UPDATE: My prayers have been answered! There is now an official NYC Startup Job Fair happening on Friday, April 9th at the AOL HQ, 770 Broadway. It is hosted by the NYC & Columbia Venture Communities.
After last night's Hackers and Founders event, I went out for beers with founders from Udorse, GoodCrush and TrustCloud at Stand in the Village. Eventually, we got to the subject of finding talent, which has turned out to be a bit of a recurring conversational theme and profound pain point for other founders.
At SpeakerText, fortunately, we don't have this problem. Back in October 2009, I paid $300 to attend the Columbia Engineering Career Fair, via a discount hooked up by my peeps at the Columbia Venture Community. Best $300 I ever spent.
I showed up halfway through the job fair in a jeans and tshirt with a couple hundred printouts of my grand SpeakerText product vision manifesto (with sections entitled "How SpeakerText changes the Internet" and so on) and setup shop between a couple big name engineering firms. Within seconds, I had people lined up at my table. Within an hour, I was totally swamped. I left 5 hours later with ~150 resumes.
Within a month, we hired two hotshot college kids to freelance for us as developers, making it totally clear that we were a startup and had close to no money. For compensation, we bought them iPhones.
Earlier this week, we hired another engineer from that batch to revamp our search index. He is a Search/NLP genius with an MSc in Computer Science from Columbia. We are getting him an iPhone.
The key, however, is that if the person works out, we'll happily give them equity on extremely favorable terms (acceleration clauses, etc.), as we are about to do now with one person. But no promises.
Anywho, the real point of this post is that New York City needs a Startup Job Fair where Hackers, Founders, Proto-Founders, and Startups can find each other. And it needs to be hosted at and sponsored by a major university (*cough* Columbia). It should include the usual tables and resume distribution, but it should also include a stage where startups can demo and founders can pitch. It should be at a venue large enough where both of these things can happen simultaneously. And it should be backed by a syndicate of NYC Venture Capital Firms so that startups can afford to get a table without breaking the bank.
Do this twice a year––say at Columbia in the Spring, at NYU in the Fall––and watch the startup ecosystem explode.
Disclaimer: I want NYC to overtake Boston and one day rival Silicon Valley as a Startup Hub. Entrepreneurs are my people. New York is my town.