Three Thirty Five


Grand Central Tech is currently accepting applications for its 2016-2017 class. CLICK HERE to start your application now! GCT is also holding an Open House on Tuesday, April 5th from 6 PM – 8 PM for companies interested in seeing the space and learning more about GCT! Stop by to check out the space and meet with the GCT team. RSVP here.

Odds are, you know someone with a respiratory ailment. 50 million Americans have chronic respiratory disease, with 24 million suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 26 million suffering from asthma. And yet, the standard of care for pulmonary patients has not evolved in decades, requiring manual tracking of lung function and medication utilization – a burdensome life-long responsibility – and even the smallest error or omission resulting in an attack or visit to the Emergency Room. One of our very own Grand Central Tech companies is transforming respiratory care through smart mobile devices; empowering pulmonary patients to engage in their care through a proprietary connected health platform, comprising offline sensors, mobile spirometer, gamified mobile application, and real-time analytics. The result: reduction of Emergency Room visits to ZERO in current clinical trials. You’ve heard about connected devices and the future of wearables? Well this is where the talk starts turning into dramatic results.

Meet Cohero Health and CEO and Co-Founder, Melissa Manice. The New York based health tech startup and the brilliant Ph.D. and Clinical Researcher turned Chief Executive Officer have developed an FDA cleared suite of products and services that is redefining treatment and standard of care for patients with respiratory ailments.

What is Cohero Health’s Mission and what challenges does your company solve?

The word “Cohero” in Latin means “to adhere” and “to stick together.” Our mission is really about empowering respiratory patients to actively engage in their own care. Using sensor-based technology and an engaging mobile health platform; we dramatically improve medication adherence and bolster care coordination between patients and caregivers.

Cohero Health offers wireless medication inhaler sensors (HeroTrackers) for both control and rescue medication, and an FDA cleared, clinical grade wireless spirometer that gives patients the ability to measure critical lung function with the same accuracy as much larger and more expensive devices traditionally accessible only in clinic. Both tools pair with our mobile application (BreatheSmart) to capture objective data in real-time. We are the first and only company able to track both medication utilization (adherence) and lung function in real-time and by engaging and empowering patients and stakeholders, we have reduced emergency hospital visits down to zero during trials.

How did you get started? How did you end up where you are today?

My background is in academic clinical medicine, which you’d think would be a mismatch with technology, but it’s been quite the opposite! During my time in academia and through my research, I gained a deep sense of the pain points facing the chronic pulmonary patient community. I became impatient with the notion that we had identified the gaps in management, care delivery and care coordination, but there was still a huge opportunity to create better solutions and reimagine care. I was inspired to build a solution rather than to continue to analyze the challenges pulmonary patients face.

How has the New York tech ecosystem changed in the last 5 years?

Grand Central Tech (GCT) is really my foray into the New York tech scene and is my first home outside growing the company within the world of clinical medicine. I think the landscape is changing and I do think places like GCT are giving tech startups the chance to grow here in New York. We’ve been able to show we’re in an efficient market outside of the Silicon Valley, we’re open to travel and collaborating with remote teams. New York has also yielded great design and engineering talent.

How has Grand Central Tech helped your business grow this past year?

GCT has truly been a catalyst for our growth. Having office space in Manhattan is an incredible gift when you are outgrowing your ability to effectively grow in your apartment. New York City rent prices are prohibitive to a company that is trying to be lean and is using every precious penny to build product.

The GCT network, from corporate partners to founders, has been a valuable sounding board. When you are seeking to leverage talent outside your own roster, it is great to gain access to talent that can help you grow your business, ranging from designers to engineers to payroll services.

To learn more about Cohero Health, visit their website and follow Melissa Manice on Twitter @melissamanice

Grand Central Tech is holding an Open House on Tuesday, April 5th from 6 PM – 8 PM for companies applying to its 2016-2017 class! Stop by to check out the space and meet with the GCT team. RSVP here.

Startup Spotlight: Five Questions with Common Founder and CEO, Brad Hargreaves

It’s rare to find a New Yorker who has more than 10 years of experience working in technology, but that’s exactly what you’ll get when meeting Brad Hargreaves. Brad’s resume includes co-founding General Assembly, building the company’s education business into a global institution, and serving as a venture partner at Maveron, a leading investor in consumer-facing companies. He currently serves as the founder and CEO of Common, a company offering flexible, shared housing in major cities. Brad has been named to Vanity Fair’s “The Next Establishment,” Inc Magazine’s “30 Under 30,” and Business Insider’s “Silicon Alley 100.”

