There’s plenty to be learned from discussing the stats behind the growth of New York’s Silicon Alley, or mulling over the theories of what spurs innovation in a global city, but the most valuable aspect of this week’s sessions was hearing from the entrepreneurs themselves. These guys are not shy about the immense challenges they’ve had to overcome to make it in NYC, and the great deal of luck that was necessary in addition to their inhuman work schedules. They are open about the lessons they’ve learned from their personal journeys in the start-up world and are extremely willing to lend a hand or a bit of wisdom to those of us new on the scene.
As an entrepreneur in East Africa, though the experience was challenging and unique, I felt I was able to learn the ropes fairly quickly and navigate through the limited ecosystem to create and grow my business. But to do the same in the extremely competitive environment of a global city like New York has always seemed daunting. New York is the big leagues and in order to survive, you must learn to play with the world’s best and brightest.
What has surprised me, however, is how many valuable resources are available in NYC to advise and assist entrepreneurs on their way: everything from city-sponsored incubators to investment-driven accelerators and university programs–not to mention all the serial entrepreneurs actively connecting to others in the start-up community. This city has made a conscious effort to encourage and facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship, and it is evident from the successes of so many that the ecosystem is attracting ambitious talent from around the world and providing the necessary resources to bring worthy products to market.
Yes, there are several million people striving for their piece of the pie in New York City, many of them entrepreneurs. But our meetings this week left me with the sense that there is a vast and influential community pulling for the continued growth of NYC’s start-up and innovation sector. Not only do they provide tools for assistance, but they are, in more than one sense, invested in the success of the entrepreneur.
In short, if you choose to start a business in New York, you are not alone.