Spring Startup Fever

I said earlier this week that in addition to spring fever in NYC, we have startup fever. There is so much good stuff happening in NYC right now.

I'm not talking about fundings and such. The financial markets come and go. Boom today bust tomorrow.

I'm talking about building a foundation that will allow the tech sector in NYC to survive these booms and busts and thrive for the long term. The foundation comes from great programs like Techstars, InSITE, HackNY, PairUp, Founder Labs, etc, etc.

Today I'd like to talk about a couple more great programs happening in NYC this spring and summer.

Last summer, SeedStart ran an accelerator program in NYC that produced a number of interesting startups. This summer, they are doing another program but it will be focused on emerging media companies. The program is called SeedStart Media and has big media companies like AOL, Hearst, News Corp, MTV, NY Times, Time Warner, and a bunch more involved as corporate partners. Here are some details from their website:

We are inviting technology companies willing to spend the summer in New York City that are concentrating on [the media industry] to apply to SeedStart. The program will give up to 10 companies $20,000, office space, and time in exchange for a small piece of equity (5%). At the end of the 12 weeks, SeedStart features an investor day where companies will have the opportunity to present to seed and early stage investors as well as potential partners and customers.


Info session: March 29th at 7pm, 160 Varick St. 12th floor, New York, NY.

All mentors, participating corporations, & SeedStart Media applicants are invited to attend.

Please RSVP at [email protected]

Another big problem we have in NYC tech is funneling top college graduates into the startup sector. Very few tech companies have the size and scale to run proper college recruiting programs. So the sector needs to cooperate and form recruiting efforts together. One such event is happening soon.

The second annual NYC Startup Job Fair is happening at AOL's headquarters on Friday April 8th. It will be engineers only from 1pm to 2:30pm and then everyone from 2:30pm to 5pm. We have encouraged our portfolio companies to attend and I am certain that some of them will. The list of participating companies (as of now) is here. If you are graduating from college or grad school this spring and want to join a startup, you should seriously consider showing up at AOL on Friday April 8th.

These are just two of the many great programs going on in NYC right now. We are building a fantastic ecosystem and I am so excited to see this happening.

#NYC#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. andyswan

    It’s happening everywhere.Application layer access for the masses + high unemployment = boom/bubble depending on point of view.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. i don’t mean to belittle what is happening elsewhere. i am just a NYC liver/lover/booster. it is my home and one of the great passions of my life

      1. andyswan

        Didn’t take it that way. Love what’s happening in NYC—well deserved.

      2. Laurent Courtines

        Right on Fred! We need what would be the equivalent of Ed Koch for technology. A cheerleader and “hey, howwedoin'” guy for the city. There is so much room for growth. I think what is needed is a strong tech school in the city. We’ve got great design resources, but its the coders we’re missing.

        1. fredwilson

          we are working on that on multiple frontsbuilding up the engineering programs at Columbia and NYU and connecting themto the startup/tech sceneand the RFEI is likely to bring top engineering programs from outside NYCinto the city

    2. Denim Smith

      Boom. + born digitals entering the workforce across all industries and disrupting the status quo just from their natural knowledge base in all things tech and their experience using tech in all facets of life. I for one cannot wait until NYC takes the lead on high tech, smart, and green real estate and retrofits + builds the high tech metropolis of the future. Real estate is still dominated by older men so it will take a while. Diversity always wins and NYC will be a significant generator of world changing tech across all industries – just like you never count out the USA, never count out New Yorkers.

  2. DGentry

    In the last year I’ve heard about more new startups in NYC than in the two years before it combined. Network effects.

    1. fredwilson

      snowball going down the hill

    2. falicon

      You should move the family out there too…Google has great NYC offices too you know ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. Mark Essel

        Denny’s got a great location for a fam out in SV in the middle of an incredible tech hub. Living near a nice park in NY is very expensive. Weather is no comparison, too hot/humid in the summer, and winter weather leaves much to be desired here (no fun mountains by me). The Caltrain and public transportation is much nicer and cheaper on the west coast.Driving anywhere around here takes forever (I’m trapped on LI, NYC is one massive toll and time trap), while a nice ride into the mountains or Red Wood forests on the west coast is only a few hours tops. I like the idea of my future kids having open natural surroundings to explore, not a concrete jungle. Driving distance to a city like Manhattan is fine, but living in one would be weird. That said there are people density bonuses to living in NY. Startups are a four letter word on LI.