With that track record, it’s clear that Brad knows a thing or two about building and running a successful company. His experience has also given him major insights into the tech ecosystem, how Silicon Valley influences Silicon Alley (and vise versa), and what’s next for the tech industry.

Get insights from Brad below and on his website, and follow Brad on Twitter @bhargreaves.

How did you get started? How did you end up where you are today?

When I co-founded General Assembly in 2010, my partners and I sought to revolutionize the way technology, design and business were taught, and give people the resources they needed to get jobs in these areas. Now, General Assembly comprises of 15 campuses in four continents.

While at General Assembly, I realized how difficult it was for students to find housing in New York City – you can actually ask anyone who has moved here how difficult it is. Between finding roommates on Craigslist, the expenses of moving, and the fact that leases are a pain, I realized there had to be a better solution. This is the idea behind Common – we’re facilitating group living by screening roommates, providing services and conveniences, and encouraging active community management. People today are delaying home buying and moving into cities at a rapid pace, and the average job stay is 16 months – owning a home doesn’t make sense for city-dwelling millennials. The need for flexible housing is clear.

What keeps you up at night? And what keeps you coming back to work day after day?

The answers to these questions definitely coincide. Great customer experiences start with a motivated and fulfilled team. If anything keeps me up at night, it’s making sure that my team is happy, tackling the right challenges and always leveling up. My team is also the reason I come to work everyday. When the team you build understands the company mission and you are all working toward the end goal, work is so much more enjoyable.

You’ve led highly successful companies; how does your business model play into that?

The most difficult part of being an entrepreneur is knowing how to balance being opportunistic and being strategic. If you’re always opportunistic, you’ll lose focus and will do many things poorly rather than one thing very well. But if you’re always strategic and focused, you’ll miss opportunities that come along and may lose sight of the bigger picture.

Common is thinking about housing as a consumer product. It’s bringing a user experience design mindset – product thinking – to an industry that has not traditionally prioritized great customer experience and word-of-mouth referral. But those are incredibly powerful levers, even in the housing market.

How has being at GCT helped your business over the past year?

One, it’s great to share a space with so many talented people. It’s wonderful to have that wealth of experience in such close proximity. Two, the GCT team really cares deeply about the success of each company in the program. I love having someone – our landlord, at that – on our side.

How has the New York tech ecosystem changed in the last five years?

In 2009, when tech wasn’t quite cool yet, the New York ecosystem was more of a small community. Before I co-founded General Assembly, I was working at a gaming company and went to a technology-focused event at Copper Union. It was the first year of the event and there were maybe 100 people in attendance. They’re still hosting the event today, but they’ve hit capacity and there is a waiting list. The number of companies and entrepreneurs in New York now is huge.

One of the challenges of building a growth phase company in New York is that very few people have taken a technology startup from zero to public. This has gotten so much better in the last couple of years, and I foresee it getting even better. Silicon Valley has seen at least four company lifecycles over the last 20 years, which is a huge benefit that New York hasn’t seen yet. Yet, New York is getting there with companies like General Assembly, Etsy and Tumblr. We’re starting to see more New York founders becoming VCs, and business leaders emerging.

Interested in joining Brad, Common and the rest of the GCT Community? Apply here by April 28th!

Each year in the course of our application season, we tend to get a lot of questions about who we are, what we stand for, what’s in it for us and how we’re able to sustain our model. For the most part, these are pretty reasonable questions with a shade of healthy, “NYC-brand” cynicism towards a deal that sometimes seems to good to be true. In the past, we’ve tried to highlight some of our core beliefs, from our mission, to our commitment to diversity efforts, to what we look for in companies and why we don’t take any equity. The simple fact is, our unique relationship with the landlord means that we don’t have to charge rent and we feel that building a community of the absolute best tech companies in New York City is best accomplished by not asking what’s in it for us first; by being deliberately, and perhaps even a bit overly, entrepreneur-friendly.

