Category: News


Earlier this summer, we announced our plans to expand GCT’s footprint to include the Hub @ GCT, built in partnership with the NYCEDC and focused on building a community of growth stage companies working on Urban Tech. Today, we’re proud to formally unveil the space with our ribbon cutting ceremony, announce that GE and Lowe’s have joined us as corporate partners (along with Microsoft) AND open applications for the Hub. A lot going on in one post!


There’s much to be said about the Hub opening (and you can see NYCEDC’s formal press release here), but for us, today’s event demonstrates 1.) Our belief that the City represents the single most important platform upon which breakthrough technologies will be built over the next 50 years, and 2.) Our commitment to building out the NYC tech ecosystem in a holistic way by drawing together the scale of New York – both the corporate and government worlds – on behalf of and in concert with the startup community.

Via NYCEDC various City Agencies have agreed to both put forward concrete challenges/opportunities for urban tech companies to consider and pilot technologies developed in the Hub where relevant. This is a profound opportunity when you consider that there are more residents in NYCHA alone than in all of Baltimore. Likewise, our corporate partners are committed to mentoring our companies on how they can achieve scale most quickly potentially even by piggy backing on their own like-minded initiatives.

Our new program will draw on many of GCT’s strengths, including our incredible network of companies and mentors, but allow us to serve later stage companies than we typically work with via flexible, discounted private office space that hasn’t really existed in NYC until now. Toward that end, we are offering up to 2 months of free rent to any company that applies to the Hub by October 31st (even if you don’t plan to move by then). We will be reviewing these applications on a rolling basis, so if you are a growth stage company working on urban tech, APPLY NOW!

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First and foremost, we hope everyone has a safe, relaxing, enjoyable Labor Day Weekend with friends and loved ones soaking up the last licks of summer before we all jump into Fall. It’s a good time to slow down and ponder some macro themes. Here are a few we’ll be working through on our walks on the beach or strolls through the neighborhood:

1. We think “Reverse Manifest Destiny” is in full swing.

Mattemark put out some great data recently showing the ascendancy of NY: New York startups, on the other hand, have more than doubled their relative share of the dollar volume invested into new tech companies nationwide between 2006 and today. Many of the companies founded between 2009 and 2012, when “Silicon Alley” was really coming into its own, found success and stayed put, and now serve as anchors in NYC’s startup community. So far in Q3 2016, New York City accounts for over 25% of total VC dollar volume.

We’re finding this to be true just anecdotally as well. During our interview process for our most recent class we talked to a number of CA-based companies looking to move to NY, and in the past month we’ve spoken with a handful of VC’s who have moved to NY from other markets, all citing generally the same thing – the desire to access what is ultimately a bigger market and to leave behind what at times can be a stifling monoculture for a more diverse economy where the most notable “unicorn” of the last year was a Broadway play… Keep it coming, we say.

2. We think Cities are the next platform

In the same way internet, and mobile internet, was the platform of the last 15 years, we think Cities and the urbanization of modern living will be the platform of the next 15 years (at least). Already, over 50% of humanity lives in cities and that number is only increasing. We’re scratching the surface of several breakthrough innovations around mobility (car-sharing, self-driving cars); delivery (drones); energy production and storage (solar, wind, batteries), and that’s just to name a few, but all are currently showing the most promise in rural environments as opposed to urban areas where space limitations and complex infrastructure make implementation difficult. And yet these are the biggest markets. Something’s gotta give, and we think the time is now.

This makes us particularly excited for our Urban Tech Growth Hub. We’re putting our money where our mouth is, and so is the City — who is supporting this effort not only financially, but by opening their agencies to the deployment of these critical technologies. That might not seem like much, but when one agency (NYCHA) has more residents than all of Baltimore, having a pilot there matters in a big way. Combining the Hub with our existing accelerator and coworking spaces, GCT has become New York’s largest, single, tech-focused footprint, and its most selective — and we’re excited to play a role in making the world’s best city even better.

