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The NY Enterprise Tech Meetup Turns 10!

It happened in the blink of an eye — the NY Enterprise Tech Meetup (NYETM) has turned 10 years old.

Since first launching in January 2012, we’ve hosted 100+ monthly meetups and grown the group to 10,000+ members across our “suits and hoodies” community of Fortune 1000 executives, enterprise startup founders and operators. It’s been the ride of a lifetime helping the extraordinary evolution of enterprise tech in NYC unfold before our eyes. Each and every one of you makes this group so special, and we can’t wait until we’re back together in person to make even more magic happen.

10 years into the NYETM journey, my Work-Bench teammates and I are more fired up than ever to continuing to scaling this community, meeting new enterprise techies, and having more fun than ever (RSVP to our February 23rd event with Brian Long, CEO of Attentive, where he’ll talk finding product market fit).

Cheers to the next decade of our NYETM and thriving enterprise tech community in NYC and beyond! To get everyone excited for what’s to come and to commemorate this milestone, I thought it would be fun to share a special video of memories from our first 10 years and some highlights from the journey so far:

🕰️ How It All Started

Photos from the inaugural NYETM at Cooley on January 25, 2012. (Wow — I looked a lot younger and was still rocking a suit from my Morgan Stanley IT days!)

In our early days, Cooley was gracious enough to host the monthly NYETM events. While enterprise tech is thriving in NYC now, a decade ago that wasn’t a foregone conclusion. However, anyone who attended the early meetups knows we’d pack the room and bring together a cross-section of NYC enterprise tech across builders, customers, and investors, could feel the energy and get a glimpse of what was to come.

📈 Spotting + Showcasing Winners Early

NYC now has over 10 public enterprise software companies (check out our NYC Enterprise Index for the full list) and it’s exciting to have seen so many at our meetup in the earliest days.

Datadog’s IPO signaled the rise of NYC Tech 3.0 as a flourishing enterprise tech ecosystem and proved that a deeply technical infrastructure company could get built in NYC and flourish.

Co-Founder and CTO Alexis Lê-Quôc first presented a product demo in February 2013, and then returned in March 2019 to give a keynote on “Teaching Datadog New Tricks” where he reflected on their product journey, scaling as an enterprise startup.

Alexis first presented in February 2013 (left) and then again a few months before their IPO in 2019 (right)

More recently, Braze went public in mid-November and has a $5B market cap as of the writing of this post. Their Co-Founder Mark Ghermezian gave a demo in April 2013 when they were still known as Appboy. The screenshot on the right shows how far their platform has come!

Mark showing off the early Appboy platform

👩‍💻 Highlighting Badass Women in Enterprise

Each month our team at Work-Bench puts a lot of effort into curating the right headliner(s) and demos for the NYETM. During this process, something we try to be intentional about is having diverse representation in our speaker base.

Looking back, we’ve had some incredible, badass female speakers including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Neha Narkhede (Co-Founder/CTO of Confluent): Neha gave an overview of Kafka, the open-source distributed event streaming platform which Confluent supports. Confluent went public in June 2021 and today has an $18B market cap.
  • April Koh (Co-Founder/CEO of Spring Health): April spoke on a panel titled “Innovating in Healthcare Post-Theranos” and today is the youngest woman to lead a unicorn company.
  • “Many Paths to Enterprise VC” panel with Jessica Lin (Work-Bench), Casey Aylward (then Costanoa, now at Accel), Brianne Kimmel (Work Life Ventures), and Guadalupe Gonzalez (Inc. Reporter): Besides this panel packing the entire room, the feedback from the audience on how to break into enterprise VC and thrive was especially gratifying.
  • Michelle Zatlyn (Co-Founder, President, and COO at Cloudflare): Michelle co-founded Cloudflare in 2009, and today the company is public with a market cap of $33B. She explained that Cloudflare built a cloud based security performance and reliability service, but their ability to architect their sales and services differently than others in the space was the real game changer as opposed to the “cool” product.
  • “Decoding PLG” with Sarah Waldner (Group Manager, Product at Gitlab), Katie Szeto (Product Manager, Figma) and Kelly O’Shaughnessy (Product Lead, Airtable): Product Led Growth is a topic on almost every enterprise startup’s minds these days, and this group of trailblazing women in Product shared a ton of tactical tips with our audience. The recap blog post was one of our most read pieces of content last year.
Clockwise from Top Left: Michelle Zatlyn (Cloudflare), April Koh (Spring Health), Women in VC Panel, Decoding PLG Panel, Neha Narkhede (Confluent)

