Know-how and Networking: Insight from a General Assembly Course

As New York City continues to attract a competitive stream of innovators, investors and techies, all hoping to slice a piece of the big apple startup pie, it can seem a daunting and difficult task for novices to gain steady ground.

Thankfully for New York startup newbies, the city provides almost as many resources for those looking to start up as startups themselves.

Startup courses and workshops abound in the city, covering topics that range from growing an idea and honing your skills to securing financing and managing a staff.  And these educational offerings are not just for listening to lectures, they also provide an exceptional opportunity for networking with the like-minded.

Hosted Friday, September 13, 2013 by General Assembly (GA) in Manhattan and presented by Liz Vollman, Classes and Workshops Producer at GA, “Introduction to the New York Startup Community” provided a thorough and interactive discussion of how to maneuver in the city’s entrepreneurial environment whether you are looking to find an idea to develop or already have one.

Vollman kicked off the course with wise words from well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur and New York native, Steve Blank, “‘A startup is not a smaller version of a large company.  It’s a temporary organization designed to search for a scalable business model.’”  The statement exhibits the essential elements of planning, evolution and individualization as they relate to building a brand, a business—a startup.

While startups, even those sharing the same industry, may be as unique and different as fingerprints, they share the same revolutionary spirit.  Vollman spoke to the importance, particularly in New York, of past startups possessing the ability to “pave the way” for present and future endeavors.  This support, she continued, is a large reason the city promotes and is “very healthy” for startups.

Those within the startup community also assist each other through offering extensive opportunities for productive socializing (group or one-on-one) where experiences are shared and contacts are networked.  Vollman listed “mentors” as one of the groups that “defines an ecosystem.”

So, how do you build your network when you’re looking to get started?  There are many ways to “get involved in the community” as discussed by Vollman, including to “sign up for newsletters, attend meetups, happy hours, and demo days, participate in hackathons and Startup Weekends, and blog about your experiences, adventures, and learnings.”

Those starting up in New York need networking and they need know-how.  Blending the two in a vast array of informational gatherings brings hosts, instructors and students together to interactively expand their realm of possibilities.  GA and Vollman provide such opportunities on a regular basis, many which are free of charge and open to the public.  Further details on GA can be found at


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