City Encourages Tech Start-Ups with Funding and Free Rent

| March 22, 2012 3:38 PM video

Taxi Treats CEO Brian Shimmerlik presents his proposal at Columbia University. The taxi vending machine will distribute items like Altoids, 5-hour-energy and Clif bars. MetroFocus/Georgia Kral

Two new technology companies each got a $17,500 boost from New York City on Wednesday.

The NYC Next Idea competition, presented by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and in collaboration with Columbia University, awarded the funding to two start-ups  hoping for a chance to start a tech business in New York City.

The competition, specifically aimed at recent graduates and students working in new technology, is in its third year. This is just one of the ways the City is fostering innovation in how technology can improve services, increase access to goods and products and connect people in ways not possible before. Venture capitalists and angel investors serve as the judges of the teams, who have traveled from across the globe.

One winner courted New York City with a service for people on-the-go. Taxi Treats is developing a vending machine for taxi cabs that will dole out items like snacks and Advil. The machine will use wireless technology to let the company know when treats need restocking.

StylSize, from Toronto, Canada, yet soon to be based in New York, is designing a mobile and web app to aid the online clothes shopper. StylSize maps a user’s body size and matches it to the appropriate size clothing  found in participating online retail outlets.

“It actually drapes a 3D image of a dress on an [image of a] body,” explained Stylsize Chief Financial Officer Amy Bergenwall.

In addition to $17,500, the EDC announced that each team would receive six months of free office space in New York City.

“This is going to go a long way,” said Taxi Treats CEO Brian Shimmerlik, a graduate student at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

The competition is divided into two tracks: NYC Connect and International. To be an NYC Connect team, one of the members must be New York-based. The International Track is for entrepreneurs from around the world. While the EDC is exploring ways to assist foreign winners in obtaining work visas, and the finalists met with immigration lawyers while in New York, it is ultimately up to each person to acquire the proper work documents.

More than 270 business ideas were submitted from 62 countries, and the number of submissions has grown with each year, according to Seth W. Pinsky, EDC President.

The NYC Next Idea winners pose with the panel of judges. Left to right: Jonathan Axelrod, Managing Director of the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator; Taxi Treats members Brian Shimmerlik and Tomas Grosskopf; Stylsize members Amy Bergenwall and Dan McCann; Brian Cohen, Founder/CEO at Launch.it and Chairman of the New York Angels; and Noah J. Kroloff, Partner at NGN Capital. Photo courtesy of NYCEDC.

“NYC Next Idea continues to generate tremendous interest from cutting-edge innovators, encouraging them to start their businesses right here in New York City,” said Pinsky.

Both winning teams said New York City was the optimum place to start their business. Dan McCann, Founder and CEO of Stylsize said working in New York City just made sense.

“It’s a fantastic tech hub and the center of the fashion world,” said McCann.

Taxi Treats’ Shimmerlik just wants to be in the middle of the action. “New York is on the cutting edge of technology and I want to further innovation here, it’s my town,” he said, adding that under Bloomberg, support for tech companies has flourished.  “The future of tech in New York is very bright.”

Part of that promising future is the tech campus on Roosevelt Island, which will be a legacy of Michael R. Bloomberg’s mayoral career. The campus, run by Cornell University and its partner, Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology, is expected to be a hot-bed of even more technological entrepreneurship.

MetroFocus‘  first TV special, which was broadcast on THIRTEEN and WLIW in December, explored the tech campus and what it will mean for the economic future of New York City.

WATCH VIDEO:

Host Rafael Pi Roman talks to some of the key players behind the tech campus about what the new university will mean for New York City. This special includes Jane Pauley’s interview with the city’s first-ever Entrepreneur At Large, Steve Rosenbaum.


  • DrKoshi

    Ok, inviting techys to NYC is one thing, how about changing archaic zoning laws that is so pointless.
    Old business as in veterinary hospitals have ALL broken the law, so perhaps the law is of no use that puts veterinary hospitals in the manufacturing district…..why?
    There are no horses coming to a hospital on 3rd avenue and 65th street

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