I’m just going to put it out there. NYC is better than Silicon Valley. Whether it’s how SoHo is better than Palo Alto or any of the myriad reasons why the Big Apple will eventually win out, the East Coast’s rising tech Mecca is just flat-out better than the Valley. Am I biased? Of course. But I have also thought this for a long time now. However, my sentiment was taken to the next level after I stumbled upon this article.
If you’re unable to take a look at it, essentially, the author is bemoaning that entrepreneurship in the Valley has become productized, as groups like Y Combinator attempt to commoditize the startup process, thereby derisking it. She laments that there aren’t many “game changers” in the Valley, and everyone just wants to create a Groupon clone or another Angry Birds, ultimately concluding that the problem with Silicon Valley is itself.
Now maybe it’s my bias coming in here or the fact that NYC is relatively young as a tech / startup center compared to the Valley, but I can’t imagine a NYC-based blogger / journalist writing a piece with such a tone. Accelerators like Y Combinator, or in the NYC case TechStars and DreamIt Ventures, are phenomenal programs that help take startups to the next level by providing invaluable resources (a little capital, office space, and, most importantly, mentors). Yes, these programs are doing their best to derisk the startup process and may be “commoditizing” the process to a certain extent, but at the end of the day, aren’t these good things? You shouldn’t start a business because it’s risky – you should want to lower the amount of risk you’re taking on, which is substantial to begin with. And regarding the commoditization point, shouldn’t entrepreneurs benefit from the patterns that these accelerators have come to recognize by incubating dozens and dozens of companies? Isn’t the goal of investing in these companies to see a return on the investment? So why not refine the process, so the entrepreneurs learn as much as possible and make as much progress as possible in the most efficient manner? Given the nature of startups, no matter how much one tries to standardize the process, it’s always going to be slightly different with various hurdles to overcome.
Regarding the author’s second point of contention, during the last several months of getting entrenched in the NYC startup ecosystem, every person I met recognized how privileged they were to be part of such an incredible community of creative, bright, genuine people regardless of whether the person in the co-working space next to him was building a product to map the human genome more easily or creating another mobile, social app. Everyone recognizes that they are part of a passionate community of thinkers, doers, hustlers, and helpers with something to share with and learn from everyone else whether you’re a serial entrepreneur with multiple exits under your belt or a fledgling founder seeking a technical co-founder. This gratefulness is the same for investors, and I have seen it firsthand from the VCs with whom I’ve met. Just look at Dave Tisch’s blog post from yesterday regarding his investment in GroupMe (his first exit) and his belief in investing in the people first, and one will understand how great the NYC tech scene is.
All of the above equates to one thing: appreciation. Appreciation for entrepreneurs, appreciation for investors, appreciation for the opportunity to be a part of such a vibrant and amazing community. I can’t imagine this appreciation ever dissipating in NYC like it seems to have done in the Valley (according to that article). And that is the real reason why NYC is better than Silicon Valley – because we’ll always remain appreciative and, in turn, always remain hungry.