But while we’re incredibly proud of the resources we offer our companies (and the value of a full year’s worth of free rent without giving up any equity is definitely compelling), we feel pretty strongly that looking at it purely in this way ignores the strength of our most important asset: our community. That might sound like some more fuzzy, feel good hot air, but in fact, it’s the companies that are a part of GCT that define our culture — what GCT actually is. And it’s buy-in to that culture that we think makes GCT such a special place where companies can truly grow, work together and accelerate their growth.

Below, we’ve included a link to the GCT Code of Conduct, which every company signs when joining our community. If you want to know what would be expected of you in order to participate in GCT look no further than this document. We believe that the commitment abiding by the Code of Conduct entails is a key part of what makes GCT tick — setting the “rules of the road” for how we build a culture of excellence and trust.

THE GCT CODE OF CONDUCT – Click Here To View

A few things are worth noting here:

  • This is a good faith commitment among all community members — not just between GCT and each individual company.
  • This is a bit of a living document. Each class will have its own mark on it as we continue to grow and mature.
  • Hopefully this helps continue to push off the nagging feeling that GCT is “too good to be true.” There really is no “gotcha”.
  • If you’re interested in being a part of this community, or know someone who is, apply now!

    Now in the midst of our application season, we get a lot of questions about our unique model, and why we do things the way we do. We often answer these questions by explaining our mission which has guided GCT since its inception. It recently occurred to us we should be more public about our mission, so we have posted it on our website and wanted to distribute it to you all here. Should you have any feedback or thoughts, we’d love to hear from you (hello@grandcentraltech.com; @gctech).

    Grand Central Tech is guided by a two-part mission.

    First, to create a single point of density of the best technologists and entrepreneurs in NY by leveraging all of the ecosystem’s key advantages in their favor. In particular, it is our goal to not only accelerate them by removing headaches that otherwise encumber a startup (including space, legal, accounting, etc), but to provide them with the competitive advantages of access to customers, mentors, talent and investors. Drawing in the scale of resources from our corporate partners is a key component of driving these advantages. Success in this regard will increase the efficiency of the energy and resources being poured into innovation by both the corporate and startup worlds.

    But we’re not doing this in a vacuum. We appreciate the socioeconomic opportunity inherent in the economic shift towards technology we’re undergoing and intend to ensure that the broadest possible range of beneficiaries stand to benefit from the energy and resources being poured into the tech sector, and the opportunities that are coming out of it. We do this by selecting for a diverse community of tech companies without in the least sacrificing on quality and then challenging/enabling that community to engage in good corporate citizenship via our code of conduct and a number of outreach efforts – most notably our signature internship program that draws in young people from across the socioeconomic spectrum and provides them internships with our member companies.

    Last, in all cases, we would prefer to be working with and on technologies that are advancing the human condition; that are aiming for big, important goals… but which also have a credible path towards achieving them.

    Interested in being a part of a community like ours? APPLY NOW!

    Sometimes the hard way is the right way.

    Today, we opened applications for GCT’s third class. This is our signature moment of the year, and always causes us to pause and reflect. When we started Grand Central Tech two years ago, we did so with the goal of bringing together the very best technologists and entrepreneurs under one roof and materially advancing their prospects. Part of that equation is obviously the terms, and on this GCT’s zero-downside value proposition cannot be beat. We offer a full year at GCT’s awesome offices for free – no rent and no equity. But the more meaningful part of the equation has always been to create a competitive advantage for our companies by creating a best-of-breed environment for them to operate in, and delivering the most valuable resources they need to grow in a targeted way.

    GCT is sector and stage agnostic – we just want the very best companies working on the biggest opportunities. This has some wonderful advantages (versus, say, a sector specific program, or a stage specific program), namely that there is absolutely no (business level) competition among our teams, allowing everyone to work openly and share their know-how.

    But the fact that not everyone fits into the same mold also means that they all have very different needs. This, and the fact that our program operates over the course of a full year, means that we cannot and will not take a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to how we go about supporting our companies. You might say we run 18 bespoke accelerator programs every year, instead of a single one. Our model is predicated on being responsive to the unique needs of our companies. While this model may not “scale” like a software model… it really doesn’t need to. It needs to deliver real value on behalf of our companies and it needs to get better every day.

    We all know that starting a company and growing it successfully is one of the hardest things a person can do; this is true both psychologically and statistically. In addition to a ton of luck, success requires an incredible support network, grit and access to key resources – including talent, dollars from customers, and (often times) dollars from investors. Stats from GCT’s 2016 class show just how successfully these resources have been brought to bear – across the class headcount has grown 74% in the last six months alone, and new funding has topped $30 MM.

