How to Create a Healthy Local Startup and Tech Community

In 2010, Antonio Garcia Martinez, the founder of AdGrok, wrote, “New York will always be a tech backwater, I don’t care what Chris Dixon or Ron Conway or Paul Graham say.”

That prediction obviously turned out pretty wrong, but it did drum up a whole lot of chatter about the right ingredients for building a startup community—about New York vs Boston on the East Coast and whether cities like Austin and Seattle would ever break through. Today, we would add places like Miami and Salt Lake City to that age old debate.

I built a 3,000 person tech networking organization in NYC back in 2006 and was one of the first 100 members of the NY Tech Meetup back in 2005 so I’ve participated in a lot of these conversations.

Standing here today in a city that has had many multi-billion dollar IPOs and has clearly cemented itself as a world class startup city, especially given that we’re still thriving in the pandemic and that reports of our total demise in a Zoom world have been “greatly exaggerated”, I’m happy to share some of what I’ve learned.

First, you have to ask yourself what the desired outcome is. Are you trying to figure out how to build a place that creates venture backed IPOs or are you trying to build something where technical people can feel like they’re in a community?

Those two things aren’t really the same.

Boston has never had any trouble building big companies—but for years people (Read more...)