Next Wednesday night, I'm hosting a roundtable discussion between Brooklyn innovation community stakeholders on how to make this side of the river a better place to create, build businesses and grow. There's no specific agenda or goal, other than to bring together all of the people that have an interest in this great community and its ability to incubate cutting edge and creative ideas.
From 2005 to 2009, I was fortunate enough to be part of a small group of New York City innovation community leaders that sowed some of the seeds of the thriving tech hub we have today. At the time, though, we didn't know what we know now. Honestly, it was a fair bit of hand waving and maybe a little smoke and mirrors--saying in 2005 that we had a ton of startup-ready tech talent. Now, it's actually true. Now we can honestly say that NYC is a great place to build a venture backed company.
Brooklyn now is an even better position than the rest of NYC was in 2005--with its critical mass of talent, creativity, friendlier real estate, etc. Plus, we have the benefit of seeing how things in NYC grew over the last few years. We have a unique opportunity to carry over that same growth across the river.
In first month of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, I've had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people who are interested in building up the tech and startup community. There's a ton of enthusiasm out there, but now it's time to get to work. As an investor, it's always been a practice of mine to help build up the community around me and to help build a better local base for entrepreneurs and creatives to make great things. There's a huge opportunity to do that in Brooklyn, but we need to answer some tough questions, organize our leaders and get on the same page.
Here are ten questions that Brooklyn needs to answer before becoming an innovation hub:
- Is Brooklyn its own innovation center or just a great compliment/extension of Manhattan?
- How does intra-borough geography play a factor--in terms of how Williamsburg, Dumbo, Downtown Brooklyn, Greenpoint, the Navy Yard come together to form a cohesive landscape. Does Brooklyn need a center?
- What kind of real estate will be available for innovative companies and where?
- What role, if any, should local politicians play?
- What role should local schools like NYU-Poly and Pratt play--or even local high schools?
- How can we get Brooklyn creators thinking about making a bigger impact and taking on bigger problems--building the next Google versus building the next skinny jeans swapping site?
- What community structures are needed to help improve the ecosystem?
- Who are the community leaders that will move us forward and who are the potential ones that we can support to take more active roles?
- Can we survive off of the Manhattan investor base or does Brooklyn need more local investors?
- How do we enable the creative and entrepreneurial communities to feed off of each other better?