Why we chose Harlem

As Cofound makes more and more headway, people are shocked when they find out none of us are from here.

“Why the hell would you choose Harlem of all places?”

It was such a natural decision for us that I realized we never took a second to formally explain it — so, here’s my attempt to do just that.

Ev, Ahishar, and I were starting to hang out alot. Each of us on different projects, we’d cowork out of cafe’s by day and grab brews by night. A few drinks in and we’re at the whiteboard, cracking jokes and drawing up the city’s big problems with day-dreams of solving them one day — entrepreneur stuff.

On a brisk, Fall night Ev posed the question ”Why not bring this vibe we have to all of Harlem?” I had to admit it was a nice thought. Even though none of us were originally from here, we fell in love with the place.

The neighborhood feels lke a real neighborhood. Locals know locals, small biz owners are super involved, it’s a culturally rich place with music, civil rights history, and great style.

Meanwhile, the Old Guard was desperately preventing the oncoming wave of gentrification. All the “startup” meetups in the area were counter-intuitive — if you weren’t from here, haven’t paid your dues, or weren’t black; you were kept at an arm’s length. It was frustrating to see. The gatekeepers had a tight grip on the whole scene.

We saw a brighter side of things.

The whole area is moving in a different direction than the Old Guard’s eluding to. The gentrification argument is over. People of all different colors now call Harlem home and want to be involved in making the community better. The real question is “how can we be proactive about embracing the change and still preserve culture?”

It’s an exciting time. Bloomberg poured $70MM+ into Harlem for the largest public wifi iniative in the country, Columbia’s expanding here, a cool Bio-med incubator popped up, coworking spaces opening left and right — all the signs of an emerging tech-hub.

When we realized there wasn’t a single, dynamic company to show for all this, it became clear how we’d make an impact in this village we fell in love with.

We’d spearhead a new #HarlemTech movement, build community openly, be agnostic to race, and work furiously towards breeding and anchoring great companies right in the heart of town.

Thus, Cofound Harlem was born. A unique, community-driven accelerator built around supporting early stage companies with everything they need from resources, mentorship, and free office space in exchange for nothing but their commitment to HQ here.

Now that it’s on the record, if any of you’d like to get involved, learn more, or grab some brews with us — don’t be shy! Email us at hi@cofound.co and introduce yourself. ☺