Thanks to the generosity of the Milstein family, a newly formed tech incubator, Grand Central Tech, have been afforded the opportunity to use their premises for free
Michael Milstein is a third generation member of the Milstein family who has been involved in large scale property development in and around Manhattan for more than sixty years. Michael has provided a welcome helping hand to Matt Harrigan and Charlie Bonello, co-founders of the Grand Central Tech, a startup accelerator program in the very heart of midtown Manhattan.
While in the process of getting their project underway Harrigan and Bonello were introduced to Michael Milstein, son of Milstein Properties chairman Howard Milstein, whose father and uncle founded the company in the late fifties.
According to Matt Harrigan, Michael was impressed with the incubator accelerator model that the pair had been developing in the Upper East side, and offer them the opportunity to establish a similar program in midtown Manhattan, offering them prime office space free of charge in a building owned by Milstein properties, ideally situated directly opposite the entrance to Grand Central Station.
Matt Harrigan and Charlie Bonello did not hesitate for a second in accepting the offer, and established a new hub for technological innovation which they named Grand Central Tech.
In a recent interview Harrigan and Bonello give an insight into the motivations behind the Milsteins’ generous offer was Michael Milstein’s vision of creating a center for technological innovation right in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, with the hope that providing this premium office space free of charge will be a tremendous incentive for startups to set up shop there.
“So many other technical development integrators have moved downtown, but having the opportunity to establish their business in such a convenient and prestigious setting will help go a long way in helping Midtown Manhattan from overcoming the image problem that may have been generated, due to a combination of expensive rental and equity agreements that most tech incubators are looking for” Summed up Harrigan and Bonello
What appealed to Michael Milstein about the concepts behind the recently founded Grand Central Tech is that Harrigan and Bonello have no intention of charging any form of equity fee or even rent as a result of the family’s generosity.
Understandably, when the announcement was made that Grand Central Tech would be opening, Harrigan and Bonello were inundated with applications, (some 400 in number) only 19 have been accepted to date, with plans to eventually accommodate up to 60 startups.
According to Harrigan and Bonello, of the applicants accepted to operate their business through Grand Central Tech most of them can be displayed as being a little further down the line in terms of development, with some even having succeeded in raising an initial round of seed capital funding. It is also interesting to note that around 50% of the startups currently operating from Grand Central Tech have either been established by members of minority communities or women (and sometimes both).
Under the terms of the incubation agreement the Milsteins have allowed Grand Central Tech to use their space without charge under the logical condition that each company excepted for the program will began granted a year-long incubation and mentoring period, after which those who successfully graduate will be expected to rent space on the 16th floor of the Grand Central building, for which they will be obliged to pay some form of rent, yet to be negotiated.
Of the 19 companies accepted into the incubator program at Grand Central Tech not a single one has failed to make some form of commitment to rent space on the 16th floor, although it would be dependant on the nature of their business. “We think that’s a fair trade for the free space and the inclusive mentoring service that they will be provided with during the incubation period.” Harrigan concurred.
Milstein Properties were founded in the late 1950s by brothers Paul and Seymour Milstein was her first major development the 34-story, 680-unit Dorchester Towers on the Upper West Side being completed in 1964.
Over the course of the next five decades, Milstein Properties have either developed or acquired more than 50, 000 apartments, 20 million square feet of office space, and 8, 000 hotel rooms.
In addition to their extensive property and banking interests the Milstein family left their mark all over New York, with the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the Museum of Natural History to the Paul Milstein Pool and Terrace at the Lincoln Center in the city bearing the family name.