        1. falicon

          Well where I live in NJ is only about 45 minutes to the city…but otherwise is small town living thru-and-thru! I put my time in on LI as well so I know where you are coming from…but that’s one of the amazingly great things about the NYC area…there’s something that fits EVERYONE’s preferences. =)

          1. Mark Essel

            I’d prefer being on your side of Manhattan for road trips.Great hiking in Northern Jersey. It get’s a few degrees warmer, and we can meet up for a good walk.

          2. falicon

            two houses on my block are just about to go up for sale…both will be great deals (the housing market is *way* down out here right now)…and one of them even has an in-ground pool (so my kids would LOVE you). =D

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  3. Greg Neufeld

    Keep ’em coming, I say. How are startups like mine supposed to attract this new talent when Google keeps putting out APB’s for Android dev’s at compensation packages that are impossible to compete with?I think we need to do a better job of communicating our vision as startups, and state our case for why we’re worth more hours and less money…wait, what is that case again?Oh right – molding the future of the consumer web, the mobile ecosystem, and New York F’ing City!

    1. CliffElam

      Who wants to go work for Google now?That would be like going to work for SAP to try to change Enterprise Software.Or going to work for SFDC to create a new paradigm in SaaS.-XC

    2. A techie

      It’s tough hiring engineers for startups these days. I hear you, but you should also look at it from an engineer’s point of view. I don’t know what your company does nor am I going to talk about it in particular but it gets me thinking:It seems nobody wants to acknowledge supply and demand. Not every startup will get the best developers (or any).The general impression I get about the mentality surrounding the hiring of engineers is that people want to pay them based on intrinsic value instead of market value. There’s no consideration for how much they add to the company’s bottom line, or offering them more stock options. Stock options are also granted based on some rigid percentage scale that most people adhere to without any considerations. As an analogy, consider that when a landlord installs a $500 dishwasher in the kitchen of an apartment, the market determines that the dishwasher is actually worth $5000 over the course of a few years, way above its intrinsic value and the value of labor combined.When demand for developers goes up, you either have to give them more salary or proportionally a lot more shares, or both. But everyone else who has a financial stake doesn’t want to admit to the vagarities of supply and demand and hand over their shares in order to keep the whole entity moving forward.Netflix is one of the few companies that completely accepts the situation. At least on paper, in their famous company manual. They explain they mark their salaries to market, both up or down, as needed to keep each employee at a high enough percentile so the employees won’t randomly switch companies just to get a raise.And yes, marketing your company better will shift that supply demand curve in your favor! Both by attracting the talent and by attracting more money from VCs to cover the increased costs of that talent.Working for Google is a viable alternative for some people because the 20% time opportunity is equivalent to a startup in some respects (assuming they’re imposing enough to not lose their 20% time to their manager).As for “causes”, nobody is going to give up part of their salary for your company’s “cause” unless they have strong ownership (read, shares!). That salary difference determines how quickly they get to a strong enough financial situation to start their own company!If the increased cost of an engineer is not covered by the added value to the company, the company does not have a strong enough proposition to the world.

      1. JLM

        Everything you say is absolutely correct and well crafted. Well played.The world is made of a wide of swath of activities and while a company like Netflix may have a public utterance their actual practices may vary quite a bit.Employees are always confused by the average v the very best. Sure there is a calculable average but no employee ever came in and said — “Hey, Boss, I want to receive the average pay.”Every worker wants to be considered exceptional. Even when they are clearly not exceptional.The exceptional, on the other hand, are worth way more than the right end of the bell curve — they are worth whatever they can negotiate. And why not?We tend to be a bit uni-dimensional when it comes to compensation — salary, benefits, performance bonuses, profit sharing, short term incentives, long term incentives, custom tailored benefits are all part of the overall mix.We allow ourselves to focus primarily on salary.Companies have to be clever when fashioning their entire program and have to be one step ahead of the employee but most of all they have to engage and listen.

