DUMBO Startup Lab = Coworking Space of the Year!


Technical.ly Brooklyn put on a great night honoring the Brooklyn tech community’s leaders at the Brooklyn Innovation Awards in January. Many amazing people and organizations were nominated and over 12,000 people voted. DUMBO Startup Lab was honored to win “Coworking Space of the Year” despite some very tough competition.

This win belongs to the many people who have made DSL possible – particularly our members (past, present and future). We have received such great support from the DUMBO and greater Brooklyn communities, the people attend our events, our email subscribers and social media followers and all the great friends, family and mentors who have offered us guidance and support along the way.

Thank you!

Top Community Tools via David Spinks of CMX

CloudPeeps is an amazing platform that connects businesses and brands with amazing content and community management professionals. They host weekly Twitter chats with the top community experts in the world. This week featured David Spinks, founder of CMX and the leading community expert on for their #peepchat. The whole chat is worth checking out but I was particularly excited about David’s answers to Q5. You can find the question and David’s response below. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the full list of all the tools mentioned by David.

Top Tools and Platforms for Building Community

Lithium – Lithium social software provides on-demand, hosted forums, chats, and other social media marketing solutions for companies.

Community Cloud – Collaborate anywhere with your entire customer community with Salesforce.com Community Cloud.

Standing Giants – Experts in creating owned online communities of engaged customers for your brand and helping you extract value from these owned communities.

Jive Software – The leading provider of modern communication and collaboration solutions for business. We empower people and organizations to work better together.

Higher Logic – Their cloud-based community platform brings like-minded people together to ignite knowledge sharing, drive content creation and solve problems.

Vanilla – Community Forums. Reinvented. Create an online community that your audience will love.

Mightybell – Modern communities for modern professionals.

Mobilize.io – Communicate better with your external network of partners, members or a workforce

Discourse – 100% open source discussion platform built for the next decade of the Internet.

Social Engine – Community software that helps you build your own customized social networking websites.

Facebook Groups – Share what you care about with the people who care about it most.

Community IRL with Dan Teran of Managed by Q



Dan Teran is one of my favorite entrepreneurs. As co-founder of Managed by Q, he’s making office management more efficient by building the office operating system. They provide cleaning services on a regular schedule with the ability to add extra cleaning hours, order supplies or hire a handyperson as needed.

What sets Managed by Q apart from many of their on-demand peers is their approach to hiring. While fellow cleaning service Homejoy was forced to close up shop due to pending litigation resulting from their hiring practices, Q has thrived – with much credit due to their decision to hire their operators as full-time employees.

Knowing about the strong sense of community Dan and his team have fostered among their operators (check out their blog for proof), we reached out get deeper insights from Dan about what drove Q’s hiring model, the impacts it has had on the business and how they plan to handle internal community building as their team grows – Q has recently expanded to a bunch of new cities across the country.

Big thanks to Dan for the awesome, honest insight. Hope you guys learn something!

Was there any thought to building a community among your operators when you made the decision to hire your janitorial staff as opposed to hiring them on 1099 like many of your competitors?

Yes – community is very important to us at Q, in fact it is one of our core values. We believe that there is a lot more to a job than a paycheck, and one of the strongest non-monetary benefits of employment is a sense of belonging and community, and we work hard to build a community among our operators – whether they work in the office or the field.

Do you find that your hiring approach is an advantage in recruiting talented operators?

Yes – one of the reasons that we took this approach was to ensure that we could deliver a high quality of service to our customers. We realized that to deliver the best service we also needed to attract the best workforce, which meant being competitive about wages and benefits, and really thinking hard about how we could attract and retain the best people.

What have been some of the unexpected/unintended benefits to hiring your operators as employees instead of contractors?

I think probably the biggest piece we estimated was training. You can’t train contractors, so you just have to trust that they know how to do the job, which often results in a poor customer experience. We invest heavily in training, because to be the best service company in the world we need to first be the best in the world at training – we’re not there yet, but it is a major focus.

In a people-heavy business, maintaining a consistent business culture across markets will be challenging to manage as you grow. What steps can you take to ensure the same culture that has facilitated your growth in NYC takes hold as you expand into new markets?

We put a lot of energy into creating internal documents that really drill down at our company culture, values, and code – these things don’t really change over time or across geographies. By investing time and resources into cultivating our culture we develop a shared way of doing business, which for us distills to caring deeply about our work, each other, and our customers – everything else follows.

Any interesting stories about your community of operators that you want to share?

There’s a lot – we attract a lot of really wonderful people with rich backgrounds. The best way to get to know our Operators is to give the service a try, some of the best interactions take place between the Operator and the employees of the space they are servicing. Our platform has brought a workforce that was previously invisible to focus in a way where they are valued and appreciated.

CreateNYC Features DUMBO Startup Lab

“Most of what you read about business and entrepreneurship online focuses on skills, hacks and shortcuts you’ll need to succeed and most business books are very positive and uplifting. Being in the trenches every day, I’ve found that my ability to persevere through tough times and learn from my mistakes has been much more valuable to me as a business owner than ‘doing what I love’ or possessing a specific technical skill. You can prepare but you’ll never know how difficult the tough times are until you’re in it.” Ex-Wall Streeter John started @DumboStartupLab, one of the oldest NYC co-working spaces based in Dumbo, Brooklyn. “I knew I wanted to start my own company but I wasn’t technical and wanted to do something I could bootstrap. Coworking was just starting in NYC and was exciting for me because I could leverage my background in community building and leadership while surrounding myself with entrepreneurs who I could learn from.” ————————————————- #CreateNYC / Photo & Interview : @oyuxi

A photo posted by Entrepreneurs of New York (@createnyc) on

CreateNYC is an Instagram account created and run by Yuxi Liu. CreateNYC shares photos and stories about New York City based entrepreneurs and small business owners.

All of CreateNYC’s stories focus on the person behind the business. His or her life story and how they came about starting their own business, what their passion is, the struggles and triumphs of owning a business, and the things that keep each person going. The point of this project, and what I personally love about it, is to spark something inside of you. It either opens your eyes and terrifies you to the prospects of owning your own business or it ignites a flame in you and inspires you to create something of your own.

I found out about CreateNYC when I was reading a post on the Humans of New York page. CreateNYC is inspired by HONY. It follows the same daily photo and story of a subject style of storytelling HONY is known for but the difference is Yuxi focuses strictly on entrepreneurs. These posts become a real opportunity for the business owners to share their stories and promote their business.

Without expecting much I reached out to CreateNYC about DUMBO Startup Lab and told him our founder’s story would be a great fit for the project. Taking initiative paid off. I got a response the very next morning, a big surprise. Then to actually have Yuxi come to our offices the next evening was great. He is very active and excited about meeting new people, making connections, and helping people share their stories.

John (our founder) and Yuxi hit it off. During their relaxed, honest conversation, I learned that they share a lot of the same ideals and interests. Both are what I call connectors – people who like to connect those they know from different walks of life to others and see how they can help each other. Yuxi does more than just run this account to share his subjects stories; he also organizes small meet up events where he invites entrepreneurs and small business owners to come and share their ideas and get feedback from others and hopefully some people in these groups can help each other out which has happened with great results on occasion. The conversation focused on the in’s and out’s of starting and running a business, the struggles of taking the jump which is where most people get stuck, and what inspired John to leave his old job and become his own boss.

The rest of Yuxi’s process was photography. We decided that the best spot for this would be the rooftop of our building where you can admire an amazing view of the Manhattan Bridge, the city skyline, and the surrounding DUMBO neighborhood. I felt the background behind John was fitting to inspire people to dream big. You never really know where life is gonna take you if you don’t try.

I learned this lesson personally. Meeting Yuxi and organizing this meetup was a great experience for me. I got out of my comfort zone by reaching out to a complete stranger without knowing what would be the outcome. We were both part of creating something that helped him with content for his project, but also helped the DUMBO Startup Lab reach a wider audience. The post shared John’s story which hopefully inspired some and helped others relate to his struggles. I also learned about an interesting man’s back story and what drives him to do what he does.

CreateNYC was founded a little under a year ago and in that time has earned a good mass at a little over 10.3k of engaged followers. We expect to keep seeing quality content from Yuxi, and to see CreateNYC prosper.

Marco Gallo

Your Summer Reading List


One of our awesomest (yup, I made up a new word) community members observed a stack of library books on my desk this week and we got into a great conversation about reading. Reading has been critical to my growth and professional development and has influenced some of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made, particularly leaving Wall Street to join AmeriCorps and leaving nonprofits to try my hand at entrepreneurship.

With summer reading season upon us, I’m sharing a list of six amazing books that changed the way I see the world.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey – the productivity bible is critical reading for anyone looking to get more out of life – personally and professionally.

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki – not just for Dads! This book is a fast, fun read about strategies the wealthy use to accumulate their riches.

To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink – an interesting look into how the role of sales has changed in business (spoiler alert: we’re all sales people) and what it means for you.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – the wild journey of an escaped Australian convict through the Indian underworld. The craziest part is that it’s based on the author’s life.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – great summer read. Baseball, relationships, college life…what more do you need to hear.

Forever by Pete Hammill – fantasy meets historical fiction in this tales exposing the sometimes dark truth behind the growth and evolution of New York City.

Now that you’ve seen some of my favorites, send me some of yours so I can add them to my queue! Hope you find some time to relax and unwind with a good book this summer!

Community IRL with Angelica Olstad of Pop Up Yoga NYC

Community IRL 1.0_1-07_edit-07

Earlier this month we hosted a panel during OutdoorFest featuring different entrepreneurs who have built amazing offline communities. The panel included the founders of Jetty Surf, Brooklyn Boulders and Pop Up Yoga. We host a lot of events at DUMBO Startup Lab but I found this to be one of the most informative and inspiring groups we’ve ever had speak in our space. I admit it’s probably because I’ve dedicated my life to building an offline community or maybe it was just that awesome.

The event resonated with me so strongly I decided to keep the conversation alive by interviewing some of the community builders I admire. This blog will be the first in what I hope is a bi-weekly series of conversations with the people behind some of New York’s (eventually the world’s?) most interesting communities. I would love your feedback as this idea evolves.

For the first installment of what we’re currently titling Community IRL features Angelica Olstad, founder of Pop Up Yoga. Pop Up Yoga NYC is a yoga company that takes yoga out of the studio and into urban spaces. They put on a wide variety of events from classes in public spaces, to curated cultural events that take place in hotels, art galleries, restaurants, music festivals, coffee shops, and more. Their classes range from 10 – 100 people and generally their participants are creative professionals and entrepreneurs in their late 20s and early 30s. It’s a great community of people who are interested in health and wellness and as one of her students has said, “It feels like a little family.” If you want to learn more about Pop Up Yoga NYC and check out a calendar of their upcoming events, visit www.popupyoga-nyc.com.

In exchange for a surf lesson next month, she was willing to answer a few questions about the community that has developed around her amazing yoga practice. Here’s what she had to say:

How did Pop Up Yoga get started?

Pop Up Yoga NYC started pretty early on in my career of teaching yoga. At the time I was working a studio manager for a boutique studio in Williamsburg and also teaching yoga to teens in a juvenile detention center in Brooklyn Heights. I was interested in finding a way to make yoga more accessible for more New Yorkers beyond the typical yoga scene. I learned pretty quickly that many people associated yoga in NY as expensive, elitist, and exclusive. While teaching the teens in Brooklyn heights I became friends with the events coordinator at the now non-existent urban market Dekalb Market across the street. She loved my idea about creating a “pop up” yoga experience and from there I produced the first event at the market. It was a huge success and has been continuing ever since.

What communities inspired you or guided you when you were starting out?

To be honest, I’ve had a hard time finding my yoga community in New York and I think this was the impetus I needed to create my own community. The Pop Up Yoga scene has attracted a lot of great individuals and it’s from this community that I now have many of my closest friends. They are people that are all pursuing their dreams living in NYC who are also into health and wellness. We all support each other by going to each other’s shows, events, and of course the occasional PUYNYC class :). As Pop Up Yoga NYC continues to grow so does my personal network of these fantastic people. I am very thankful for this.

How much of your community’s growth was intentional vs organic?

I think the growth has been both intentional and organic. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve been introduced to or met through Pop Up Yoga NYC. It’s been really wonderful to meet people because they believe in the mission that you are spreading. When I first started this business I made it a personal mission to run Pop Up Yoga NYC with yogic ideals. I’ve always believed in running this business with both honesty to myself and to the nature of these classes. I’ve been really careful to always try to curate each event and provide quality, authentic experiences. I believe that this intention to run the business this way has led to its organic word of mouth growth.

Can you tell a story about something that came out of Pop Up Yoga’s community you didn’t expect?

I mentioned this earlier but I have a really strong friend group through Pop Up Yoga NYC. Some of my dearest friends are people I either met through Pop Up Yoga NYC or have supported the events from the beginning. It’s hard running a business by yourself but the support I’ve received from such amazing and inspirational people has been fully enriching and rewarding experience. I think I am most thankful for the community that Pop Up Yoga NYC has provided for me in both my professional and personal life.

