It’s easy to think that someone who is in love with the idea of chasing a dream, is really just a person who lacks concrete ambition. The most skeptical and cynical of us might even say that those who believe in following their passions are simply making excuses for not having a profession that makes them “serious” money. But what about someone who has already been there and done that?
What about someone like Jason Saltzman: the type of person who has experienced making a comfortable salary and has been self-employed while living in one of the country’s sexier cities, like Miami?
“I really didn’t like what I did, getting into the real estate world so I wanted to have more of a sense of purpose and helping other businesses grow,” Saltzman told Bloomberg T.V. in April. “So when we had an opportunity, myself and my partners, to grow in the technology world and do it in Midtown Manhattan, I jumped at it.”
Saltzman is the 34-year old founder of Alley NYC, a Silicon Alley based start-up dedicated to, as the CEO stated, helping other small businesses with one valuable commodity: space.
Alley NYC devotes over 15,000 square feet of Midtown Manhattan co-working office space to young entrepreneurs looking to get their start-ups of the ground. The company offers membership to those interested for around $500 per month and, in return, offers members a unique environment that includes the amenities, atmosphere, connections and resources some might find hard to acquire elsewhere. Furthermore, the entire project is one that Saltzman regards as a totally fulfilling experience, which is a far cry from his description of his days as a marketer.
"It wasn't about the money," Saltzman told Entrepreneur writer Andrea Huspeni this month. "The prospect of working with brilliant minds and establishing a place where everyone can collaborate with one another to build innovative products really made my heart pump."
The fact that Saltzman places so much emphasis away from traditional indicators of success, however, shouldn't suggest that he's had a lack of that with his latest business. According to his interview with Entrepreneur, he has a wait list of over 300 start ups that are trying to take of advantage of the opportunities that Alley NYC provides.
It's not hard to for anyone to understand why either, especially when you consider the fact that Saltzman (who talked in this interview with Beta Beat about how he hated how "cliquey" other co-working spaces around the city were) continuously keeps the attention on his customers.
"I think they all contribute to a collaborative environment in one way or another, but I truly feel that the community we've curated here is the best," he said to Husepni in reference to other businesses like Alley NYC. "We focus on the growth of the businesses that come in here and all of our amenities are focused on that growth. For instance, every Friday, we have a venture capitalist or someone in the entrepreneurial community speak to our members."
Now, with a solid enterprise on his hands that seems to be a hit among entrepreneurs around New York City, one might think expansion would be the next logical step for Alley NYC, much like Startup Institute began setting up new branches after experiencing success in Boston. But Saltzman says he has no plans for such growth, indicating that he is more than content with what's unfolded before him.
“I don't see us growing into other spaces or other cities. Our business model has come to fruition, where we are stabilized and full... The future is to add on more space to the same floor. We plan on upgrading to 35,000 square feet. We really want to get in an environment where things can be created in a collaborative environment. A place where developers, designers and entrepreneurs want to work on projects that are groundbreaking and could potentially change the world.”
There may be other entrepreneurs who view disregarding the prospect of expanding as missing out on a big opportunity. But if keeping a sole focus on facilitating the growth in Big Apple businesses, alongside helping heighten the profile of Silicon Alley in the process, is what Jason Saltzman deems to be his purpose, it'd probably be a safe bet to say that the CEO will be just fine.
Photo via YE