New York's lean, mean startup machine

Entrepreneurs launch with scant outside investors, little overhead.

A year ago, Joshua Niamehr founded, a listing of laundry service providers in New York City that customers use to schedule pickups and drop-offs. The self-taught programmer, who was finishing an economics degree at Queens College, simply put a desk in his Brooklyn apartment, built a website and started lining up service providers. He now earns between 10% and 15% of each booking.

Mr. Niamehr considers LaundryLocal a “lean startup”—part of an entrepreneurial movement that's gradually taken hold in New York City during the recession. Rather than waiting for the perfect moment to launch, such businesses dive right into selling, with little cash in their coffers and scant infrastructure, such as offices.


For most venture firms, deals under $250,000 are not worth it, because of the procedural and legal work required, says Bruce Niswander, director of the Varick Street business incubator and two others in New York and an entrepreneurship professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.

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