Digital.NYC is the official online hub of the New York City startup and technology ecosystem, bringing together every company, startup, investor, event, job, class, blog, video, workspace, accelerator, incubator, resource, and organization in the five boroughs. It is the result of a unique public/private partnership between the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Gust, and over a dozen leading NYC-based technology and media companies.
We sat down with Digital.NYC editor Marcos Dinnerstein (pictured below) to learn more about what this great organization can do for NYC.
Bixby: How did Digital.NYC get started and what was it’s original purpose or mission?
The idea for Digital.NYC was conceived during Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s administration. The city wanted, quite literally, to create a digital map of every startup in NYC. The goal of the work was to show how vibrant the scene was and to give the city the opportunity to build engagement with the growing startup ecosystem in a very public way. From its original concept to the final site the idea grew and matured into the site you see today. The co-conspirators in this wonderful ’scheme’ included David S. Rose, Founder & CEO of Gust, over a dozen tech and media companies in NYC and received financial support from IBM, our former sponsor. The site was actually launched in 2014 under incoming mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. The goal of this digital hub was, and remains, to centralize all the relevant information that supports and nurtures both companies and workers in NYC’s tech and startup community. Additionally, by having an ambassador/editor actively present in the community, Digital.NYC creates and strengthens relationships in the real world. This is much more powerful than even a vibrant web site alone could be. Based on the great feedback we get, we can see we’re achieving these two goals.
Bixby: How has it evolved since then?
Digital.NYC has evolved in two important ways. First, the sheer quantity and range of information on the NYC tech and startup world has increased significantly. We have more than doubled the number of company profiles that users can search, we’ve added new content partners for job listings, courses, incubators / accelerators, city and state resources as well as news sources. Secondly, as editor I have made it my mission to be a physical presence in the community. By ‘showing up’ Digital.NYC effectively supports and strengthens the connections among the mind-boggling variety of companies, organizations and people in our community. Additionally, the role of the editor has really matured into more of an ambassadorial role. I spend a lot of my time helping to connect key players in the ecosystem. It’s great to see how the site, and my place in the ecosystem, has matured but I don’t think when the site was first launched that anyone anticipated the level of engagement the editor would have with the community.
Bixby: What does Digital.NYC hope to achieve for the startup & innovation community here in NYC?
In addition to continuing to serve and support as I just mentioned, we’d like to keep NYC more informed about events and policy discussions that affect us all by amplifying the important voices among us. A few of the groups active in these discussions are: The Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation, the folks leading NYC Open Data, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Tech:NY, the NY Tech Alliance, and Civic Hall. Each is an active, positive voice in helping to shape how NYC evolves. We’re confident these discussions will support our ability to improve life for the greatest number of people. Specifically this means thinking about the right regulatory environment in which support for companies, tech workers and potential tech workers is openly debated. Only informed, rational, fact-based debate will let us continue to create one of the great, inclusive smart cities that we aspire to be.
Bixby: What are some of the organizations and foundations that support Digital.NYC and how do they do so?
There are so many that once I mention a few I’ll regret having omitted some important ones. But OK, off the top of my head: Of course both New York City and the NYC Economic Development Corporation are great partners. Then there’s the New York Tech Alliance, Civic Hall, Per Scolas, Coalition for Queens, the Tech Talent Pipeline, C/I Code/Interactive, and yes, there are so many more who deserve recognition so again, I apologize for omitting you.
Bixby: What are some ways that a startup can get involved with Digital.NYC?
First - register your company on Digital.NYC (this registers you on Gust) and keep your company profile current. Don’t let those dust bunnies collect under the table. Next, use Digital.NYC to post your jobs, list your events, courses or co-working spaces. When you get press coverage please let me know immediately and I’ll amplify that message on Digital.NYC. If you are an early stage company raising funds (pre-Series A) let me know and we might include you in our Featured Startup program. Our hope is the additional publicity will help in your fund raising. Lastly, feel free to give me a shout if you want to talk about what’s going on in the NYC tech world. I’m happy to speak with pretty much anyone if it pertains to the tech and startup scene in NYC. (i’m at email@example.com)
Bixby: Where do you feel NYC ranks in terms of its startup community and focus on innovation with other major tech hubs in the US and abroad?
There are different metrics we could use for ranking tech hubs. On sheer dollar value and number of deals we’re still behind Silicon Valley. We’re second nationally with Boston coming into third place. But what are we to make of that ranking? Compared to Silicon Valley or Boston, New York City has a much more diverse range of companies based on the our traditional strengths. We have FinTech, Fashion Tech, Marketing Tech, Real Estate Tech, based on the legacy businesses. But we also have significant strength in Blockchain, VR / AR, Artificial Intelligence, advanced manufacturing (see NewLab) and a rapidly growing Bio-Tech industry. (Look out! Here comes Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island) One metric that I’m proud of is NYC’s first place ranking in a report on the Top 50 Global Cities for Women Entrepreneurs. Clearly there’s more work to be done by everyone but it warms my heart to know we lead the world on this front.
Bixby: What’s your background and how did you get involved with Digital.NYC?
I entered the business world working in the offices of Rho Capital Partners. From there I worked in operational roles at an Ad Tech startup, and in various roles at ProQuest. Those included, customer support, product specialist and product management work. Two years ago I joined Gust as the the editor of Digital.NYC where I happily toil away trying to improve life for our community. You can google my pre-business life.
Bixby: Any insight or advice you would give to an aspiring entrepreneur in NYC?
Of course I’d suggest you take full advantage of the content on digital.nyc and take advantage of my open door policy. But more generally: Talk to your customers all the time to iteratively guide product development. If you don’t, you won’t know if what what you’re building is what the customer wants. Finally, give to your community. Share with everyone. You’ll find that NYC is a wonderful, collaborative community that gives in return.