At a previous job, I was exposed to tech founders from all over the world, each with the same mission: to expand their operations to the U.S.
I witnessed their struggles, shared in their against-all-odds optimism and mentored them through their journey. As we explored and were amazed by the dynamism of the tech landscape, I came to know and love New York City through the eyes of these courageous foreign startups. Many of them declared it the perfect landing zone for a firm entering the American market.
Yet despite the city’s reputation and prestige, most of the world does not know it to be the No. 2 hub for cutting-edge tech and innovation. Here are some reasons why I believe it is the best ecosystem for U.S. market entry.
All stakeholders are in your backyard. A driver for New York’s rapid growth, the population density remains one of the most prevalent upsides to New York’s tech scene. In Manhattan (and in many of the outer Boroughs), you will find everything you need to build and scale a business. Clients, VCs, Partners, and Talent are all just a few subways stops away. The accessibility and convenience of New York City’s famous grid make for faster deals, more collaboration opportunities, and a sense of community unrivaled by car-reliant cities.
Diversity is inevitable. New York City is undeniably one of the most diverse places on the planet. Nearly 60% of the city’s population are immigrants or children of immigrants. This diversity leads to a broader understanding of your market and allows founders to make products and services that cater to a more dynamic set of users.
For foreign founders, this also means being accepted more readily by the community and experiencing less prejudice when trying to sell to clients.
Additionally, studies show diversity within a company results in better returns so pulling from a diverse applicant pool when hiring can lead to greater success.
Time zone matters. If you are coming here to set up your operations, chances are you aren’t bringing the whole team with you. It usually makes sense to leave your R&D in a more cost-efficient market. You want your headquarters in the U.S. to have reasonable overlap with your home turf’s time zone to reduce these operational difficulties.
For an example, I took a look at Startup Genome’s top 10 ecosystems list and compared their time zones. New York City is the most centrally located established ecosystem in the U.S. relative to the others.
Community abounds. New York City has a reputation for people who are busy, rude and driven by self-interest. While that may be true in some industries, the tech scene possesses a strong sense of community. I came to know and love it primarily because of the overwhelming sense that people are devoted to the development and support of tech and entrepreneurship.
New York City venture capitalists love international startups. There is no question that the most important reason startups cite for entering the U.S. market is to raise funds. While most VCs in the U.S. will only consider companies who have an established presence here (a legal entity and some traction), many in New York are quite open to investing in international companies and will, at the very least, offer guidance for those planning to move here.
Philip Delvecchio is a startup advisor based in New York City.