        1. SF

          “Every worker wants to be considered exceptional. Even when they are clearly not exceptional.”There is a difference between wanted to be considered exceptional and an individual. Plenty of people do not consider themselves exceptional and do not think others will consider them as such. Everyone wants to be treated like an individual, and a human being – with some respect for their feelings, dignity, and health.

          1. JLM

            Fair play.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          “We tend to be a bit uni-dimensional when it comes to compensation…”How true.And yet the reality is that many people understandably think of their compensation in terms of cash (salary, stock) and see the other as gravy…well, until you try to take that gravy away or alter it in some way.Your points about engaging and listening really are at the crux of it all. That, and communicating. Over-communicating. At some levels within the organization, you have to help the employees interpret how truly great their compensation and benefits plan is…that is, if it truly is great.

        3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      2. Donna Brewington White

        You raise some really, really good points.The point about salaries needing to reflect market dynamics of supply and demand is critical especially in hiring for tech talent. It may create internal inequity and be completely unfair and out of sync, but it is a reality.Added to this reality is that people do take their cues about how much value a company places on a job (and therefore an employee) from how much the job is paying.I’m not saying that it is impossible to compete on other levels and I’ve seen it happen, but it is hard work and has to be a highly intentional effort. Even then, the compensation being offered cannot be completely out of whack with what the market requires.As someone who loves startups, this is one problem that I wish I could make go away.

  4. kidmercury

    “I’m talking about building a foundation that will allow the tech sector in NYC to survive these booms and busts and thrive for the long term.”the only way to build a stable foundation is to have a stable economy with stable financial markets. the idea that stable economic growth can occur in a world of instable financial markets, particularly in a finance-driven economy like the united states, is false and has been proven as such given the instability of the US economy over the past ten years. there is no way to ignore the larger problems, and they will destroy everything (as they are already in the process of doing) until they are dealt with.

    1. mrcai

      That. I’m not wishing to troll but why are these programs immune to a bubble?”The foundation comes from great programs like Techstars, InSITE, HackNY, PairUp, Founder Labs”

    2. fredwilson

      i don’t think that’s rightpeople still need to live and eat and work no matter what

      1. kidmercury

        exactly. and it becomes a lot harder to live and eat and work when the cost of living keeps going up. and what causes the bubble also causes rising cost of living. the bubble is going to keep robbing people so there are no customers left to buy the products these companies create. the only way to create economic growth is to solve the real problem — government and money supply. and of course what is the exit model for these companies? it is still a part of the wall st food chain and so it is still very much related to the bubble/theft system. real growth requires solving the real underlying problems.

  5. AlexHorn

    Looking forward to seeing everyone at the 2nd Annual NYC Startup Job Fair.

  6. Luke Toland

    So many of the startup programs seem to cater heavily towards tech, engineering and the mobile space. If you’re an entrepreneur doing something outside these areas, be it finance, marketing or something altogether different, I get the sense there’s not nearly as many incubators, accelerators or VCs that are interested in nurturing those ideas.

    1. Mark Birch

      You are right that most are geared to technology, but that is changing as well. I posted a list of those start-up incubators in NYC across various industries:http://birch.co/post/234936

    2. fredwilson

      founder labs might be the right thing for that kind of person

  7. Antonio Tedesco

    Is accelerator program nichification the next logical step or is SeedStart Media only a NYC/media related phenomenon?I’m from Philadelphia home of DreamIT (which also launched in NYC). Wondering if we’ll see other niche accelerators.

    1. Mark Birch

      Yes, we will see more niche accelerators as a competitive counter to the broad horizontally focused programs like Y-combinator and TechStars. These niche programs also fill a huge need in the market for deeper industry knowledge.Already we have financial tech (FinTech Innovation Lab), women entrepreneurs (Astia), education technology (Startl), etc. I posted a list of them in NYC, and I think this is just the beginning: http://birch.co/post/370597

      1. fredwilson

        startl is a great program for entrepreneurs working in .edu

    2. fredwilson

      verticalization is a natural next step in this sectorstartl focuses on .edu entrepreneursand there is also the fintech accelerator program in NYCi blogged about that recentlyhttp://www.avc.com/a_vc/201…

  8. CliffElam

    I think if you can get someone to do a startup early in their career when the opportunity cost is low (and in today’s economy it might be 0) then they’ll be much more likely to do more of them. My wife, who got her Ph.D. studying international entrepreneurship, says so too.I say working at a startup is like getting a tattoo someplace non-obvious – nobody at Giganti-Co may know you have it, but it affects your internal attitude in meetings.-XC

    1. JLM

      One of the great analogies of all time. Tattoo!



