7 of the best pieces of startup advice from NYC's tech leaders

by Taylor Majewski
February 28, 2017

Successful startup founders often recall moments of clarity when recounting their company’s story, when an idea clicked and changed their entrepreneurial path for the better. In the long run, these lightbulb anecdotes provide valuable learning lessons, which the community-driven tech industry prides itself in sharing with the world.

To that end, we found some of the best pieces of advice New York tech founders have given to budding entrepreneurs over the years. Check them out in the speeches below. 

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“Hard work isn’t enough. You have to be giving your employees a reason and a glimmer of hope that there’s a reason for them doing this.” —Alex Blumberg, CEO and co-founder of Gimlet Media

Podcasting network, Gimlet Media, was founded by former This American Life and Planet Money producer Alex Blumberg and former management consultant Matthew Lieber. As Blumberg chronicled his efforts to launch Gimlet through his podcast Startup, the company gained serious traction as listeners tuned in to hear about the company’s game-changing moments as a business. Now, the show produces over 11 shows, which are downloaded over seven million times per month by listeners from nearly 190 countries worldwide.


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“If you have internally this burning need to do something, to push yourself, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not serving that need, by being too worried about it. Because then you’re not following your true path.”-Miguel McKelvey, co-founder of WeWork 

Coworking giant WeWork was founded Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in 2010, who originally started the company as an eco-friendly coworking experiment in Brooklyn. Since coming to fruition, the company has raised a whopping $1.69 billion funding and is valued at over $10 billion.


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“Don’t be afraid to dream. It does not mean that you should quit your day job. It doesn’t mean that there will be major fears. It certainly doesn’t mean that it won’t be financially scary. It doesn’t mean there won’t be internal struggles. It doesn’t mean there will be a huge divide from what really happens and actually having that dream be met. But dreaming sets yourself in motion to actually go down a path because you chose that road.” —Joanne Wilson, co-founder of Women's Entrepreneur Festival at Gotham Gal Ventures 

Joanne Wilson is an angel investor who bets on companies founded and run by women. She also founded the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival, an annual event in New York City dedicated to supporting a community of women entrepreneurs.


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“Seek out mentors who have been through something before that you haven’t — they have some set of experience and travels that can save you from making a lot of those mistakes.” — David Karp, Founder and CEO of Tumblr 

David Karp began his career as an intern at Frederator Studios, where he built the company’s first blogging platform and internet video network. In 2006, when Karp was 21, Karp began working on a microblogging website, which officially launched as Tumblr in 2007. In 2013, Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo! For $1.1 billion.


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“Create something that your customers are going to love and something that is going to create value for them everyday. And strive to do that across all touchpoints and all moments of interactions which are the moments of truth for you and your brand.” — Ragy Thomas, Founder and Ceo of Sprinklr 

Sprinklr, an enterprise social media management company, was founded by Ragy Thomas in 2009. To date, the company has raised $228.5 million in private investment and has made 10 acquisitions, including TBG Digital, one of Facebook’s largest ad-buying clients.


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“You want to surround yourself with amazing people — people who are inspiring, do great things, and who care about having a positive impact. "People who care about helping others and making the world a better place because that will also rub off on you." — Carter Cleveland, CEO and founder of Artsy 

Carter Cleveland founded Artsy in 2009 with a mission to make the art world accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. The company employs a full suite of technology to offer the world’s largest online database of contemporary art, as well as serve as a comprehensive resource for  learning about and collecting art from the leading galleries, museums, art fairs and auctions all around the world. The company now counts over 160 employees on its team.


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“One of the things we often think about is, what is the frustrations that you’re having. If you actually write down a couple of frustrations everyday, by the end of the week you have a couple dozen and by the end of the month you have scores, and then you can go through those to figure out, is there an opportunity here for us to solve a real problem and if so there might be a great business behind that.” — Neil Blumenthal, co-CEO and co-founder of Warby Parker 

Warby Parker, a direct-to-consumer business for prescription eyewear, was founded by Neil Blumenthal, David Gilboa, Jeffrey Raider and Andrew Hunt in 2010. The company has seen exponential growth since then, scoring a $1.2 billion valuation in 2015.

Know of a company that deserves coverage? Let us know or tweet us @builtinnewyork.

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