We heart NYC: Why 5 tech founders chose to launch in the city

by Liz Warren
September 28, 2017

New Yorkers are notorious for thinking the city is the center of the universe — and, well, they’re not wrong. After all, NYC attracts people from all walks of life and is home to some of the most innovative minds in the world. We decided to ask local founders why they chose NYC of all cities to launch their startups, and almost everyone we spoke with called out one specific perk: the talent.

 

 

X.ai is the startup that created Amy, the virtual personal assistant. When you need to schedule a meeting, you no longer have to grapple with the back and forth of finding a time and day that works for every guest — Amy’s got it covered. Users just send her an email asking to coordinate, and she takes it from there. CEO Dennis Mortensen explained why NYC is the best place for a service like this.

What made you choose NYC for your company?

Entrepreneurs often choose a city either to be close to their customers or to find great talent. Our service can be used by anyone, regardless of where they’re based, so we chose NYC for the amazing array of data science and engineering talent.

In what ways has being in NYC helped your company thrive?

The city really attracts the best talent in the country — and perhaps even the world. NYC is so attractive to people that they’ll come from all over to live here. This has been paramount to our success. No matter how great your idea or how much money you raise in funding, none of it really matters if you can’t assemble a good team around you.

What excites you most about the NYC tech ecosystem and its future?

I think I’m biased here, but I believe that the willingness to collaborate in NYC is unlike any other city. It seems every startup wants to see their neighbors succeed so the city can come out on top. I truly think NYC will beat out Silicon Valley as the tech destination in the near future because of this, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

 

 

 

Attune is an NYC-based company helping small businesses find the right insurance. The company created a platform that asks fewer questions than the average insurance questionnaire and aggregates data on its own. From there, it offers a quote that includes all of the coverage the small business needs. CEO James Hobson explained why NYC, of all cities, is the right place for insurtech.

What made you choose NYC for your company?

New York has all of the right talent needed to build a disruptive company in a single location. My experience as the COO of OnDeck showed me that some of the best data science and technical talent calls New York home.

In what ways has being in NYC helped your company thrive?

NYC is home to many major financial and insurance companies. The ability to marry the rich community of technical talent in NYC with thought leaders from finance and insurance companies is a recipe for success.

What excites you most about the NYC tech ecosystem and its future?

The Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island guarantees that NYC will continue to remain one of the premier cities for technical talent and thought leadership.

 

 

 

Kinnek is a platform that connects small businesses with the suppliers they need to be successful. Users explain what they’re looking for, and the service provides them with a few different quotes. CEO and co-founder Karthik Sridharan told us about the endless opportunities the company has as a result of being based in NYC.

What made you choose NYC for your company?

My co-founder and I love New York — the energy of the city and the diversity of the population have always been motivational to us. We had lived in New York for years before starting Kinnek, so we knew that we'd be able to draw upon our networks here for hiring much more effectively than we would in the Bay Area or any other part of the country. Also, the investors we were speaking with would often travel to the city on a regular basis and had other NYC portfolio companies, so that gave us further validation.

In what ways has being in NYC helped your company thrive?

What I love most about New York is the diversity of people. The Bay Area often feels like a monoculture — everywhere you go, people are talking about tech. While some people enjoy this, I personally feel that it's more energizing and healthy to be in an environment where you're exposed to people from all different fields. NYC feels like the capital of the world and brings together experts in so many different areas, all in a beautiful melting pot. It's difficult to find any other place on earth that can rival NYC in that way. In addition, New York's density has been amazing for us — it helps us hire faster and network with others in the tech community more easily. While people like to refer to the Bay Area as a monolithic entity, the realities of geography and transportation make it true that if someone is based in Redwood City and you're based in Soma, it's unlikely you'll be meeting each other anytime soon. In NYC, however, having meetings with four or five people in a day is easy.

What excites you most about the NYC tech ecosystem and its future?

When we first started Kinnek in early 2012, the New York tech ecosystem was not as robust as it is now. It was difficult to find other early stage startups and entrepreneurs to network with, and the community was quite dispersed. Fast forward five years, and the NYC ecosystem is virtually unrecognizable to me. It no longer feels like New York is playing second fiddle to anyone — the tech world here has a true sense of confidence and scale. This gives me a lot of optimism about the future of our tech ecosystem. Given NYC's penchant for doing things in a larger-than-life sort of way, I can't wait to see how the ecosystem continues to evolve.

 

 

 

IEX group sought out to create its own stock exchange in 2012, and it has steadily grown ever since. The company levels the playing field for investors by creating transparency and protection that helps companies align with their shareholders. COO John Schwall talks about launching in NYC as a way to go straight to the epicenter of fintech.

What made you choose NYC for your company?

New York City is the epicenter of the global financial system. It was an obvious decision for us, as a new stock exchange, to be in the same place as so many of our partners. We have the opportunity to meet with many investors and brokers in person regularly, which helps us build the strong relationships that are so important to our business.

In what ways has being in NYC helped your company thrive?

NYC has been the perfect environment for building a passionate, intelligent and diverse team at IEX, drawing on talent from inside and outside of finance and fintech. Plus, the city is home to an unparalleled pool of highly educated professionals who understand the stock market — and are driven to make it better. And by living and working in New York, our employees are exposed to a wide range of industries, perspectives and ideas that keep us thinking in fresh, new ways.

What excites you most about the NYC tech ecosystem and its future?

For many industries — from finance to media to fashion — New York is where the most interesting work happens. That’s cultivated a vibrant exchange of ideas, in which you see people with deep expertise from different industries collaborating and challenging the status quo. I only see that trend of disruption accelerating here in New York.

 

 

 

Founded by engineers, Hyperscience is working to automate enterprise workflows that bog down employees. Using artificial intelligence, the technology takes over processes so teams can focus on bigger projects. CEO and co-founder Peter Brodsky told us why NYC is perfect for a company like his.

What made you choose NYC for your company?

HyperScience is focused on serving finance, healthcare, insurance and government. That cross section of industries makes NYC the most logical place to be headquartered.

In what ways has being in NYC helped your company thrive?

Outside of being in our customers’ back (and front) yards, the lower density of machine learning companies in NYC means we’re able to attract the best talent in the city.

What excites you most about the NYC tech ecosystem and its future?

While geography still matters in all sorts of ways, what really excites me about the future is that geography will matter less. As is, HyperScience is a multinational company with a global customer base.

 

 

Images via Shutterstock and featured companies.

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

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