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startup in times square

I Brought My Startup Company To Times Square

One of the craziest experiences I have ever had in New York was bringing my business to a Times Square building when I was younger.  We thought we were a bunch of hotshot “techies” with the next best thing since sliced bread and had received a lot of amazing attention for the real estate tech we had been incubating with NetZero, the free dialup internet access company so many were familiar with.  We were afforded space originally in what was originally the Bloomingdale’s building in White Plains next to the White Plains Mall to get operations going until we could stake out on our own.  Not fancy digs at all, but plenty of space to spread out and grow and the startup gestated.  After months of grinding we were awarded our first big investment and it laid the plans for our move into New York! 

My partners and I at the time decided we needed to “make a mark” in New York and part of the way to doing that was to take a prestigious, high profile location like Times Square.  After lots of looking, we settled on a space located at 41st Street and Broadway.  We thought what an achievement for a bunch of 20-somethings!  Months and months of planning went into the move and the space specifically.  We had all the drippings of the dot com era - brightly colored painted walls in crayola crayon colors like yellow, orange, red, green, blue, purple, high exposed ceilings, swank modern looking lighting, each private office and meeting room had one entire wall painted with chalkboard paint so we could draw on, ping pong tables, fridges and a break room stocked with snacks and good stuff, glass fishtanks-like conference rooms and large windows.  It felt more like a playground than a work space.  And in many ways it was our professional play space. 

glass fish tank nyc conference room

We were a relatively tight knit company where everyone knew everyone else, we worked really hard together and played hard together too.  Once we settled in and the “newness” wore off however, the reality of having an office in Times Square and New York City started to settle on us.  Because of all the access and in some cases lack of access, that’s where things started to go sideways.  Very quickly, my partners and I plus many in the company started going out more frequently.  There were several hush-hush in office romances taking place.  Our hours began to lengthen and inch closer to 12 hour workdays. 

time square lunch delivery

Our office started to feel much like a jail cell.  Not because it wasn’t cool anymore, but there were many reasons.  Just eating a meal became a complete chore for example.  Because we were in Times Square and there is a constant flow of tourists flooding the area, all food establishments and restaurants were slammed for what seemed 24/7 around the clock, forget lunch.  It didn’t matter if you went out or had delivery.  To get delivery during a reasonable lunch time, you had to place the orders around 10-10:30am… who knows what they want to eat for lunch in the morning? 

Leaving the office was worse.  Lines, busy sidewalks full of people stopping, taking photos, lost, etc.  Slowly but surely, the thing we thought would be a beacon of our success and inspire us to new levels morphed into the reason why the company felt like it was beginning to unravel from the inside out.  I am grateful for all the experiences I had, good or bad, it taught me much about how to do it better the next time around… or what specifically to never do again.


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