3. The gulf between the corporate world and the startup world is shrinking from both sides.

We’re all watching the M&A market heat up… In the last month, we’ve seen two of the largest, quickest acquisitions ever — Dollar Shave Club by Unilever, and by Walmart. But there’s actually more to it than these big scores.

Much was made of a “funding slow down in 2016”, but from our view, more than any slow down, the rules changed. For startups, successfully raising a Series A now increasingly requires not just growth statistics (i.e. users), but revenue growth and the existence of large, scaled customers.

On the flip side, the days of corporate innovation theater may just be past us. Every day, we’re speaking with corporations who are coming to grips with startup engagement A.) being critical for identifying growth in a low-yield world and for attracting and retaining top talent, and B.) realize that isn’t accomplished by wearing blue jeans or converting the lunch room into an “innovation hub”.

Weathergage Capital put together this great visual last week around the “Series A” Gap:

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 10.37.40 AM

There are many factors creating and influencing this gap, but surely one of the best ways to close it is via alignment with a scaled customer(s). The push-pull dynamic of startups seeking scale and corporations seeking innovation will effectively ensure that, where alignment between the two are found, the startups best positioned to take on scaled problems will cross the transom to Series A.

And we think that alignment is a good thing. It’s likely no coincidence that, because of the corporate world beginning to productively tip its hand, the startup sector feels like it’s turning a corner towards taking on more mature, broadly impactful challenges/opportunities. Pursuing innovation was always exciting; pursuing innovation that has the opportunity to achieve immediate scale has always been the dream. We’re excited to be a part of this story — and to help build the rulebook of how to introduce the scale of the corporate world to the innovation of the startup world.

Have a wonderful last weekend of summer everyone!

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It gives all of us at Grand Central Tech immense joy to proudly announce the opening of the Hub@GCT. There’s much we can say about the space.

  • 50,000 sq ft of brand new, stunning office space
  • Tailor-sized office suites to accommodate companies from 2 people to 100
  • Heavily discounted rents vs comparable options
  • Lounge and event space capable of accommodating up to 125 people
  • And much more…

  • But seeing is believing. So whether you think you’re a potential tenant, or you’re just interested in learning more about the Hub and urban tech, we invite you to come see the space on August 4th from 4-8pm!

    RSVP here.

    Taken together with Grand Central Tech and Build (our coworking space), the Hub brings us to 100,000 square feet of office space and ~100 companies under our purview. Since our first cohort of companies walked through our doors in 2014, our goal was to bring together under one roof a community of best-of-breed startups and give them the resources required for them to scale their visions at unbeatable terms. The Hub represents a major enhancement of our ability to do just that. Across our three properties we are bringing to bear premier entrepreneurial talent, meaningful industry insight from our corporate partners, and government input on urban tech priorities whose solutions aren’t only important, but also lucrative.

    Please stop by on the 4th. We’d love to show you around.

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    We hope everyone is having a fantastic summer. Please pardon the recent radio silence on our end; we’ve been very busy here at GCT. Today, we announced our third cohort of 19 companies for 2016 – 2017 with fantastic coverage from Business Insider.

    Selected from over 1,000 applications, this year’s was our most competitive class to date with a <2% acceptance rate. The 2016 - 2017 class builds on the momentum and excellence of our previous two classes, which collectively have raised ~$90MM and increased in headcount by ~80%. Furthermore, in keeping with GCT objectives, this newest class is not just excellent and poised for success, but diverse as well. Across three classes now, nearly ⅔ (64%) of GCT companies are founded by either a woman, veteran, or person of color.

    Taken together with the fact that GCT continues to operate our 45k sq ft Build coworking space for GCT-graduate companies, and that we will be opening the 50k sq ft Hub@GCT this August, GCT now operates the largest, explicitly tech-focused community of startups under one roof that we know of in New York City. That each company is vetted as they walk through the door likewise ensures our curated community is not just large, but also remarkably high achieving.

    Put another way… With over 100,000 sq. feet and ~100 premier technology companies under its purview, GCT has built one of the largest, most selective and simultaneously most inclusive verticalized tech ecosystems in the world.

