Brooklyn sees surge in tech startups

Matt Bassett, executive producer at One Hundred Robots, Matt Bassett, executive producer at One Hundred Robots, a downtown Brooklyn app developer that makes interactive versions of children's books, in the company's offices. (May 16, 2013) Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

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When it comes to the city's tech future, Brooklyn is starting to give Manhattan some serious competition.

More than 200 startups have set up shop in DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, according to the city's Department of Information Technology Telecommunications' database. That number is going to keep growing, according to city leaders.

Aside from being a go-to spot for young, up-and-coming professionals, experts say Brooklyn real estate allows for potentially limitless growth and innovation.

"That is where you bridge these worlds and create new potential," said Rachel Haot, the city's chief digital officer.

While tech behemoths, like Google, have set up shop in Manhattan, Haot said many companies see advantages in Brooklyn.

Haot added that developers who reshaped Downtown Brooklyn have made a point of including amenities like bike racks, coffee shops and Internet-friendly services for freshman businesses.

"The real estate developers are looking for ways to make their properties more attractive to tech companies," she said, noting that lower rents also helped sell Brooklyn neighborhoods to companies.

Haot said that the borough's accessibility, including the multitude of mass transit options from downtown Manhattan, offers untapped potential for growing young companies, such as 3-D printer company Makerbot and online retailer Etsy.

The city's Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications couldn't provide exact economic figures related to Brooklyn's tech-sector growth, but it said that over the past six years, venture capital deals for companies went up 52 percent and the city was second in the nation with $8.3 billion in technology company acquisitions.

Matt Bassett, the executive producer of One Hundred Robots, a DUMBO tech company that creates apps, said the borough's 21st century work environment is the perfect fit for his 2-year-old company.

Bassett, who has worked in Manhattan in the past, said he and his team decided to go to Brooklyn because it provided a college-town feel that fosters great ideas.

"It's more open and more casual. The area is more relaxed and open and people work just as hard," he said.

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