Ask Mayor Michael Bloomberg what business sector is booming in his city, and he’ll not hesitate to answer – ‘Nearly 500 new technology companies have launched in our city since 2007, creating more than 10,000 jobs.’
What’s the fuss about?
It’s no wonder why budding entrepreneurs are choosing “Silicon Alley” as the place for their new business. New York is becoming the new model for how to foster and nurture startup growth through urban planning and policy.
Why not San Francisco? Why not Silicon Valley? What is the secret to New York City’s startup success? Brad Hargreaves, founding partner of the startup co-working space, General Assembly, says there are two parts to this equation:
- The financial collapse of 2007-2008, and
- Intelligent public planning and policymaking
- 40: the percentage spike of start-up financing in New York City
- 500: the estimated number of new technology companies launched in NYC since 2007
- 10,000: the number of jobs in NYC created by these start-ups
- 52,900: number of people in NYC working in the tech sector
The brightest coders in the business were working in the tech world when the bubble burst. They were either handed a pink slip or they jumped ship, allowing them the freedom to do what they want. This freedom sparked ingenuity, thus creating the startup explosion. Much of this part of our recent history is explained in Fix Young America, and ebook released in May. In this book, Hargreaves writes, “Software programmers are uniquely suited to start new companies. Over the past ten years, the cost — in time and money — of starting a new technology company has dropped significantly. Whether a technology company is developing new products, selling those products in a new way, or helping people live longer and better lives, the first step in a company’s development often involves writing some software — the realm of programmers.”
New Policy and Public Planning
Public leaders wore rose-colored glasses when they looked New York’s economic collapse. Their proactive decisions helped New York, but are not necessarily advisable for other cities to follow. Unless the situation happens on its own, cities are not advised to tank one industry in favor of another. Rather, Hargreaves says the city can focus on policymaking. New York heavily invested in their startup culture. This is an act that other cities can replicate. To do this, Hargreaves recommends cities focus on four steps:
- Nurture and develop startup talent.
- Work towards keeping this talent local.
- Include startup companies with universities and economic development organizations in dialogue for city planning.
- Focus on intelligent city planning that facilitates movement and efficiency.
- Provide and publicize training for the tech genre
- Students are an investment- focus on training people in their 30s and 40s to become coders. This age group is more likely to have roots and less likely to move away.
- Build a “talent pool” from which startups can draw their new hires
- Examine your public transport systems for their effectiveness and efficiency