I'm often asked what the biggest difference is between the New York and Silicon Valley tech scenes. Aside from the obvious differences (e.g. good luck finding any reliable public transportation in San Francisco - let alone a grocery store that's open past 9pm), the biggest difference is the diminutive approach many NYC-based startups take when it comes to growing their businesses.
In most ways, New York is the consummate “think big” city. It's known for being bigger, badder, more daring and more ostentatious than any other city in America.
New York's obsession with size, money and power is the stuff of legend. Unfortunately, that flagrant disregard for boundaries stops short when it comes to the burgeoning tech community here.
Stop Thinking Small
Compared to our compatriots in the Bay Area, NYC startups often think smaller. The scope of our visions, the audacity of our goals and the nature of the disruption we're attempting to unleash is all suppressed by the financial realism which has been drilled into our heads. In a city where finance is King and profits equal power, tech startups are an anomalous and often misunderstood world where often times, immense power needs a gestation period of heavy losses.
This is exacerbated by the economics which typically underlie smaller seed-fund-sizes here on the East Coast. Another contributing factor is the relative scarcity of historically large exits, which can help spark the imaginations of founders and investors alike.
Big Ideas Need Big Changes
Plain and simple - the New York tech world needs to start thinking bigger.
Let's be brash! Let's be those kids in a coffee shop trying to defeat the big, bad Fortune-500-wolf whose had a stranglehold on our space for decades! Let's have a vision that's so big in scope, it makes investors look at us funny!
After all - isn't it way more exciting to tackle a big problem -something structural, something insanely difficult?!
I'm not talking about an iteration on someone else's thing or an incremental improvement - I'm talking about something that, if you managed to solve it, would change the way in which entire industries function.
Sounds pretty absurd, but that's what technology and innovation is all about! We can't spend our lives being worried about becoming Icarus, when our brethren in Silicon Valley are discovering that the sun doesn't actually burn that badly.....in fact, it actually kinda tickles.
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