Where should your startup be (video)

I live in Manhattan NY. I also work here in the west village, at the headquarters of the company I’m at, Taboola. Originally I started this business in Israel, Tel-Aviv, and moved as soon as I could. Mainly as a superstar (and great guy) joined to manage the Israeli site and lead our tech/product (http://goo.gl/Xzt8) in israel. In addition,  our business required us here close to our customers (http://goo.gl/5YLG) . Good move.

Recently, there is a lot of buzz, noise, and people questioning this. Is NY the right place for entrepreneurs to be, and if so, what type of companies should be here? Is there enough capital, access to customers/business, technologists?

I thought I’ll write my personal take on this, being here over a year.

NY is amazing. And this is why you want to be here (and in my humble opinion, only here):

(1) It’s really fun. Manhattan has this rare global combination of great business, culture, and social life. I like to think that “work hard/play hard” is important. Have fun while working your ass off. Your colleagues, employees, and people you work with will notice that you’re enjoying yourself. People like to work with people they like. “There is nothing you can’t do”.

(2) it’s cost effective. If you’re here, it’s highly likely that most of your prospects, customers, and in general people you’d love to have coffee with — will pass by Manhattan in a similar frequency to the one you desire. Btw, if they never come here, not sure you really want to meet them. As you probably care for expense, traveling, etc – that’s just great deal. You just need to be available, and here.

(3) Capital is in good shape with really good early stage investors like Fred Wilson orChris Dixon and a lot of good east coast VCs looking to invest (like Spark capital, Bessemer, Venrock and others). So anything from early seeds to A, and B rounds

(4) Great startup community to share ideas, circulate data, and learn from each other’s mistakes (companies like Blip.tv, AnyClip, hunch, 5min, Foresquare, Boxee, Wix, GameGround, Outbrain, Etsy, Tremor, Howcast and many others)

(5) if your business generate revenue like ours from advertising, it’s too obvious why you want to be here, so I’m just moving to (6)

(6) Lots of media, and local business you can tap into and introduce your ideas and products (Time Warner, Turner, MSNBC..)

(7) if by any chance, you have an Israeli office in tandem – it’s better to have 7 hours time difference than the west coast which is 10 hours. Harder

Why I think you shouldn’t start here, and come when you can and it’s the right time:

(1) it’s expensive. Not necessarily much more than other places (for instance, engineer in Israel cost similarly to one here in NY). But in general, Manhattan is no cheap place to do anything which puts a big-question on us trying to be frugal

(2) Leverage your competitive advantage. Many entrepreneurs come from different background. Some come from technology, some from sales, some marketing. if you have an advantage elsewhere, in my mind you should heavily consider starting there, or at least have a branch there. For instance, we have serious team of top-class Mathematicians working in our Israeli office on our video recommendation algorithms, and we all started together in the early days, scratching our head – how the hell you predict what people want to watch next. it was really important to have that team, and build the product’s first version together. Not that I think it’s impossible to find good folks at Stanford, only for us it was easier to access the top/of-the-top guys in Israel given we grew up there, and spent many years in the army with each other.

I hope this helps. Feel free to comment about anything if you agree/disagree.

“now you’re in New York!!!
These streets will make you feel brand new,
the lights will inspire you,
Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York

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