    This is a long road to have traveled in two-and-a-half years and we’re deeply appreciative of all of your support in helping us get to this point.

    Without further ado then, click here for a brief description of each of the 19 companies in GCT’s 2016 – 2017 class!

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    With the deadline to apply for GCT’s next class only two days away (!!), we’re seeing applications come in at a breakneck pace. It’s humbling to be on the receiving end of this enthusiasm and really exciting to see just how far the NY tech ecosystem has come in such a short period of time.

    By any measure, the NY ecosystem has grown materially since we started GCT, if you look at things like VC funding, new company formation, great exits, etc. We’re never interested in another “Alley vs. Valley” discussion. Instead, we think this activity is indicative not only of just how deep (and growing) the bench of talent and expertise is here in NY, but also of how strong the pull of building something truly is. Here’s the thing: building a company is one of the hardest things you can do; we know it first hand. Having an awesome team comprised of people who are not only experts, but who care is both the only way to really survive that kind of stress and to actually enable something to take flight.

    So it’s no surprise that when we’re reviewing applications, one of the things that we look at is the strength of the team. That doesn’t mean just looking for a collection of sector experts with great backgrounds and skills — it also means looking for people that want to work together to build a shared dream. Because when the glitz and glam of your launch or seed announcement is gone, the only way you’re going to joyfully work until 3 AM is if you believe in and trust each other. Is it really any surprise that a team built like this can outperform a larger, better funded corporate army?

    But not every team is out in the world as an established startup. We can all probably think about jobs we’ve had where we loved our team but hated management, or at least thought management wasn’t taking full advantage of the collective potential of the group. And really the choices have been to stay and endure, leave as individuals, or launch a business. (This last option may have been particularly attractive over the last ~5 years when it seemed anyone who could write a line of code was able to raise a cool million, but those days appear to be drawing to a close and there’s good reason to question whether all this venture activity hasn’t had a net negative impact on economic output.) To date, the wholesale recruiting/movement of teams has been relegated to some areas of finance and costly acqui-hires – a very risky goal for any startup to aspire towards outright. So when Stripe, a company we really admire, announced their “bring your own team” initiative last night, they pointed the way to a new alternative that we’ve often thought of here:

    The benefits of this approach are clear — chemistry, familiarity, and shared vision are already assured within a team. There are certainly potential downsides to this approach, including the danger of simply promoting the “in crowd” at the expense of diversity, and of course the risk (and increased cost) of an entire team not working out as opposed to just one individual. But it’s precisely this kind of creative thinking that represents a competitive advantage for companies that are bold enough to act. It also happens to be one area where a corporation with deep pockets can flex their muscles to gain a real, sustainable competitive advantage against startups.

    And if this new kind of recruiting works at scale, we’re confident that it will have an unintended positive effect on the ecosystem in general: channelling and activating the efforts of committed and gifted people (specifically engineers) toward ideas with demonstrated scale and opportunity (therefore accelerating that growth). This means cutting down on the creation of frivolous or derivative/duplicative businesses that may just be a result of a frothy market for funding at the earliest levels, AND reorienting corporate dollars from a “spray-and-pray” approach to identifying entrepreneurial talent and “innovation” to a targeted mechanism by which vetted ideas AND proven skills can be absorbed wholesale.

    Facilitating this level of efficiency and growth is core to what we are building at GCT. Are you a part of a team that you think fits this profile? Are you a hiring manager that wants to explore more? Let’s start a conversation.

    And don’t forget to apply by THURSDAY!

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    Last week we hosted our annual Open House to offer interested startups and entrepreneurs an opportunity to check out our space in advance of our application window closing on April 28th (CLICK HERE TO APPLY NOW). Nearly 600 people ended up stopping by, all with excellent questions and incredibly impressive businesses.

    Want to see what it’s like to process that many people through a 2-hour Open House? Check out this time-lapse video we made — See if you can spot yourself or someone you know!

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