    As we embark on the process of bringing on board our third class, we’re proud to welcome two new team members that demonstrate our “doubling down” on our commitment to driving value to our companies.

    Galina Ozgur has come on board as GCT’s General Manager. In this role, Galina will focus exclusively and constantly on expanding and leveraging GCT’s resources on behalf of our companies. This includes identifying the right experts for our mentor platform, drawing in the heft of our corporate partners, and making our companies’ time at GCT the most productive twelve months of their lifecycle. She joins us from ERA, where she ran programs for the last four years.

    GCT’s new Director of Fundraising is Nelson Schubart. Nelson joins us from NYU Stern (he also ran recruiting for our last cycle and runs recruiting for InSITE Fellows) and he is dedicated entirely to working with each of our companies to make sure that they are prepared for their fundraising needs. That includes working on hitting key milestones, preparing decks, strategy and investor outreach. Consider him another full time resource to make sure that a major headache for startups no longer exists.

    At risk of turning ourselves into a meme, this is a little bit of a sand mandala — the ornate, beautiful sand murals built by Tibetan Buddhist monks over a long period of time and then dismantled once they’ve been completed… to be done all over again. We’re not doing this the easy way, we’re trying to do it the best way for our companies and for NY Tech. And we wake up every day trying to do things just a bit better.

    If you’re interested in having access to these resources and working with us to really take your business to the next level, apply now. We’re so excited to see what the next year brings.

    Just under a year ago, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (“NYCEDC”) put out a request for proposals (“RFP”) for the development of an “Urban Tech Growth Hub”. Their goal was to find a location and an operator that could work with the City to build a premier community of tech companies specifically focused on the challenges (and opportunities) of urban living. It is with great pride that we are sharing NYCEDC’s announcement of Grand Central Tech’s having won its bid.

    This is a big moment for Grand Central Tech as an organization. In a little under two years we have established ourselves as a premier accelerator program; executed a verticalized real estate model that compounds the value of our community year over year while at the same time doing away with the headache of securing reasonably sized, priced, and timed (lease tenure) real estate; and demonstrated operational excellence at a level worthy of a multi-million dollar grant from the City (please pardon the minor bragging). If you were wondering why you hadn’t heard from us in a while… we’ve been hard at work.

    If you’re trying to keep score at home, this means that GCT will continue to function as an accelerator program with affiliated coworking space for graduates and also operate the Urban Tech Growth Hub, which, in the interests of super straightforward branding, we’re calling the Hub@GCT.

    So what exactly is going to happen at the Hub? Good question. First, we have to build it. Thanks to the ceaselessly remarkable generosity of the Milstein family, we are currently in the process of demoing and custom outfitting 50,000 square feet of space on the floor just above GCT at 335 Madison Avenue. We anticipate the space opening in June of 2016. Second, between now and then we will hire an Executive Director to run the space (and provide said ED with funding to build a staff around him/her). Third, we have to begin recruiting companies into the space.

    Broadly speaking though, we intend to capitalize on the NYCEDC’s considerable support (a minimum of $2.5MM) to go above and beyond even their expectations for the program. It is our ambition to build the Hub into a true leader, both nationally and internationally, exemplifying the importance and opportunity inherent in thoughtfully considering how and where tech can improve the urban environment. We want companies increasing the efficiency and sustainability with which we build new construction or retrofit existing construction; we want companies thoughtfully considering how IoT can be capitalized upon to improve insights around city resource usage; we want companies rethinking sewage systems to help clean our waterways; we want companies rethinking education, financial services, community empowerment/advocacy for the modern urban, environment; and on and on. We are being intentionally broad. We intend to select for excellence, not some preconceived notion of what urban tech does or doesn’t mean.

    If you are reading this right now and work at a company that you think falls under the umbrella of “urban tech”, or know someone who does, please sign up for our mailing list here. We anticipate creating flexible and heavily subsidized office solutions tailor-made for companies that range in size from 2 people to 75 people, so no need to limit interest based on company size.

    If you are reading this right now and think you or someone you know would make an ideal candidate for our Executive Director role, please check out the job description/application here.

    It is a real honor to have won this grant and to be tasked with this challenge. A big thanks is in order to all of our friends, partners, and advisors for their support throughout.

    Onwards and upwards.