Fact: New York City provides greater business opportunities for an ambitious entrepreneur than any other city can. But for some reason, certain misconceptions about entrepreneurship in NYC have become mainstream, and many people have unwarrantedly grown to feel as though New York is not a good place to build a successful startup.
In actuality, this dubious claim could not be any further from the truth. Here is a list of the five most common things you thought you knew about entrepreneurship in NYC, and the real truth that you were too blind to see:
1. NYC is the deformed little brother to Silicon Valley
If this statement were made 10 years ago, then there would not be much that we could argue. During the first tech boom, all of the magic was happening out West, and New York brought little to the table. However, now the game has completely changed.
The startup ecosystem in NYC has become the second strongest in the entire world – by a landslide – and is only behind Silicon Valley by mere inches, overall. This is largely due to the fact that Silicon Valley's ecosystem has had a head start over New York that is decades long. The rivalry dates back to the “Traitorous 8” during the late 1950's.
However, since the second tech boom in the early 2000's, New York has established itself as a Mecca for entrepreneurs. There is more human capital here than anywhere else in the world. There is also more money here than anywhere else in the world: from venture capital and private equity, to Wall Street and wealthy families, there are more entrepreneurial resources here than anywhere else in the world. NYC is clearly the best headquarters for your startup. Here, every industry that could you could possibly imagine will overlap and contribute to your business.
In fact, certain sectors of tech-based ventures were ranked higher than those in Silicon Valley (see Startup Genome), including: marketplaces, social networks, financial tools and enterprise systems. With the rise of Silicon Alley and the entrepreneurial boom in Brooklyn, you are crazy if you want to be anywhere else than NYC! Just wait until Cornell opens its tech campus on Roosevelt Island, then NYC will solidify its position as a startup haven.
2. Startup's here require politics and connections to be successful
Business in general involves industry-politics, and relies on deep and diverse connections. If you want to be successful you must master this. If you have a problem with this, then business is not for you.
Those who find business success in NYC are the most established in the world. Because being connected is so essential to attaining success, it is only natural that there are many well-connected people here. Follow us so far?
Connections and politics are not more involved in business in NYC than they are in any other city. Success is the same anywhere you go, regardless of geographic location. Anyone that blames their failures or shortcomings on this misconception is someone who cannot take responsibility for themselves. Not only will someone like this not attain success anywhere, but no one will want to work with them either.
3. A NYC startup cannot succeed without funding, which is impossible to secure
Again, this is an utterly false statement. Now more than ever, startups can be built and run for next to nothing. How else would college kids around the world be launching successful ventures from their dorm rooms? Bootstrapping is also prevalent among startups, and is just as effective as seed-funding for the majority of companies.
In fact, bootstrapped companies receive more funding nowadays than non-bootstrapped. In this economy, investors everywhere look for startups that have proven themselves already. And this should not surprise you.
You should also know that NYC-based startups in the scale stage receive 27% more funding than those based in Silicon Valley. If you want some pointers on how to get the face time needed to secure capital, then check out the article How To Get Into The Winner's Circle.
4. It is too hard to assemble a talented team here
As stated before, NYC is home to more human capital than anywhere else. The talent available is outstanding; NYC is home to countless Fortune 500 companies and other major corporations that all employ some of the best tech guys. If you are looking for marketing or public representation personnel, look no further. NYC is indisputably the media capital of the world.
Whatever skill type you are looking for, there is a company, club, meet up and event that can help you find someone that has exactly what your team needs. You just have to know how to sell your offers so that they will join your team.
5. It is too hard to generate buzz in NYC
With the current state of social media marketing, no buzz is hard to generate. Think of those ridiculous YouTube videos that go viral within a day and coin overnight celebrities. The most effective startups employ the same tactics, and so far social media has proven itself to be one of the best ways to market a brand. This costs nothing, requires basically no effort and you do not need any connections to make it work.
There are also a ton of digital publications based in NYC that have influential voices in the startup community. Naturally, it is easier to get on their radar screen when you are located only a few blocks away from them. And for those digital publications not based in NYC, reaching out to them and securing a write-up about your venture is incredibly easy. You do not need an expensive (and fruitless) launch, like Sean Parker's Airtime, or a demo event, like Microsoft's new tablet debut, to generate buzz for your startup.