The DMZ has launched its first US expansion with the opening of a New York-based space.
The new DMZ office is located at Primary, a 25,000 square-foot coworking space in New York City’s financial district. With a network of 300 entrepreneurs, Primary includes private offices, coworking zones, a full service espresso bar, on-site fitness studio and a lounge area, which holds a number of monthly events.
“We’re proud to be part of the DMZ’s expansion as they make a mark in New York City,” said Lisa Skye Hain, co-founder of Primary. “Our workspace, which includes a community of peers and mentors, will provide Canadian entrepreneurs the foundation to take chances with a greater degree of certainty, setting them up for long-term success.”
Speaking with BetaKit, DMZ executive director Abdullah Snobar said that while the DMZ has worked internationally with places like the UK, it has not yet touched down in the States. After talking to entrepreneurs about the best place to set up shop in the US, many expressed a desire for a “mega city” like New York City, where they could access as many customers and investors as possible.
One unique aspect of the program is that it doesn’t require startups to be based out of the DMZ — startups can apply from anywhere in Canada.
“We focus on the impact and collective drive of many. We believe there’s talent all across the board, and our mandate is to build socioeconomic impact across the board, and focusing on just DMZ is not necessarily the key insight,” said Snobar.
Of course, it’s hard not to talk about the opening of a US space without bringing up the fact that its current president is an opponent to policies that business leaders consider important to their company’s progress, such as increased immigration and a move towards new energy sources.
Snobar says that it’s something that’s impossible not to consider, but adds that this has become an opportunity for Canada to showcase its talent as more tech companies turn north. He adds that New York tends to be a more “welcoming” state in comparison to the federal government.
“People are looking a lot more at Canada, and we can’t turn away from that, nor do we want to.”
“People are looking a lot more at Canada, and we can’t turn away from that nor do we want to. I think it’s an opportunity to say, we’re not going to wait for people to look at us, we’re going to go down there and show them what’s happening,” Snobar said. “And short term, people will get down there and understand potential, see what it looks like for their own companies, and if it makes sense, they can go and expand beyond the walls of this point.”
The DMZ currently has five Canadian startups working out of the New York City office, including SlimCut Media, Reportin’, and Sampler.
Sampler, which has half of its clients in the US, suggests that the space is an important jumping off point as it works on its new model. Sampler allows brands to upload product samples they’d like to distribute to targeted demographics, and the company is now working with publishers to distribute samples at an even larger scale.
“An example would be a website like Prevention. Prevention can leverage our tech to profile their audience for sampling opportunities,” said Marie Chevrier, founder and CEO of Sampler. “For brands like Unilever, it would be exciting for them because they would be able to find someone who has curly hair or sensitive skin or someone who recently had a child. This new model has been something we’ve been working hard on, and a big important part of that is our publisher relationships. Most publishers we leverage are based out of New York.”
For Chevrier, the DMZ’s new space means that Sampler doesn’t have to incur the costs of having a brand new space, that likely wouldn’t have the allure primary does. “Just thinking back at the reason we joined the DMZ in Toronto, we’re in the same situation with New York, it’s about, ‘should we have one or two employees spending time there — does it make sense to have an office? You need a landing spot.”
Applications to work out of the DMZ’s New York City office are open throughout the year, and available here.