by Shane Barbanel
Last night I took part in a stakeholder meeting hosted by Tecnical.ly Brooklyn about the problems facing entrepreneurs, startups and tech biz in Brooklyn and to hear about potential solutions. The question being asked: How do we keep startups here once they blow up?
I was too busy to pay attention to the question at hand because I was stuck in a time-and-space vortex of deja vu mixed shaken and stirred with a feeling of gratitude and sliced up with Shazam!
Translation: I was so giddy I could barely sit still. Seriously.
I was seated near the conference table which was like watching a movie I could participate in. Among those in attendance were Zach Seward and Tyler Woods of Technical.ly Brooklyn, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership , The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival , The Red Hook Initiative, Agrilyst,and Urban Future Lab.
I was happy because I have been involved professionally with downtown Brooklyn since the 90’s but more intimately since 2002 when I started regularly attending FMIA (Fulton Mall Improvement Association) meetings. What a whirlwind of change has taken place since then! I felt like a teenager driving for the first time listening to Zach Seward asking the Founders in attendance about the problems we face today. Back in 2002, we could not draw attention to ourselves, if we ran naked through the streets of Brooklyn offering free office space no one would would’ve blinked an eye, they just did not want Brooklyn. There wasn’t a tech startup anywhere to be found here back then! Seriously, having a meeting with the likes of Agrilyst, the Urban Future Lab and Technical.ly! Talk about Future Shock? How awesome, to even be having this conversation in the first place!
So before I could contribute to our current state of tech and startup affairs, I have to say nothing compares Brooklyn to in the realm of startups, tech, fashion, retail, robotics, food. Wow! We rock! We’ve got some of the most dynamic, upward thinking, innovative people doing some real interesting, life changing stuff here. The big question for tech businesses was: How do we keep them here once they blow up? My take on this is: Don’t worry about the ones who head out to the west coast, we are giving birth to some of the top newcomers, and some WILL stay, some will not, but we have created the ecosystem for this to happen. We are in a state of growth, of unbelievable change, and in all of it is Brooklyn. We are more than Silicon Valley, more than Colorado, than Toronto. We are diverse, because along with tech companies, Brooklyn hosts fashion, real estate, manufacturing, film & tv, construction, and retail — of course we’re stronger. We are the sought after place to make it any industry – we are most certainly not a one trick pony, there’s power in that. And because Brooklyn has everyone – all races, religions, ages, sexual preferences – there is magic there as well. My prediction? Now what we will see is tech companies from the outside, globally, nationally looking to open up shop here. They will be wanting Brooklyn, her proximity to Manhattan, the diversity, the numerous markets and peoples we represent and the competition that fosters the very best of everything. THAT’S my prediction, and you can take that to the bank!