New Haven, the birthplace of the hamburger and automatic revolver, was recently named as the ideal location in the country to launch a tech startup by Verizon.
The rankings, which were released last month and include 11 other cities from across the country, rely on information such as population, internet strength, cost of living and competitive salary as criteria. The rankings selected over 300 metro areas in America and aggregated data to compile its ratings. New Haven and Barnstable, Massachusetts, are the only cities in the ranking situated in the New England region, while more than half of the ranked cities are located in California, Washington or Oregon. Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81, the city’s economic development administrator, expressed excitement at the ranking and said the city has enjoyed a long history as a center of technological invention, citing Eli Whitney, class of 1785, and his contribution to the Industrial Revolution.
“Innovation and startups are very much part of the brand that distinguishes New Haven from New York and Boston,” Nemerson said.
He said that New Haven is successful at attracting startup companies partly because of the values, resources and students that Yale University brings to surrounding neighborhoods. The youthfulness of the city, due in part to the college students who choose to reside in the city after graduation, combined with relatively low living costs and great networking system are some of the reasons for New Haven’s appeal, he added.
Michael Nicastro, CEO of Continuity, a New Haven-based startup dedicated to automating compliance management for financial institutions, said New Haven possesses great talent and resources. Between the many colleges and universities, he added that the company always has access to the newest, freshest minds for whatever position the company may need.
He lauded New Haven’s location, saying it is well-situated for commuters as well as those coming in from farther distances and, in particular, transportation hubs like New York.
“New Haven is also a growing city where more and more people are choosing to live,” Nicastro said. “The wide access to the arts, museums and other cultural events as well as a vibrant restaurant and entertainment scene attracts an educated population. The draw of these innovative driven minds is helpful to all businesses especially those in tech.”
He added that New Haven has many features that strengthen its competitiveness among other medium-sized urban centers, but that there is still room for further improvement. He cited costly parking and the city’s past reputation as crime-ridden as challenges that the city will continue to face.
According to Nicastro, exciting startups bring more talent to the area and are beneficial to businesses and New Haven at large. But most startups have been predominantly in the biotech or bioscience areas, he said, adding that it would be helpful to have more information and financial technology in New Haven.
Organizations like the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute also offer financial and intellectual assistance to Yalies interested in business, regardless of whether these enterprises are technology-related, according to Peter Zhou ’19, a developer for Happy Hour, a student startup that strives to streamline the online food-ordering process.
Zhou, whose teammates applied to an eight-week summer training camp and a $15,000 fellowship for Happy Hour provided by YEI said he would like to see YEI establish connections with other business incubators in other higher-education institutions. He added that the abundance of networking opportunities is one of the main reasons why Silicon Valley became the hub of tech startups.
“You can gain experience from people who are doing the kind of things you are doing,” he said. “Compared to academics, tech startup is much more free-form. The best way to do it is to see what others have done in the past. At the heart of a startup is really just a vision of how you see the world in the future and a will to act on it.”
Orlando, Florida, was the runner-up, according the rankings.