New York: The Next Innovation Hub

Opinion

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newcomers, who are driving the startup success we’re seeing in New York today. Some of the veteran New York entrepreneurs have moved on to their second or third successful ventures, in fact.

Consider these examples, just to name a few:

• Dave Morgan started Real Media in the 90s and TACODA in 2001 and is now on his third startup, Simulmedia

• Ben Wolin was an executive at Beliefnet during the bubble years before co-founding Everyday Health in 2002

• Michael Keriakos who spent time at iVillage and Beliefnet in the 90s, also co-founded Everyday Health in a tough funding environment

• Dennis Crowley, who founded Dodgeball (acquired by Google in 2005), is the co-founder of Foursquare

• Scott Kurnitt who founded About.com in the 90’s recently launched his new startup AdKeeper

(Disclosure: TACODA, iVillage and Everyday Health are Rho Ventures-backed companies.)

Success stories in New York have also fueled the excitement and the entrepreneurial drive. These include companies such as DoubleClick, iVillage, Gilt Groupe, Foursquare, Intralinks and Everyday Health.

The climate in New York today has brought together those critical elements that are fueling entrepreneurial success. Take the new media sector, for example. Traditional media companies such as Time Warner and Hearst and the heavy hitting advertising agencies on Madison Avenue provide an opportunity to recruit employees from traditional media companies that are already embracing new media. New York’s fashion industry also provides a great ecosystem for e-commerce startups. Large, old-line industry leading companies in those sectors are finally embracing and collaborating with startups despite the business model disruption those newcomers create.

While new media has been the primary sector to emerge, there are many others to exploit. Take the financial technology industry, for example. The primary customers for startups in this sector are headquartered in New York. The New York City Investment Fund, in partnership with Accenture, recently launched the FinTech Innovation Lab to help create new financial technology startups in the area. Chief Information Officers of the big investment companies and commercial banks participate in the lab, along with a group of VCs, to help advance cutting-edge technology from early-stage companies.

Yes, New York’s startup community is thriving and growing. However, we must also nurture it if we want it to continue growing. The biggest challenge today is engineering talent. This area is a work in progress, but many companies and associations are working with universities to bring that talent into the city.

The city itself is doing all it can to promote innovation. The New York City Economic Development Corporation, spearheaded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been hosting events and bringing in both venture capitalists and entrepreneurs for ideas about how New York can nurture startups even more.

We are building up the support infrastructure for innovation to success in New York, and if you look at these successes and the excitement around young companies, I believe that New York will be adding “innovation” to its list of staple industries.

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Habib Kairouz is a managing partner of Rho Capital Partners and Rho Ventures as well as a member of the Investment Committees of Rho Canada and Rho Fund Investors. Follow @habibkairouz

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