An Introduction to the NYC Tech Community
By Christina Wallace, Director of Startup Institute New York
So you want to be part of the NYC tech community, but you’re not sure where to start? I completely understand. There’s a lot of activity in the NYC tech world and it can be hard for an outsider to distinguish between the signal and the noise. Is this meetup worth going to? What about that class? Who should I be following on Twitter? Whether you are looking for a job at a startup or just trying to get the lay of the land because you think you want to found your company in NYC, there are a few easy ways to get started:
Start reading blogs
Not all blogs are created equal (but you knew that already). The one blog you should be reading on a regular basis is Fred Wilson’s AVC. Fred is a VC with Union Square Ventures (a very highly regarded firm in NYC) and he is a prolific writer with some seriously great insights on startups, leadership, relationships, you name it.
Then there are the blogs that cover the news, the semi-news, and the straight up tech gossip. Read them to get a sense of who the players are, what’s getting funded, and which companies are kicking butt and taking names, but be sure take the gossip with a grain of salt. (And be prepared for a good dose of slideshows and a sometimes lackadaisical approach to copy-editing.)
Go to events
Events are the best way to get out of your apartment and actually get involved with the community. Some events charge a nominal fee ($10-40), but those are typically classes. Many are events targeted toward people new to the community covering topics like “how to get a job at a startup” or the Suits to Silicon Alley meetup “how to transition from the corporate world to the startup world”. The best events for meeting people actually doing things in the NY tech world are those hosted by the companies themselves. Whether launch parties or pop-up shops or hackathons or one-day conferences, those are the events where you’ll actually meet the community.
How to find out about events you should attend:
Charlie O’Donnell’s weekly email list
Engage on Twitter
We love Twitter and you should too. If you’re not on Twitter yet, it’s time to join the 21st century. And if you’re already on it but have used it mostly for personal posts to your 6 followers about your lunch of tuna and kale chips, clean up your feed and start thinking of it as a professional outlet.
Don’t get me wrong: personal tweets aren’t a problem as a whole - they keep you human and prevent you from sounding sales-y and obnoxious. Just keep an eye on the proportion of useful tweets vs. personal. Share relevant content. Engage in conversation. Respond to questions. Then discuss your lunch of tuna and kale chips.
Who should you start following in NYC? Well, the best place to start is @NYCTechMan. It’s an anonymous account that deflates the sails of some of NYC’s most awesome (and sometimes most #humblebragging) tech kids. Follow him, then check out the list of who he follows.
Another great list is @NishaChittal’s Change The Ratio list of awesome women in tech. (They aren’t all in NYC, but that doesn’t matter. It’s an interconnected community between Boston and California and a lot of places in between.)
And for people who want the in-depth overview of NYC, check out Steve Schlafman’s Guide to New York Tech. Steve is a VC at Lerer Ventures (another awesome VC firm here) and put together this amazing presentation last year. It’s 80 slides but worth flipping through when you’ve got an extra minute.