Ryerson's Digital Media Zone opening New York City location
It aims to give Canadian start-ups a launching pad to the U.S. market, without losing them to NYC or Silicon Valley.
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Ryerson University’s startup incubator DMZ is opening a location in New York City, giving Canadian companies a foothold in the American market without losing them forever.
The free space opens Tuesday in the financial district. Startups from across Canada can apply.
“Our play here is not to get talent to leave the country; it’s to grow talent internationally,” said DMZ executive director Abdullah Snobar.
Historically, he said, many Canadian startups have felt the pull to expand south, but spaces like this let them stay local.
Plus, with the introduction of policies such as President Donald Trump’s travel ban, Canadian startups are looking more attractive than ever.
“Our policies are becoming the reverse of what America’s shifting into right now,” Snobar said. “It’s giving us an advantage.”
Anthony Lacavera, a member of the DMZ advisory board, called it an “interesting moment” for Canadian startups.
The new office is “all about creating a community of people that bring perspectives from all over the world,” he said.
Ami Shah, co-founder of Peekapak, has already started using the space — a vast improvement over hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop or pulling over to the side of the road to take conference calls.
“All of a sudden my credibility being in the area is so much stronger,” she said.
“It’s a huge relief just to have somewhere dedicated.”
Shah’s company, which teaches kids about emotional intelligence through interactive learning tools, has a lot of clients in the New York City area.
Though she’s happy for the home base when travelling, she’s committed to keeping the headquarters in Canada.
“Toronto’s a great place to grow a global company,” she said.
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