🍕 Getting the “Suits” to Open Up

A key part of NYETM’s allure over the years has been that we draw a wonderful group of Fortune 1000 executives to each monthly event. While typically these IT and business executives are tough to get ahold of, the magic of NYETM is that they come here to learn what’s new and share openly about current pain points. Whether sharing on stage during a panel discussion or keynote, or opening up over pizza and beer, the power of getting these folks out of their offices and into an environment that’s not transactional (like most pings they get from startups during the day) means that startups can learn nuanced details about potential opportunities, and the executives can begin building trusted relationships with the startups.

Below are some fun topics we’ve covered over the last few years which have really resonated with the group.

Modernizing IT Infrastructure with BNY Mellon, CIT, Blackstone

“Delivering Tech in the New Normal” with Okta, Dropbox, Elastic

“Navigating Fortune 500 Procurement” with Thomson Reuters, TD Securities, Morgan Stanley, and Marsh & McLennan

Reverse pitch events with SMBC, Johnson & Johnson, and Church and Dwight

👕 Curating Numerous Tactics for the “Hoodies”

Whatever your role in a startup, the NYETM has something for you. Whether Sales, Marketing, Product, Finance, Design or Engineering, over the years we’ve hosted some incredible panels and keynotes that are worth checking out:

💻 Adapting to COVID + Leveling Up Our Speakers

By far my favorite part of the NYETM over the years has been the incredible people that the meetups have drawn. Over time, I’ve befriended many of the regulars that have become our community, and during almost every event I’d be told by a newcomer that this is one of the highest quality attendee bases of any meetup they’d ever attended.

As we’ve had to adapt to losing the networking component of our events and battling Zoom fatigue, I’m really proud of how our team has raised the bar on speakers and content.

A cool twist during 2021 was being able to use Zoom to our advantage by getting public tech company CEOs, who otherwise would’ve been extremely difficult to have come in person, to participate virtually. We also partnered on several events with our sister meetup, the London Enterprise Tech Meetup, and really took our attendee base global, with almost 1,000 participants virtually joining for each of the sessions from the US, Europe, Canada, Israel, and more.

  • My Work-Bench Co-Founder Jessica Lin interviewed Okta’s Co-Founder/CEO Todd McKinnon during our January 2021 NYETM
  • I interviewed Twilio’s Co-Founder/CEO Jeff Lawson during our March 2021 NYETM
  • CNBC’s Sameepa Shetty interviewed DigitalOcean’s CEO Yancey Spruill during our April 2021 NYETM
  • Jeff Elder of Business Insider interviewed Cloudflare’s Co-Founder/COO/President Michelle Zatlyn during our June 2021 NYETM
  • Diane Brady of Forbes interviewed UiPath’s Co-Founder/CEO Daniel Dines during our July 2021 NYETM
Clockwise from Top Left: Okta, DigitalOcean, Twilio, UiPath

🕺🏽On a more lighthearted note, 3 miscellaneous highlights stand out as I stroll down memory lane…

The Hottest Enterprise Tech Club!

For our 8 year anniversary there was a line down the block to get in. People walking by thought the line was for a club!

DJ Frodo Baggins & Royalton Hotel Afterparties (circa 2012–2014)

Box was our first ever NYETM sponsor and at their Box /bin event in 2012, it was a blast to see Aaron Levie in action evangelizing Box (and modern enterprise tech at large), and as a huge LoTR fan, maybe even more fun catching Elijah Wood DJ-ing the party (grainy photo below).

Also, during our early years, after each NYETM we’d go to the nearby Royalton Hotel bar for drinks. We’d consistently draw ~50 attendees from the event who would hang out for another hour or two, mingling with their enterprise peers and making new friends. The energy from these passionate enterprise techies made for amazing evenings, and the hickory smoked old fashioneds didn’t hurt either…IYKYK ;)

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Work-Bench is an enterprise technology VC fund in NYC. We support early go-to-market enterprise startups with community, workspace, and corporate engagement. Sign up to get our digest of top content & industry news weekly: work-bench.com/enterprise-weekly

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Jonathan Lehr

Jonathan Lehr

All enterprise tech, all the time || VC @Work_Bench, Founder of @NYETM, and @KauffmanFellows Class 19 || I also tweet (a lot) about the @MiamiHEAT

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