conferences. So good that I've tried to step back and understand why Buzzient seems to get more customer and investor traction in NYC? IMHO, there are a few characteristics of the NYC scene that make it (second only to Silicon Valley) a dynamic place for tech businesses:
1. Sense of Urgency
One of the things I've always loved about NYC is the sense of urgency in business conversations. There is very little of the "let's see what happens, come back in 6-12 months" inertia that you find in a number of other areas. Some of this is the "trader" mentality which has moved uptown from Wall Street to the technology clusters in the city. This awareness of the fleeting nature of opportunity makes business conversations in NYC move faster, and have a definite action or endpoint.
I've found CEO's, financial executives, and prospective customers FAR easier to get to in NYC. I think this is related to the sense of urgency, but doors and rolodexes seem to spring open with far less advance notice in NYC. I was pleasantly surprised on this trip to have senior people in a variety of organizations re-arrange their schedules to accomodate my trip. I find that in the Valley, VC's are booked so far in advance(with a lot higher volume demand) that this is hard to do.
3. New Perspective
NYC has changed a lot from the Silicon Alley era. During that time, one could experiment with a tech startup and if things didn't work out, you could always go "Back to Banking". What's different now is that several of the banks are themselves gone (Lehman, Bear Stearns) and others are laying off (Morgan Stanley). For the first time I believe there's a new perspective where, short-term compensation aside, tech startups are not necessarily more risky than staying in financial services. With this fresh perspective, I believe the NYC tech community has a more balanced view of risk and reward that makes the tech community more long-term focused.
4. Community Building
I'm impressed by the amount of community building I see going on in NYC. As mentioned, I was in town to attend Gridley 2013 as well as the JEGI (Jordan Edmiston Group) Conference. In both cases, members of the firm reached out to me proactively to attend, as well as made time for introductions and connections to other companies. I saw a real "can do" attitude in hooking Buzzient up to at least one flagship firm and reknowned investor. Extremely refreshing attitude and one of the reasons why I believe startups from all over the world are seeing NYC as an easy place to get established.
I'll have another chance to evaluate the ecosystem Jan 30 when Buzzient will present as one of the SIIA Class of 2013 at SIIA Breakthrough:
If you happen to be at Chelsea Piers (Pier 60) on Jan 30th, please come by and say hello!