This past Friday, dozens of NYC tech startups opened their doors for Walkabout NYC. For one afternoon, the public was invited to waltz in for a tour and a chat with founders and employees.
My first stop of the day was Sonar.me, located in the Flatiron and sharing a space with a few other startups. It’s founder, Brett, immediately greeted us with a smile and a handshake. Sonar is a mobile app that pulls data from Foursquare and Facebook. When you check-in at a location, it analyzes all the other Foursquare users who are at the same place to see if you are connected on Facebook, either as friends or friends of friends. Since launching at Disrupt, Sonar has seen incredible hockey-stick-shaped growth. The friendly atmosphere of this startup was a promising start for the rest of the day.
However, the next two places I visited were lackluster in comparison. DreamIt Ventures and Clickable also opened their doors to the public. Clickable had a more formalized tour, and while the tour guide emphasized the laid-back nature of their office cultures, the vibes were definitely much more corporate. At DreamIt, we were met with a completely different experience – door opened to a large and disorganized floor, and nobody to greet us. After speaking to a couple of employees, we were told that DreamIt signed up for Walkabout NYC without even notifying its startups to expect visitors… no wonder there wasn’t a welcome wagon.
Of course, the Walkabout wouldn’t have been complete without a stop at Hunch, where frozen margaritas were being handed out thanks to the hard work of their interns. Kelly, the VP of Marketing, walked us through the Hunch tastegraph and all the sexy things you can do with the API. I also met up with Kui, a friend from Columbia who is interning there for the summer!
My last stop of the day was Vimeo, which arguably had the crown jewel of all startup work spaces. Located in the IAC building in Chelsea, the Vimeo offices oversee the river as well as the midtown skyline. Andrea, a community manager, greeted us in the lobby and took us on a tour of their beautiful offices. Walls were painted with that super-cool chalkboard base and decorated with chalk art by local high school students. The 9th floor of the building also features a Google-esque cafeteria, well-stocked with drinks, snacks, and bagels. While Vimeo’s offices were spacious, Andrea told us that they were already outgrowing the space and will soon need to further expand.
While my feet weren’t happy by the end of the day, the people I met and the insider peek into the NYC startup culture was definitely worth it.