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The Five & Dime
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Friday
Jan072011

Silicon Alley Chamber of Commerce?

There continues to be lots of discussion internal to our community and with local political figures re: how to fan the flames that are raging in Silicon Alley right now.

Fred Wilson wrote an awesome post yesterday isolating 2 critical catalysts for NYC: 1) engineering talent, and 2) pervasive high speed internet access so that cheap neighborhoods can be put to use as start-up districts. Over Twitter these got awesomely coined as 'Hires & Wires,' and the post was possibly a response to an email Charlie O'Donnell sent earlier this week re: how best to use an audience with a local politician.

There needs to be a focal point for these discussions, ideas & efforts. Is it a naive idea to put together a Silicon Alley Chamber of Commerce, with the mission of focusing our community thinking around key challenges and advertising us to key external demographics?

- Would be set up as a non-profit

- Funded by VC's, law firms, recruiting firms, and a 'business association' membership fee from funded start-ups pro-rated by level of funding.

- Also potentially supported by job posting revenues and advertising

- 1-2 full-time, dedicated staff to run it

- A Board of Directors and an extensive Advisory panel

The programs would align to Hires & Wires or whatever key needs arise out of quarterly planning meetings. For example, the Hires program could include:

  • Creating an aggressive awareness/presence on key engineering campuses across US and possibly internationally - including coordinated recruitment drives akin to what the banks and consulting companies do at campuses. Institute a recruiting week for CS seniors.
  • Running a Silicon Alley job board (free or maybe Yoga-to-the-People-style donations) - I still contend part of the hiring problem here is that the start-up scene seems completely amorphous to engineers and other talent looking to join it. It's very hard to grock the universe of options.
  • Coordinating an Alley-wide summer internship program.
  • Running point with local universities to help integrate their programs into the start-up ecosystem and even to help support their recruitment efforts into key high schools. I've seen first-hand the power of the Stanford-Silion Valley integration - they are one in the same.
  • Definitive list of investors, meetups, events, dev groups (like hackny), incubators etc.
  • Possibly even a classifieds section for office space, equipment, services, whatever...

Charlie's initiative NextNY is an awesome community-based effort - with 3.000+ members and a lot of activity at the ground level. 

But to make a major leap forward on broad needs like Hires & Wires - I believe that will only happen through a concerted effort that is funded and staffed and supported by the top people and groups in the community - with a high degree of visibility.

Has anything like this already been attempted, or are their analogs in other industries?

 

 

 

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