DUMBO Events On Wednesday April, 25th

This coming Wednesday, April 25th there are two Venture events in DUMBO.  I’m psyched to be going to both.

The first is D3 – DUMBO Demo Day Hosted by Digital DUMBO & NYU-Poly, Sponsored by Turnstone.  As you can see from the extra long group of hosts and sponsors, the first one of these events was a hit and more affiliates are getting involved.  This event starts at 6:15pm and goes to about 8:30pm.

The companies presenting are:

I think the best part, besides the company presentations, is the networking that goes on afterwards. Unfortunately for me I have to duck out early to get to the second event.

The second is DUMBO Startup Lab Open House Event.  The reason why I’m so concerned about arriving on time is because I’m the guest speaker.  In case you don’t know what DUMBO Startup Lab is, it’s a new co-working space , but with a bunch of programing to help entrepreneurs get their hands around what it takes to build a startup.  In think the aspiration is to be Brooklyn’s version of General Assembly.  This event starts at 8pm and goes until it’s finished.  You can get a free ticket to this event here.

However, in case you can’t make it, I’ve decided to preview my short DSL talk on this blog post.  So here goes:

1) Why NYC is a great place for startups
From my perspective, the inputs required for building an innovation center that fosters startups are the following:

  • Intellectual Capital – a source of creativity, a source of academia, a source of ideas
  • Technological input – access to engineers, data scientists, business development skills
  • Financial Capital – Angels and Venture Capitalists willing to put money to work on good ideas (also continuous flow of funds into the the community on infrastructure)
  • A base of industries/customers that can provide revenue and mentoring to startups
  • An ecosystem of successful companies to support new entrants and be a big brother to newcomers.

I think it is easy to see that New York has all of these inputs in spades.  I’ll spend part of my discussion going over who and what those are.

2) Why Brooklyn is a good area for tech concentration
From my perspective Brooklyn has the right personality to be a tech hub.  Brooklyn is cool and unpretentious.  Brooklyn is cheaper to live in.  Brooklyn is for people who think things out.  Manhattan is for MBAs in suits.  Brooklyn is for smart engineers who realize that what you are wearing doesn’t impact what you are capable of creating.  Brooklyn is chalked full of creative people which are the driving force of innovation.  Brooklyn is younger and has more energy.  Brooklyn has access.  Brooklyn has space.

Honestly you don’t need to be told why Brooklyn is the right place, because intuitively you know. I know I do.

3) What I think we need to do to foster the environment
Lately I’ve been telling this to anyone who would listen.  I think we could benefit from the following:

  • Some centralized resources (ex.  job board, a blog roll of startups in DUMBO, a community calendar).  I’d put this all in the same place.  I’d let everyone contribute to it in a controlled fashion.  I publicize the heck out of it.  I think that if you want to attract people here, then they have to know that there is a ‘here’ here.  People from Philly and Boston and Austin, kinda have a sense that Brooklyn is a cool place to go to start a company, but they don’t know how to get plugged in.  In general there should be a resource to help them.
  • A political effort of some type.  Guys like our Mayor, Mike Bloomberg (and Rachel Sterne in his office) and our Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, etc they want a thriving tech community.  They want to build a perpetual startup ecosystem.  Someone has to let them know what we need.  We need space zoned and tax configured for technology companies.  We need cutting edge, high-speed, fat pipes with no down time into these buildings so startups can access Amazon’s or Joyent’s or Rackable’s or whoever’s cloud.  We need good take-out.  We need good public transportation in.  If we want people to come we need to work with our elected officials to lower the barriers to entry.
  • More homegrown sources of capital.  Yes, Manhattan VCs invest here.  There’s even a Brooklyn VC.  But I think we need to show greater commitment.  We need to ‘eat our own dog food’.  Brooklyn should have it’s own source of capital for investment is startups.  Whether it’s a founders fund, or a city fund, or a privately run Brooklyn focused fund – there needs to be more than there is.  Capital is an important input.  I think we could use more.

4) Specifically what I like to invest in and what I look for
This is going to be a little plug for me and RTP Ventures. I’ll spare you the details for now, but I’d really like to see is some deeper tech.  I’m super psyched about the first day trading results and valuation of Splunk.  Maybe the only thing better was if Splunk was in Brooklyn.  I’ll get into it more on Wednesday.

Hope to see you there.