In today’s New-York-City-is-the-best-place-in-the-universe news, Mike Bloomberg has for us the latest success story for the Big Apple: its small business start-ups.
In line with the theme of many of the mayor’s events so far this year — promoting innovation in fashion, in film and television (with Gossip Girl!), in the Bronx , and, you know, just in general, innovation all the time — Bloomberg held a news conference this morning to pat himself on the back for all he and his city agencies have done to help small businesses get their start, create jobs, and attract entrepreneurs to New York City.
Speaking at the NYU-Poly Varick Street Incubator this morning, Bloomberg, standing in front of a backdrop with the words “City of Innovation” written all over it (HE LIKES INNOVATION, GUYS!), Bloomberg — after briefly touring the incubator’s swanky offices — told reporters that the city’s efforts over the last three years have paid off.
He announced that the incubator, which the city launched in 2009 as a partnership between the city’s Economic Development Corporation and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, has graduated or will soon graduate a total of 22 companies, which collectively have created more than 300 jobs. It was the first in a growing network of city-sponsored incubators, which are designed to offer startups and small businesses low-risk, affordable opportunities to try and get their companies off the ground — in an entrepreneurial collaborative environment where innovators can work alongside each other and share resources. It started with a $100,000 capital grant, and since 2009, the companies have collectively raised $38 million in investor funding, the mayor said.
“Today, I’m happy to say the results are in and they are excellent,” Bloomberg said. “Many of these new companies will continue to grow and continue to contribute to our economy and to our tax base…What started on Varick Street three years ago has now spread throughout the city,” he said, noting that this is one of ten city incubators that his office has launched.
“Talent is the oil of the 21st century,” said Jerry Hultin, president of NYU’s Polytechnic Institute. “What the mayor and I and all of us together have done is create a place where we take young people with energy and ambitions and turn it into real talent.”
Examples of recent graduates from Varick Street include EcoLogic Solutions, which manufactures environmentally responsible cleaning products, Fig Food Co., which cooks organic plant-based foods, and Hotlist, a geo-social aggregator that provides real-time info on where friends are and what they’re doing.
Inaki Berenguer, the founder of Pixable, a photo management website — and the first graduate of the incubator — told a bit of his company’s story.
“We have brought engineers from all over the world…[and] from universities from all over the United States,” he said, noting that he and his partners moved the company from Boston to New York. “Being part of the incubator helped us a lot — especially during that first year…Personally, getting all this moral support from all these other entrepreneurs in the incubators…professionally, it’s tapping into the network. It’s very valuable.”
One reporter asked the speakers what the ratio of men to women at the incubator is.
“It’s fairly representative of the tech ecosystem as a whole,” Micah Kotch, a director with the incubator, responded, noting that it’s about a four to one ratio. “There’s not enough women founders in tech generally.”