Most discussions on vibrant startup communities center around being in close proximity to ‘knowledgeable’ money shakers, yet the anchor tenants can be labeled as:
1.) A relationship based economy made up of networks that include new innovators and experienced disruptors.
2.) Strategic leaders who share advice if not connections that extend beyond the local.
3.) Healthy smattering of companies using open source tools, agile/scrum dev processes, and have contributed to the open source community. Having access to other startups and being able to connect and meetup with folks that have gone through early funding rounds. They deeply understand the challenges of early startups (from @victusfate aka Mark Essel, I was fortunate enough to meet with Zemanta key guys Bostjan and Andraz to determine feasibility before even designing any software)
4.) Creative advertising and marketing groups that understand the processes involved, including targeted viral marketing, and are willing to share some tricks to the trade.
5.) Fab physical locations for group meetups (Refresh, etc.).
6.) Smart virtual environments for extended idea discussions/connections.
7.) Do-ers willing to contribute to the discussions/idea trains.
8.) Both previous ‘winners’ reinvesting in the community AND experienced investors who have reach to fund well beyond the Angel (US$25k-150k) and small VC group (US$250k-7M).
9.) An outside org built to raise/drive awareness of happenings, success stories, and rewarding those at play with awards that establish the mark.
10.) A great place to live that brings culture, activities, and an energetic community to the party.
11.) Infrastructure. Lawyers, accountants and other professionals who understand the needs of startups and the ability to work with them - you can't find that everywhere i.e. deferring legal fees until a series A round is sometimes unheard of in other cities. (@glenn_gutierrez)
12.) [Surprised this hadn't been suggested already...] Strong, diverse university environment supplying research, young minds, and an "anything is possible" vibe to the area. Examples: Austin, San Jose, Ann Arbor, Boston, NYC, etc. (@jmcaddell)
International Trade Hub- it's like a cocktail shaker of culture and people. Very ethnic, yet people mix all the time, so you are always getting exposed to new ideas. People are constantly interconnecting in different ways. ShanaC
Diversity of scale: big organizations and little ones existing cheek-by-jowl. The big ones seed the little ones with talent, demand for services, and provide foundational services that are inputs to little-company business models. The most important effect, though is the talent marketplace: bigco employees looking to apply what they learned in smallco opportunities; smallco survivors looking to juice up the slumbering bigco operations with entrepreneurial energy; and bigcos providing training grounds to draw in recent graduates.
Most NYC innovators aren't surrounded in their social circle by other technology professionals, so they build companies that solve mainstream problems (Meetup, Gilt Groupe, The Ladders, Paltalk) or address clear business pain points (Pontiflex, Conductor), as opposed to solving geek problems (Friendfeed). One friend said it best, people in Silicon Valley live in the future. This may lead to lots of innovation but many much before their time. The difference with NYC companies is the idea that they mix cutting edge with practical applications.
If a startup has an enterprise product that they want to sell to firms in Financial Services or Advertising (or any other related firms in these ecosystems), the close proximity to these potential customers is invaluable. Its the ability to get feedback from customers promptly and in person that makes NYC a fantastic place to be. (FarazQ)
Adding to that, the relationship building process (with top caliber clientelle) is enhanced and streamlined because you can't beat a face to face discussion - especially when you're paying for their lunch. (@glenn_gutierrez)
The combination of focused geography and driven, creative people have helped foster a rich community of entrepreneurs in an environment that facilitates serendipity.
NYC is the home of Madison Avenue, advertising and the media business -- one which is broken in many ways and ripe for reinvention. NYC startups have an edge by basing their operations on or near Madison Avenue. They're close to the problem, close to the decision makers, and close to the marketing dollars that are seeking better investments (Max Kalehoff).
As an outsider, Max's comment on an edge in media related businesses appears to be major. (David Cohen, TechStars)
The "underdog mentality" that drives us to be the best (even if we're competing against ourselves to be better at what we already do - "core competencies"). Similarly though, learning from the success/mistakes of other cities, and adjusting our 'feature set.' Also... Shake Shack. (reecepacheco)
Unlike the Valley, NY is a town where your many of your friends and sig other may not actually be in the tech industry, may not be gadget freaks, and may not even use the word "ping". In other words, your friends/sig other may be "consumers". This kind of access to real humans provides NYers with ready research on potential users - the kind that most folks in the Valley don't get until after a seed round and a public beta. (@jpmarcum)
NYC should be a place with world-class telecommunications connectivity, a place where access to cloud services is as fast as connectivity to
local servers, where file-based collaboration is just as fast
across town as it is within an office. A place where high-resolution multi-way video conferencing and screen sharing is not only possible but rapidly becoming commonplace. A place where high-speed optical connectivity is universal attainable and easily affordable. In such a place, high-tech starts would have LAN-speed access to one another (as well as the world at large) at speeds and prices that are globally competitive. Right now we're lagging behind... and Verizon's Fios is a long way from coming to our rescue. (@lklepner)
NYC as a startup hub isn't really just a place - it's an
ideology. To people searching for the American dream it's one of the
first cities to pop up in someone's mind. From the outside looking in,
being there is the same as succeding. However, once you're there you
realize how much more there is to achieve and how much more one needs to improve. Thus, NYC as an ideology is both a commitment to bettering
oneself and knowing that changing the world is possible. (@Glenn_Gutierrez)
12.) Brutally efficient product management. Each block of this polyglot city has 10 potential customers more than willing to share their opinions on why your idea is wonderful/terrible, and what will make it better, or what else to do with your life (@cfederman)
Internet Sub-Sectors Dominated by NYC-area Startups
I figure that a good way to define what makes NYC special is to approach the question backward: look at what's here and not elsewhere, and try and figure out why. So I suggest we put together a list of sub-sectors which NYC dominates. (@dandotlewis)
- Email Newsletters
- Daily Candy (http://dailycandy.com), "DailyCandy is a free daily e-mail from the front lines of fashion, food, and fun." Founded in NYC, sold to Comcast
- Thrillist (http://thrillist.com), Daily Candy, but targetting men. Founded and based in NYC.
- Urban Daddy (http://urbandaddy.com), similar to Thrillist. Founded and based in NYC.
- Flavorpill (http://flavorpill.com), trendy events mailer. Founded and based in NYC.
- TastingTable (http://tastingtable.com), targetting foodies. Not sure if it's NYC-based but I believe it is.
- The Toilet Paper (http://thetoiletpaper.com), "News for the thinking man", based in NYC.
- Daily Tailgate (http://dailytailgate.com), sports, based in NYC.
- Market data and business information services (Tom Hughes)
- Alacra (http://www.alacra.com)
- InfoNgen (http://www.infongen.com)
- Seeking Alpha (http://seekingalpha.com)
- The Street (http://thestreet.com)
- Business Insider - Silicon Alley Insider
Chris Dixon wrote on this topic, good for reference: http://www.cdixon.org/?p=281