  9. Guest

    It’s a nice program to be in. Just came back from a startup meeting. Everyone I know seems to rais a baby.

  10. Jeff Sepp

    The NYU New Venture Competition and Entrepreneurship classes like Lawrence Lenihan’s “Ready, Aim, Fire” are also doing alot to promote startups at the Undergrad Level.Our co-founder and algorithm designer is still a junior at NYU.

  11. William Mougayar

    Definitely on the uptick quantitatively (we already saw the official VC investment reports), but also from the # of stories in the media about NYC Tech, here’s a telling graph trending the tweets from @nyctechnews showing the trend is UP http://plixi.com/p/86750965

    1. Tereza

      nice chart, william!

  12. Ryan Frazier

    Glad to hear the startup environment in NYC is booming!Incubator and accelerator programs like you mentioned can be some of the most important venture catalysts out there. Step one in nurturing a visionary is simply finding them. Once you’ve found them you can start to surround them with a supporting cast and environment that complements them.The Startup Job Fair also sounds like it is going to be a great program. If Founding teams can grab students straight out of college they can get talent that typically doesn’t have the financial and personal commitments that keep many would-bes out of the game. The Founding team also has the opportunity to mold the hire to their liking without corporate thinking clouding their decision making. The founding team should also be able to instill their passion and vision so that it doesn’t just feel like they are working for a startup, but that they are working for their startup.Ryan

  13. Jevon

    I was thinking about the Color announcement yesterday.I’m tired of people being focused on the guys who raise big money. It’s GREAT that those $ are out there to back growth and new tech, but the really exciting thing that is happening now is that builders (developers) are getting excited about startups.And not in the “side project” way,. but in the “change the world way”.That’s what’s interesting,. that is what is new.Was there ever a better time to be something than being a developer or product/startup guy/girl today?

    1. JLM

      This is one of the “easiest” times in the history of America. You should have been around during the draft when every decision you made was disciplined by that threat.Every generation is blessed with it being the best and worst of times.No question today is one of the most interesting times in the history of the world.And still we are trying like hell to screw it up.Enjoy your times and make the most of them. Don’t wake up and be 50 and say — damn I should have…On the other hand, one can can do this stuff forever until you feel the dirt hitting your face and then I would still try to get a second opinion.

      1. David Semeria

        Gotcha!No question today is one of the most interesting times in the history of the world.That’s a tautology, JLM – it was true yesterday, it will be true tomorrow and it was true when the first bug crawled out of the primordial soup.Consider this payback for nailing me on “sin qua non” ๐Ÿ˜‰

        1. JLM

          I freely admit to being a Tautologist (I think that is correct?) though my Mother often warned me it would make hair grow on the bottom of my feet.Hope all is well in your world.I am in the mountains watching the peaceful snow fall, my legs are burning from skiing all morning, it is 90F in ATX and tonight my beloved Carolina Tarheels vie for their next step on the Road to the Final Four.And, now I find out I am just a Tautologist. Is this a great world or what?Well, except, that we have apparently started yet another war. Best wishes.

          1. David Semeria

            Thanks for the well wishes JLM, and I reply in kind.It’s hard to split hairs when you’re watching the snow softly falling and you’ve got that beautiful burning sensation from a hard day’s skiing.We can debate how many angels can fit on a pinhead another time…

          2. Mark Essel

            Nothing beats a great day of exercise, and a nice relaxing meal with family. Great juxtaposition of snowy mountains to 90 in Tx.

  14. ShanaC

    I did the nyc startup job fair last year. It was mostly a great experience, not only did I see a lot of what was going on, it gave me a good overview for future skills needed.

