NYC Start-Up Culture: The Conversation / by Nate Westheimer

If you haven't already, go read Jonah Keegan's post on NYC start-up culture, on the nextNY blog, and the conversation going on the nextNY listserv. My thoughts on the subject are fairly underdeveloped due to my only-recent entry into NYC entrepreneurship world. One thing I try to stray from when talking about the issue is being too Web 2.0 centric in the whole discussion. Not all start-ups are Web 2.0, and so when speaking of entrepreneurship and how to encourage it, saying $15,000 can make anyone's proof of concept up and running both over-simplifies the discussion around entrepreneurial culture and, perhaps more detrimentally, unessesarily distances "our" start-up from the over arching culture of entrepreneurialism which values hard work, creativity and risk-taking.

As far as my experiences starting my company in New York City goes, it's my observation that "start-up culture" is low on the list of entrepreneurial disadvantages. I list the 3 biggest disadvantages I've found as follows:

  • Rent is the biggest expense: I'm talking my rent, the rent of my developer (which I pay for, indirectly). When I up my staff, I'll have office space rent.
  • Bureaucracy costs are 13% of that $15,000. Forming an LLC in New York State (only one of six states with a publishing requirement) and within New York County (the most expensive state to publish in) is not cheap. When all's said and done, your LLC will cost you $2,000.
  • The best Internet Cafes are Starbucks -- and that's not a compliment. Early stage work is mostly alone work, and I would love it if someone would point me in the direction of a "freelancer" friendly cafe. Here's the first place I'll admit a difference in "culture" effects me: cafes here are usually anti-Internet, and those who have WIFI usually don't have plugs or are just plan uncomfortable.

Anyway, I just wanted to get my two cents in on this NYC start-up culture conversation. It's an important one, but let's remember what really make start-ups thrive: work, creativity, and risk.

Bosses with shorts instead of slacks are symbolically linked to this, but not inextricably linked.