WEEK 1 BLOG (RICH KENNEY)
The first week of the NY module has been a practical mix of class room lectures, local tec entrepreneurs and a few onsite visits to incubators as well as visits to a law firm and programming institute (education). These experiences have helped understand how New York has successfully repositioned itself on the global tec scene and make itself more competitive economically (at same time strengthening the social fabric of the city). Essentially, this new spirit of NY is the tide that lifts all boats and it has profound implications for other cities.
The lectures from Alejandro were helpful in conceptualizing (framework)—just one element—how NY has “remodeled” itself. In particular, Alejandro introduced: the “innovation framework”; how companies ought to scale up (skills, infrastructure, capital, contacts, etc.); what skills people need to participate in the new “ecosystem”; and what the authorities need to do to ensure their citizens can and will continue to reap the benefits of innovation fever in NY (i.e., mass-broadband).
The local tec entrepreneurs provided insight in how they built their firms. Although they had different stories about starting their companies, I found that the factors to success were similar but nonetheless very interesting to hear. And I think it was good to hear from Antonio just how ruthless you got to be to succeed as an entrepreneur or small business (academics and grades only go so far).
Concerning the incubators, I found them exceptional. Three things here:
• NY—city can work with or help the community (jobs & growth) and private enterprise (making them competitive or turning them into viable businesses). I.e., making the excess supply of office space available and being supportive of the incubator idea.
• NYU—playing a crucial role in providing expertise or ideas to companies, so that they are more viable.
• Companies—that they are willing to take direction from others (and this touches on what the entrepreneurs mentioned) and put their egos aside.
Overall, what’s important here is that all these actors can work together and be successful.
As for the visit to the law firm and General Assembly, both were interesting from a greater common good perspective. For instance, the law firm shed light on how they seek justice against unscrupulous business practices under the FCPA or importance of having integrity intertwined within business practices. On the other hand, the General Assembly allowed us to see a threat to traditional education (4 yr. degree not so relevant) and the role they are playing to ensure that people gain the skills to participate in NY’s high tec sector.
Lastly, I think it’s important to see these experiences from not just a business perspective but also from a social perspective. NY is a city that has suffered a lot from economic and social hardships (crime, generational poverty, weak education, affordability, etc.), and NY’s efforts to “remodel” itself is a good example of how a city and private enterprises can work together to strengthen the social fabric of a city without being over reliant on government handouts. Other cities should take note of this.