This is a guest post from Nate Westheimer. Nate is an engineer, entrepreneur, and angel investor. Currently, Nate serves as Executive Director of the NY Tech Meetup, Advisor to Flybridge Capital Partners, and Founder/Advisor to Ohours.org. He blogs at innonate.com.
As the NY Tech scene has gained momentum over the past few years, I find myself talking to a lot of journalists who are trying to understand what’s going on here and how we arrived at this point.
In these interviews, I always highlight NY Tech’s unique culture, and in so doing I point out that this culture is both native to New York itself, but also cultivated and defined by folks in the tech community 5 to 10 years ago, before this Great Boom showed up in Gap ads and magazine covers.
In my opinion, the culture we have here has been defined by three people:
. . . You gots to put a shingle up to attract the start-up talent. With a 1.7 percent acceptance rate for its last class, TechStars NY already bested the Ivy League at its own game: the enviable aura of exclusivity. But New York’s glut of incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces—all loosely-organized around the goal of mentoring, housing, funding and growing baby start-ups into big companies—have led to a noticeable distinction between the varsity and JV leagues of support networks. Admission into TechStars vaunted ranks, of course, comes with $18,000 in funding—and exposure. And even General Assembly is known for having VCs saunter-through its effortlessly cool coworking space, which has led to some investment deals.
Begun in the 1940s as a penny arcade and museum of oddities, the Chinatown Fair Arcade was one of the last great haunts for coin-operated machines and their all-night jockeys.
It played host to an eclectic crowd of gamers, dancers, freaks and thugs, all joined by a common love of great arcade action, the kind of physical, sweat-inducing play that is hard to find on a console.
The location shut down suddenly in February after the owner received an eviction notice. Kurt Vincent, a independent filmmaker from Brooklyn, captured the last, emotional night, as players from across the five boroughs flocked for a final taste.