Inviting a hacker into your home may seem like the last thing you want to do, but members of the New York City tech scene are doing just that in an effort to connect entrepreneurial minds with talented techies outside the Big Apple.
The brainchild of Jonathan Wegener and Ben Fisher, the recently launched Adopt a Hacker project pairs a hacker (or more specifically, a developer) with a host in NYC in a mutually beneficial arrangement that aims to spur innovation and promote technology growth.
Adopt a Hacker was conceived after Wegener and Fisher realized they wanted to help “those who are curious about the NYC tech scene, but need an extra push to come visit,” Wegener told TheNewNewInternet.
Having been involved with the advertising club at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Fisher had seen how every year, 30 people would fly to New York to visit, only to experience it as outsiders. Few were ever able to make the leap to moving to the city after graduation because they found it too intimidating. Wegener and Fisher hoped to help people get over that hurdle by pairing them with NYC residents so they could get that first-person encounter.
With the help of an “indispensable team,” the duo finalized the project over New York Startup Weekend. And as they say, the rest is history.
Although Adopt a Hacker is still in its infancy, launched less than a month ago, the project has already attracted the attention of more than 100 hackers who intend to visit NYC, and the interest of 150 New Yorkers who are eager to adopt, Wegener said.
“The response has been great — we’ve gotten lots of excited emails and really interesting hackers who are planning to visit,” he said. “A few hackers have come already: I had lunch with one of our visitors last week from [San Francisco] and it was his first time to NYC. He was having a blast and said he wants to move here some day.”
Other visitors have crossed more than just across state lines–think traversing over multiple continents–to reach the creative mecca of New York.
“Another visitor came from Australia and runs a web development shop,” Wegener said. “He brought all his employees to NYC, and they were really really impressed with the tech scene. He too said he plans to move here.”
The process to sign up to either adopt or be adopted starts by sending Adopt a Hacker a note describing “who you are, when you’re coming and why you’re awesome.” That information will then get passed onto people in the tech start-up scene, who will contact interested applicants if they have anything suitable.
The home of several growing tech companies–such as Foursquare, Etsy and drop.io–it is easy to see why there would be mad rush to New York City. In addition to hundreds of startups eager to tap the skills of developers, the city also offers tons of investors, incubators, and mentorship programs to help get new companies off the ground, Wegener said.
“NYC is full of incredibly talented and driven people,” he said. “NYC is the place where people come to make their dreams happen and that happens across all different industries: media, fashion, finance, modeling, acting, advertising, business, etc. One of the most valuable things is that intersection of different industries. It leads to the cross breeding of ideas that creates innovation.
For those intimated by the buzzing, big-city life of New York, Wegener assured the tech start-up scene is small enough to be a community, lending itself to a tight-knit feel.
What adopted hackers should expect? Nothing less than falling in love, of course.
“They should expect to see New York through the eyes of a New Yorker,” Wegener said. “They’ll get a taste for tech in New York, and a taste of the city itself. And they’ll probably fall in love and want to move here.”