The first week of the CEU Business School NYC module had begun with an eye-opening session led by the CEO of Paragraph, a New York based tech startup primarily focusing on publication solutions. Amongst many interesting ideas there were three that particularly caught my attention. The first one was about the shift from ownership to access both on the business side and the customer side. The second was the term „responsive design”, which enables Paragraph to adapt its design to every screen, platform for other people to tell their stories. The third was that there are two kinds of people, the ones that will operate computers and the ones that will be operated by computers. In my view this was a perfect beginning to the module, as all other sessions and presentations in some way provided an insight into how these points can be turned into an opportunity.
The Acceleration Group provided particularly beneficial presentations in order to understand how the New York business scene has been evolving since the recent financial crisis, what kind of new initiatives are taking place in this global hub and most importantly, based on the two previous points, where is the fin-tech revolution taking New York in the foreseeable future? Since the recent financial crisis the decentralization of New York has been in focus as investors and entrepreneurs began to diversify their business activities not only focusing on finance, but newly emerging fields of business as well. The CAPTURE framework was applied during the sessions to systematically analyze the set of resources, infrastructure, user groups and market entry points of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
During the rest of the week our focus was on several incubators where new ventures are formed into successful startup companies. The NYU Incubators stood out as an initiative that is a combination of an accelerator, an incubator and a co-working space. It offers a milestone based program for seed stage startups to successfully implement their ideas and make revenue. At the NYU Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurs Lab yet again we have learnt something fundamentally important about entrepreneurship, namely that it is way better to build culture first and then a business model than the other way around. Also, the stage gates of a startup process have been inverted to become „customer – build – test and iterate – fund” stressing the importance of finding the right pain point in the system and validating the right solution with the right user base before finding the source of funding.
After the recent financial crisis New York has done something that very few if any other cities have attempted to do. As office space became available at lower price due to the crisis the city used this pain point as a PR opportunity to support entrepreneurship. I believe this is one of the most important learnings of the week as it sheds light upon the entrepreneurial culture and spirit of New York, something that other cities, countries should take into consideration.