Tech Startups Launch in Greenpoint

By Meredith Hoffman on May 14, 2012 3:41pm | Updated on May 14, 2012 4:24pm

GREENPOINT — Manick Bhan may live in Hell's Kitchen, but he boasts that his concert website Rukkus will launch this month from Greenpoint. Affordability and image have come hand-in-hand, it seems.

"We looked at places in Manhattan, but they were $2, 000 a month for a shoebox, like a gerbil cage minus the wheel," said Bhan, 25, whose start-up recently set up in The Yard coworking space on Nassau Avenue. "And, I wanted to get edgier. I wanted to say I'm cool and work in Brooklyn."

Bhan's site is among dozens of tech start-ups now based in the office community The Yard, a former warehouse on the edge of McCarren Park. About 65 percent of the 85 businesses in the six-month-old space are tech companies, according to the co-founder Morris Levy.

And for the entrepreneurs, pricing, convenience and culture factored into their decisions to settle into the spot abound with beer halls, bowling and bodegas.

"Cost was a major factor," said Chris Naegelin, 31, co-founder of the online privacy and security company Spotflux, who claimed renting an office in Manhattan would run at least 20 to 25 percent more.

And Spotflux's other co-founder Dean Mekkawi, 31, who commutes from the Village in Manhattan to the North Brooklyn office, said he appreciated the nearby amenities — even though he insisted the group was almost always working.

"We have a beer garden beneath us...a roof bar, a bowling alley," he said. "We like it here, it's a different vibe."

The building, the first such community in North Brooklyn, offers monthly rentals at about $350 per desk, with rooms ranging from one to seven desks, Levy said, who estimated that the space is about 85 percent full.

Companies also share a communal lounge and The Yard hosts speakers and forums, like last week's panel on social media and music with Twitter's head of music Tatiana Simonian.

"It's even an incubator of sorts," said Bhan of The Yard.

But the former Goldman Sachs employee, who quit his corporate job in September, said he also finds opportunities to make use of the downstairs bar Spritzenhaus to accomplish goals with his young team.

"We play Jenga there," he said, walking by the beer hall on his lunch break. "We get work done there, too."