Thursday, May 17, 2012

NYU-Poly Varick Street Incubator

I am sitting in a smoothly moving Amtrak between NY and Boston and it is a great time to share what I saw during my visit in the Varick Street incubator, NY. Beside offering space for startups, they do very similar things as we do in eClub. What is the difference: they are much more experienced, they have accumulated lot of know-how, they have developed the startup ecosystem with lawyers, mentors etc. Great place to learn how to proceed with eClub.

I have met with Steven who is running the NYU-Poly Varick Street Incubator. The incubator shortens the time from innovation to impact, and provides the guidance, expertise, and resources that start-ups need to grow into scalable ventures that bring economic growth to the greater New York area. Steven is running the incubator for eight years. They have two locations and all together they provide space and services for about 30 companies. I have visited the Varick Street part. The space is large and cheap and this is the main differentiators between the university and other pro profit incubators. One workstation place costs $400 a months. They allocate astonishing 100 square feet (10 square meters)  per person. The incubator was launched by the NYU-Poly and the City of New York. The initial grant was only $100K. The university does not take any equity in the companies, but still financially supports the whole operation. I have asked Steven why the university is not taking share. The situation is surprisingly very similar to our university. It seems to be too complicated to deal with university, we just operate as non-profit organization and it works well. Varick Street has many more companies requesting to joint than they can accommodate and this is their success metric. They also have to search for the industrial partners in the future to secure the future funding ads Steven. Very similar to eClub, we are also dependent on the industrial support.

As well as eClub they organize competitions. One of the very interesting forms is a short competition lasting for one week only. It is organized for students with one condition, there have to be students with technical as well as with business background in each of the teams. They face the same problem as us. Technical students love the technology but are weak in the business development. Business people are not that much emotionally attached to technology but have strong business drive. We need to learn how to combine these two worlds.

It is great to be located in NYC, says Steven. Compared to Silicon Valley NYC offers massive market opportunities, it is the main center of various businesses. What more once you get out of the building you are only few minutes away from Soho one of the most lively parts of NY.

It was a great meeting, I have seen the rooms filled with many geeks and I had a long talk with Steven. He had promised to serve in our jury in the next run of eClub. We have also discussed a possibility to Skype some of the presentations they give in NY to eClub in spring. We definitely will connect and discuss further possibilities. This visit was very interesting and motivational. Let's stay in touch with one of the busiest cities in the world.

1 comment:

  1. It must be amazing to see something what runs so long and prosperously. Very good experience!
    Jan Martínek, project manager (Clusters, support SME, lifelong learning)