Overcoming the Three Big Challenges of Starting in NYC

Posted Editor Article

By Stefanie Lemcke

Making it in New York City is a challenge. Regardless of whether you are from Berlin, Barcelona, or Boston, New York City treats everybody equally and businesses are expected “to figure it out” without much hand holding. New York International, consultant partner to the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s World to NYC program (www.worldtonyc.com) and other international development programs, has put together a list of what companies regard as the three big challenges of doing business in New York and how to overcome them.

  • Trust: Any company coming to New York needs support. There are numerous professional services available, most of them are valuable for newcomers though never cheap, but finding trusted partners and people in your industry remains challenging.
  • Cost: The combination of high costs and competition with low margins will remain a key consideration for many businesses. Technology often has a different approach. Even without any profit, New York City’s focus on valuation can make the city highly attractive.
  • Network filter: New York City is home for some of the best people in various industries and fields. Talking to those industry leaders, can help your business immensely, you need to get their attention with a “qualified introduction” which can take a lot of time.

The various programs run by the City of New York, the accelerator programs and the dozens of co-working spaces has made the start in New York much easier in recent years.

Stefanie Lemcke

Stefanie Lemcke

What does the playbook for New York City look like? It has three simple components:

  • Coming to NYC starts at home: A company like Klara.com (page 11) saw a demand for their product in the US before moving to New York. Even if that is is not the case, online research into the market, investors, and partners is easier done at home.
  • Never walk alone: A company like KISI.com (page 6) won three startup challenges in one week – even New Yorkers took note of that. With the support of leading institutions KISI became part of the NYC tech ecosystem fast and always had somebody to turn to for advice.
  • Never be dull, and “ABC”: Business in New York starts on playgrounds, at birthday parties, and in bars. A company like Etsy.com got one of their first investments after their co-founder was drinking with someone in a bar, pitched his idea, and closed the deal (“ABC – always be closing”). By now, Etsy is generating more than a billion dollars in revenues and supports thousands of local and international entrepreneurs selling their products on their platform.

One of the most successful international entrepreneurs of all time in New York City might have been the young Auguste Bartholdi from Colmar, France. He pitched and tweaked his idea, so everybody in New York found something interesting in it. After 15 years his vision came alive: The Statue of Liberty.

We at New York International, proud partner and organizer of the 2014 TEP conference, are dedicated to helping others “make it in New York.” With our website, newsletter, conference series, business development advice for entrepreneurs and our corporate programs we’ve become part of the thriving New York ecosystem. It has never been easier or more fun to come to the Big Apple.


Stefanie Lemcke is a principal at Quantum Media and co-founder of New York International

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