Queens: A Diverse Community Spurs a Growing Tech Ecosystem

It’s no secret that we love New York and the incredible tech community here. To see some of New York’s best traits up close, look no further than the borough of Queens, which is full of incredible diversity, culture, food, and startups. Queens is the most diverse of the five boroughs, with immigrants from all over world, and the ecosystem of companies there reflects that. In fact, Queens county is one of the most diverse counties in the United States and the world.

Last week, we visited Queens member companies, partners, and entrepreneurs to hear their stories, see their spaces, and get to know their founders. We first visited the Shapeways factory in Long Island City, where we were joined by State Senator Michael Gianaris and the offices of Congressman Joe Crowley and City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. Serving a community of makers, designers, and entrepreneurs, the Shapeways factory is an incredible space where the company 3D-prints a multitude of objects from materials like steel, nylon, and plastic. In many ways, it represents the diversity of what’s happening in Queens and how startups are contributing to economic development outside of Manhattan.

After an amazing lunch in Flushing, we continued on to Queens College where we were joined by Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, and toured QC’s tech incubator and met their entrepreneurs. We were excited to learn that Queens College has more than 1,300 students currently enrolled in computer science programs—one of the highest rates of enrollment among all New York colleges and universities.

We heard from some fascinating young companies and founders there. Of particular note, two companies—NewtonX and StreetLib—have found a home at Queens College through the City’s IN2NYC program. IN2NYC is a partnership between NYCEDC and CUNY to offer visas to international entrepreneurs who otherwise would not be eligible for H-1B visas. As part of the program, the entrepreneurs work with their host institution, in this instance Queens College, to provide capacity and expertise to the college or university. It was a great treat to see IN2NYC in action and we were glad to hear that Queens College is planning to expand their participation in the program going forward.

Other Queens College incubator companies that we spoke to included Kidmoto, Doppler Innovations, Tevah Media, Donarly, Numeraxial, and TechClub. We also met and heard from students in the incubator who participate in the City’s Tech Talent Pipeline program, which helps place NYC students in tech-related jobs across the five boroughs.

Another notable Queens company we met was OweYaa, which helps match military personnel transitioning out of the military, their spouses, and veterans with civilian jobs. Not only is this company providing a useful service for veterans, but it’s also co-founded by Barika Edwards and Marie Roker-Jones, two women who are working to make the NYC tech community more inclusive and to level the playing field for founders of color.

And this is all but a fraction of what’s happening in Queens. For example, Coalition for Queens (C4Q) nurtures the local tech ecosystem, preparing NYC residents from Queens and elsewhere for good jobs in tech. Also bolstering the local ecosystem are the many coworking spaces popping up all over Queens, including our member WeWork in Astoria and Long Island City, The Factory in Long Island City, and The Austin Space in Forest Hills.

If you’re doing big things in the Queens tech community, we’d love to hear from you and hope to visit you soon.

Check out more photos of our recent Queens adventure below: