One on One with a ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge Winner: Coworking Center SoTechie Spaces
Jotham Sederstrom Aug. 7, 2013, 1 p.m.
When the fates of over a dozen startups are in your hands, you naturally want to provide them with all the resources they could possibly need to succeed—and that includes reliable Internet connection.
Such was the position of SoTechie Spaces, a popular coworking center near Manhattan’s Bryant Park. The organization’s primary focus is to offer startups and entrepreneurs an affordable place to incubate and run their businesses, said SoTechie Spaces board member Nancy Gonzalez.
Since the opening of SoTechie Spaces in 2010, Ms. Gonzalez knew that a great broadband connection would be the key to supporting the blossoming businesses that resided there (and ensuring the success of SoTechie Spaces, as well). When it comes to their existing Internet connection, “Sometimes it won’t be up, sometimes it will,” Ms. Gonzalez said. Fiber, unsurprisingly, was her ultimate dream.
“We wanted to have fiber because we knew that we wanted to be able to provide an excellent connection for everyone to work off the Internet,” she said, “…We actually have some startups in our space that are video and photography, and so fast data speeds would be really great for what they’re doing. To be able to open up our space to a wider range of startups would be great.”
But without help from the city, getting SoTechie Spaces swagged out in fiber would only be a dream. Ms. Gonzalez said they initially tried to get fiber broadband, but were told it wasn’t available in their area. And then there was the cost of installation. “Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen,” she joked.
SoTechie Spaces applied to the ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge after Ms. Gonzalez spotted a tweet from the city Economic Development Corporation calling for submissions. Excitedly, she applied, and was totally shocked when, in March, she found out they’d won.
“When we got the call we were very excited,” Ms. Gonzalez said, “You do these things and you don’t know what the outcome will be, but we were hoping to give something awesome to our members.”
The fiber installation is still in the works, said Ms. Gonzalez. “It’s actually a lengthy process,” she said, “The realistic timeline, beginning to end, is something like 120 days.” A construction date has not yet been set.
Still, Ms. Gonzalez knows that however long the process, nothing can dim SoTechie Spaces’s pride in providing the best quality broadband to their deserving members. “The wait is going to be completely worth it.”