  15. Matthew Crossett

    Thanks for the great article – I run a blog for startups and entrepreneurs and would love to hear your thoughts! If you ever want to link up sometime over GoToMeeting to talk about a possible collaborative article, let me know!http://takecareof.biz

  16. JLM

    What’s happening today with startups whether in NYC or ATX or in your hometown is a manifestation of a rapidly changing environment in business. There are huge businesses and small businesses which will provide employment to the intellectual elite and the aspiring intellectual elite.The differences between big and small companies and the elements of risk are the drivers in some fashion of the outcomes.Don’t wait until you are 35, have a wife, mortgage, a couple of bambinos and a “standard” of living to take a risk on yourself, or with others or on someone else. Take those risks before you know better.Don’t kid yourself — while everybody needs a job, this has absolutely nothing to do w/ unemployment as it is manifested on the labor statistics. These are not the kind of folks who end up unemployed in a classic nose counting frame of reference.This is being done without government assistance and the best one can hope for is government moving its shadow off the marketplace.It also says something about the untapped potential of America. The ultimate struggle will be our top 5% v the world’s top 5% — not the averages. Our top 5% is doing pretty damn well.

    1. kidmercury

      it is being done with government assistance. govt/fed prints money, it goes to goldman, jp morgan, trickles down from there. they look for where to invest, interent is one obvious growth spot, so all this capital goes flooding into the internet. that’s what distorts valuations and turns a healthy bull market into an irrational, irresponsible bubble. this will ultimately result in A LOT of wasted resources, inefficient usage of capital, as bubbles always do. more detrimentally, this devalues the dollar and sends cost of living up. facebook can be worth 85 billion or whatever the latest number is, but only if gas goes to $4 and beyond. “our” top 5% does so well because they are subsidized by the rest of the world.

      1. JLM

        You know I completely agree with you from a macro perspective.Hell, I think the current administration has subbed the Treasury function to Goldman.I cannot agree with you on the top 5% being subsidized by the rest of the world. They are arguably fully subsidized but it costs so little to do it, the American taxpayer has picked up the bill.We are just on the verge of the big head fake in which inflation rears its ugly head to allow all dollars to be repaid w/ quarters.

        1. kidmercury

          because the dollar is the world reserve currency, america gets toexport its inflation. the IMF recently issued a paper, you can find itfor free on the internet by searching for “enhancing internationalmonetary stability — a role for the SDR?” — the title of the paper.the paper argues a new world reserve currency may be needed and thatone of hte problems with the existing reserve currency, the US dollar,is that the US gets to export its inflation to other countries. thismeans facebook at 85 billion is not paid for just by americans paying$4+ for gas, but also by egyptians and chinese paying more than 40% oftheir income for food. this is the real reason why the world is poorand getting poorer, outside of a tiny elite in america.this will all be apparent within a couple years. the dollar is on itslast legs, unable to rally even in the face of massive crises in japanand the middle east. once the dollar’s death is complete then americadoesn’t get to export its inflation anymore and all of this will beobvious.

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            Re the Chinese… an interesting study found among the 3 classes, the Agrarian are prone to spontaneously splurge. This means there is a market in China and why my team is looking at it. That plus the savings discipline by all 3 classes is worth the extra effort.Re the $85 billion Fb… it is a matter of choice. I will tell you (and all others) that banking on Fb ruling 5 yrs. from now just may offer a surprise.On that note, just spending money to make money can always bite the hand of those not careful.

          2. Mark Essel

            Classic KM fiscal policy. I wonder what the US would be like with you as the chief of the Fed. Far more interesting at least

        2. Dave W Baldwin

          Yes, inflation has been staring at US and it will happen.

        3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      2. Dave W Baldwin

        For the reasons you spot in your reply is why some of us are working to produce engines that will have a true impact enabling everyone to produce more in available time. That will enable true growth.

        1. kidmercury

          yes, definitely. some of the small, independent farmers are some of myfavorite people (unfortunately many are under attack by thebureaucrats at the USDA). i know there is lots of genuine innnovationin america and the world, humans are innately innovative in myopinion. it is just when the big bully known as government steps inand starts stealing and hindering innovation, that is what spoils thefun. i think we are seeing more and more people wake up, many of hteobama supporters have become disenchanted. the more society wakes upand fixes this parasite leeching off us the more we can all prosper inmy opinion.

