Move over Silicon Valley – here comes Silicon Alley.
If you’ve never heard the term before, don’t worry because we’re here to enlighten you. Silicon Alley is the nickname for the growing tech and entrepreneurship scene in New York City, and while it’s very similar to the scene in San Francisco, it’s also very different.
It can be difficult to choose a base of operations when you’re launching a startup because there are so many different factors to consider. Different locations have different laws and incentives, and they also have different costs of living and different startup landscapes. While you might face stiff competition in one area, you might be able to dominate in another.
Silicon Alley isn’t better than Silicon Valley, but it isn’t worse either. Both come with their pros and cons, and we’re going to share just a few of them today. Here are five things you need to know about Silicon Alley.
1. Better diversity
New York City is a melting pot for different cultures, different industries and different ideas, which makes it the perfect place for people to come together and for disruption to take place. In the Valley, it’s overwhelmingly tech-focused. Not so in New York, where huge companies of all shapes and sizes come to do business.
The upshot of all of this is that if you’re building a tech startup that taps into other industries, New York could well be the place to do it. For example, if you’re building a hot new finance app, it may make more sense to launch it in the New York financial market instead of in the Valley’s more happy-go-lucky land of consumer electronics. The Big Apple is also a popular choice for advertising, fashion and entertainment.
This diversity also carries over to employees, so if you’re determined to hire a diverse set of employees – which is definitely encouraged in this day and age for a variety of reasons – then New York is a better place to do it.
2. It’s a media hub
From The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to Vice and BuzzFeed, New York City is home to a whole heap of both traditional and new media publications which are constantly looking for stories.
Sure, the Valley gets a lot of attention from the media, but there’s also a lot of competition. And in New York City, it’s much, much easier to meet up with and to network with journalists and to show them why your startup is worth writing about.
3. It offers a better work/life balance
In Silicon Valley, the work/life balance is often skewed and it can lead to people spending far too much time in the office – and they’re not always even working. It’s not uncommon for people to lurk around after hours to play on the office gaming machines or to chat to colleagues, which is fine in moderation but which can become unhealthy if taken to excess.
In New York, though, it’s easy to have a social life that’s totally removed from work and to make friends with all sorts of different people. There’s also the fact that different areas of the city have different vibes – so Brooklyn, for example, is home to plenty of younger working professionals and a corresponding number of hipster coffee shops and artsy thrift stores.
Let’s face it – New York is one of the greatest cities in the world. There’s no temptation to stick around at the office just to make your presence felt when you could be exploring the city.
4. It has its own startup scene
Silicon Valley is well-known for its startup scene, but New York City has a startup scene of its own with events pretty much every day and a number of interesting disruptors, many of which are backed by serious venture capital.
One of the interesting things about New York’s startup scene is that it’s still a young scene, which means that it’s still finding its feet. Unlike Silicon Valley, which is dominated by behemoths like Google and Facebook, New York city has plenty of room for new startups to come along and define it.
Part of the reason for this is that New York tends to be more traditional in its attitude towards entrepreneurship. In the Valley, too many people think about changing the world and forget about establishing a solid business model. In NYC, it’s often the opposite, meaning that people tend to focus more on making money than on making a difference. If you see yourself as somewhere in between the two, New York is arguably the better choice.
5. There’s less snobbiness
Sure, people in the Big Apple might jump to snap decisions based upon what you’re wearing, so perhaps you’d better get used to wearing a suit before you start arranging important meetings. But in many ways, that’s because the city is so fast-paced that people have to make snap judgements if they want to function.
The good news is that nobody in the Big Apple will care where you were educated or what you majored in. They’ll care about what you’re doing because actions speak louder than words, but the huge amount of diversity means that your background is largely irrelevant. All that matters is what you’re working towards.
Silicon Alley and Silicon Valley are very different places with their own unique vibes, which means that if you’re a founder and you’re looking for a place to establish your headquarters, it’s a good idea to visit both New York and California and to spend some time in each city before you arrive at a decision.
As with most things, there’s no magic bullet, and there’s no single answer to the question of “where should I launch my startup?” The good news, though, is that as long as new hubs like New York are continuing to pop up, there’s more choice for founders and entrepreneurs – and that can only be a good thing.