What plans do you have to keep the community moving forward?

I have my sights set on more events and expanding. I’m interested in providing more quality content in the health and wellness media scene. I think there’s so much to explore about how health and wellness looks all over the world. I feel that we are only just starting to scratch the surface on how powerful the impact of eastern philosophy could be for the western world and how we can implement these ideas to live happier, more efficient, and fulfilling lives. It’s a project that I personally am very invested in and would like the message of Pop Up Yoga NYC to reflect this mission as well.

I found what I was looking for: inspiration

Just spent some time wandering through powerHouse Arena​ and Aegir Board Works​ looking for inspiration for the side project I’m working on – a short book on how to be a surfer (not how to ride a surfboard). Stay tuned for more info on the book.

I get my books from the library by placing holds in advance so I can just pick them up and check right out. The experience of shopping in bookstore is very cool and something I didn’t realize I was missing.

It was also cool to see Jeff Divine’s surf photography books documenting surf culture in the 70s and 80s onsale in both the book store and surf shop. Something to aspire to.

And I especially loved stumbling onto a Dan Stilesposter exhibit in the shop that included a Tame Impala​ poster and this Trey Anastasio​ Band print.



Fixed vs Growth Mindset

I had lunch with a friend on Tuesday who is leaving Brooklyn for a new job. This is not just a new job but a big career change and massive growth opportunity for a really smart young guy. As we chatted, he asked me if I had any advice on starting a new gig. Having transitioned from Wall Street trader to nonprofit manager to small business owner, I know a thing or two about big career moves. Since we only had an hour, I shared the single most important piece of advice I have: ask questions early and often.

When I was just starting my career, I was hesitant to ask questions at the risk of seeming, to put it bluntly, stupid. In meetings I would just nod along even when the conversation was covering topics I didn’t understand. This was a huge mistake. Not asking questions early in my career became a compounding problem as the longer you pretend to understand something the harder it becomes to ask for an explanation. I can’t count how many learning opportunities I wasted by pretending to understand something instead of asking for an explanation. While learning this lesson was stressful and costly, I am glad I learned it.

Since those early days, I have worked hard to become a better learner. When I am getting left behind in a conversation or a topic is covered that is outside of my understanding, I never hesitate to ask for clarification. This approach has accelerated my learning and helped me tremendously through my transitions. I also have noticed another pleasantly surprising side effect of asking questions. By admitting ignorance and asking for help you not only gain knowledge, you endear yourself to others as they recognize your humility, honesty and openness to learning.

This shift in my learning style and approach could be viewed as a transition from a “fixed mindset” to a “growth mindset” as described by Carol Dweck in her widely acclaimed book Mindset. A fixed mindset is the belief that you are born with certain gifts and your successes and failures in life are a reflection of those gifts – so, in my case, asking questions would have proven that I knew less than my peers and, therefore, was less intelligent. A growth mindset is the belief that gifts can be developed over time through hard work. People with growth mindsets view challenges and setbacks as opportunities to learn rather than a judgement of their intellect.

Dweck provides insight into our different mindsets through anecdotes ranging from the failures of fixed minded John McEnroe to the successes of growth minded middle school students reveals the importance and opportunities of maintaining a growth mindset. I wish I had been aware of these mindsets when I was starting my career. Our mindset doesn’t just affect us as we move from job to job, they influence our entire lives from our relationships with our partners to our roles as parents to our success in learning new skills and crafts. I would be shocked if your mindset wasn’t also a keen indicator of your likelihood for success as an entrepreneur.

In entrepreneurship, many different factors will contribute to your success but none more than your ability to overcome challenges. Every business will inevitably face challenges and setbacks. With a growth mindset, these moments become learning opportunities rather than judgements on our ability. By learning how to deal with these issues and have a positive response, we can increase our knowledge, improve our skills and keep moving forward.

Want to learn more about fixed vs growth mindset? Read this blog post from Brainpickings. If it resonates, you can pick up a copy of Mindset here.

Looking back on my Brooklyn Tech Triangle Internship – by Olivia Moore

By Olivia Moore, City Tech student and DUMBO Startup Lab Intern: 

I have always been able to manage myself in college. School was easy – pay attention in class, do assignments and study, study, study. I’ve always had a passion for working with computers so majoring in Computer Systems Technology was like getting a degree for a hobby. To graduate I needed to get an internship. Apart from it being an obvious requirement, I really started to see its importance. I’ve had classes with a number of people who currently work in the industry and conversed with them on their experiences, and it became clear to me that yes, while all the courses were essential, actually applying them in real life situations is what’s important.

I obtained my internship through the Brooklyn Tech Triangle Internship Program and it’s been an excellent experience. I couldn’t have been matched with a better company, the Brooklyn coworking space DUMBO Startup Lab. The whirlpool of expectations and emotions – mainly fear, that I had on the first day quickly disappeared as I realized that DUMBO Startup Lab was a community of warm, laid back yet hardworking individuals. A community that made blending in quite easy.

At City Tech, students are able to choose from three different modules. So even if I majored in CST I was able to pick three focal points – Programming Design and UNIX, Web Design and Information Security. The best part of working here at DSL was that I was able to implement them all.

One of my earlier assignments involved comparing DSL membership applications with the number of visitors to dumbostartuplab.com. The greatest challenge with this task was the conversion of the email archives. The downloaded file extension was .mbox. I was so excited when I wrote a custom python script to convert the file into a Google Sheets useable format such as .tsv or .csv.

For another assignment I was required to optimize dumbostartuplab.com. We used Google PageSpeed insights to identify the slower pages, then, worked on increasing the page score and load times. Some of the steps I took included minifying the markup and programming languages, optimizing images and deleting unnecessary elements from the site. My hard work paid off as DUMBO Startup Lab immediately climbed up the search rankings on Google.

My final assignment at DUMBO entailed developing a coworking calculator. Using HTML, CSS, JavaScript and JQuery I was able to formulate a calculator to compare the cost of working at DSL with the costs of working in a private office and coffee shop. I’ve had experience with different markup and programming languages but had always been most familiar with Java so I created the application in Netbeans first – to ensure that I had all the necessary variable and that all the calculations were correct. My HTML, CSS and JavaScript were a bit rusty but the amazing thing about interning here is that John encourages you to learn and work out the kinks trusting that you’ll get it done. This definitely helped with my confidence and gave me a sense of reliability.

Interning here has encompassed so much more than Information Technology. I’ve gained a better understanding of the concept of entrepreneurship, learned the importance of networking and been exposed to many new opportunities. The projects and challenges have definitely molded me into a more responsible and assured person. The meetups that I have attended so far have given me the conviction to try new things and meet new people. Groups like Ladies Who Code and Girl Develop It gave me the opportunity to learn and share code with experienced females in the field. I can now join in and actually share my experiences in conversations with knowledgeable members and receive advice in return.

This 3 month experience has been amazing. It taught me things I didn’t even know I needed to learn. Before interning here, I was so focused on object oriented programming that I payed little attention to anything else. Now my passion has expanded. I have realized how important it is to not only possess but also be able to combine different aspects of technology.

Two DSL companies on ProductHunt today!

When I started DUMBO Startup Lab, my goals were all about me – to learn how to run a business, to surround myself with entrepreneurs who I can learn from and to become part of NYC’s exploding tech community. Once things got rolling here, though, I realized that my true mission was to help others succeed.

At DUMBO Startup Lab, that means giving feedback to members who come to me with problems and pointing them to the right resources when I can’t help them. It means bringing in experts (like Susan Zheng, founder of Lynxsy, who is here today) who want to pay it back or forward and share their unique skills and experiences. It means coordinating events that build community so members can learn from each other and hosting workshops to help grow the Brooklyn tech community, building a potential pipeline of future DSL members.

All of that work is part of the long play of running a community that can help people achieve their goals. You need to invest in your community and you don’t always see the results immediately but you’ve got to keep faith that your work will pay off eventually. Remember, today’s success is a lagging indicator of the work you have been doing for the last 6 months.

That is why I am so excited to see two of our newest members, Mike (Down) and Sush (Carla), with their apps on ProductHunt today. These guys have been working tirelessly on these products for months – working early mornings, late nights and weekends, attending every office hours session and workshop, meeting investors and constantly pitching and getting feedback from the other members of our space. They are perfect examples of how to maximize your return from coworking when you’re building v1 of your app and I am super proud of the results.

Please show them some love. Check the PH posts, upvote them, try the products and share them with friends.


Show Down some love here: >> CLICK HERE <<

Show Carla some love here: >> CLICK HERE <<