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            Yes. Keeping on the ‘farmer’ analogy, it is a matter of looking at more bang for the buck. Some of the projects/funding I’ve seen over the past half year make me think there’s not much difference between private/public.As JLM implies, this is a great age of opportunity…and as people learn to spend money, they will have more to innovate forward.We just need to be careful over the next couple of years where envy is all that matters in the election… hopefully backbone is appreciated. Jury still out.

  17. MickSavant

    What options exist today for folks (like me) who are recent college grads but are levered up on student debt and need to collect a paycheck through the idea, prototype, and feasibility analysis phase of a start up?I’d love to submit an application for one of these programs but I would not be able to commit to the program. What (if any) “nights and weekends MBA” corollaries exist for start up incubation?

    1. Czarina Walker

      Ryan, look for a Startup Weekend near you. There is one in my area soon. If you are on twitter you can follow @swbtr to see an example. (Note: if interested, use code startuptech for a 25% discount on the reg fee). Best wishes!



  18. Mike Kijewski

    There is nothing more exciting than watching a community grow as a result of your efforts. You and USV should be really proud of the influence you’ve had on the NYC tech scene.

    1. fredwilson

      Thank you

  19. apartmentsdirect

    They report they mark their salaries to market, both up or down, as needed to keep each worker at a high percentile so the workers won’t randomly switch companies to get a raise.villas in lanzarote

  20. Reuben

    I have been working on a startup in the media space… Given the big companies behind the NYC Seed Start Media program this could be a very good fit for my startup – but I have across a bunch of negative feedback about the NYC SeedStart program. So I am curious to know whether anyone here has vetted this program or had any direct experience with them? Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. fredwilson

      What kind of negative feedback have you heard?

      1. Reuben

        Eric – Thanks for your response. I am considering attending the orientation, but with the application deadline only two days later things you don’t have too much time. BTW – did their demo day live up to your expectations?Fred – The negative feedback I came across was a recent Hacker News post (which I just learned was flagged and removed) titled “Friend’s don’t let friends apply to NYC Seed,” there is also a some criticisms on TheFunded.com under NYC Seed. Eric’s response cleared up a bunch of things though.

    2. Eric

      Our team was part of SeedStart 2010. Every week was packed with mentoring sessions (each team was assigned a primary mentor and had regular access to all participating mentors), dinners with successful entrepreneurs, legal advice, and practice pitches with plenty of feedback. It would help if we had access to potential customers, but I recognize that this is really hard to do in a horizontal, cross industry program; thus vertical orientation coupled with customer access this year.ย The jury is still out on whether or not we are going to ‘make’ it, but SeedStart had without a doubt increased our chances. I can not ask for much more than that.If you want to know more, I encourage you to come to the orientation on March 29, and I would be happy to chat.Best of luckEricCo-founder, Risktail

  21. Ravi Mishra

    Those are nice initiatives, but to somehow think any/all of them will outline the boom/bust cycle is wishful at best. They’re mostly built on the back of the kind of discretionary spending from VCs and tech companies, and the ones that aren’t are basically the kind of meet up groups that don’t produce much when the economy is stagnant.Hope I’m wrong.

  22. Morgan Linton

    SeedStart sounds fantastic! Is there anything like this in Southern California?

  23. awaldstein

    FredI just returned from SF and LA meeting with VC friends and clients. The conversations always ended up talking about what is happening here in NYC.First…the positive statements about you personally Fred as someone who has used their success to pave a path for a new way of approaching the biz and for your dedication to the city, were numerous and sincere. Congrats on a rep well deserved.And second, the notice of the west coast VCs of what is going on here, with comparisons between Williamsburg and SoMa were top of mind.NY is turning a big corner. Great to part of it.

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for this arnold. it feels good.

  24. paramendra

    Good stuff.

  25. 24hoursplumber

    It is when the giant bully known as government steps in and starts stealing and delaying innovation, that is what spoils the fun.

  26. Michael Morgenstern

    I’m not a finance person but if Seedstart is offering about $30k for companies in exchange for 5%, doesn’t that mean they value the company’s potential at about $600k? Not so high…

  27. Scott Amenta

    Hey All,The location for NYC SeedStart Media info session has been moved to:NYU Kaufman Management CenterCantor Boardroom, 11th floor44 W 4th St, New York, NYTuesday, March 29, 2011 @ 7pmEmail [email protected] to RSVP