NYC firms ready to grow

Most of the companies on the 12th floor of 160 Varick St. — a startup incubator — probably couldn’t afford a fully hookedup office downtown if it didn’t come at such a discount: $200 a month per desk.

“It’s the silver lining to the recession,” said Gianni Martire, 26, co-founder of Hotlist, a service that meshes with Facebook to help people keep tabs on social events in their neighborhoods. “This would never have happened before. Look at this space.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other business leaders were at the incubator’s unveiling yesterday to show off the fruits of their efforts that began in February when the city rolled out a plan to encourage entrepreneurial activity.

So far, 22 companies fill the desks at the 16,000-square foot space run by NYU-Poly,which selected the companies out of a pool of between 300 and 400 applicants. The city plans to jump-start another four incubators.

The startups at 160 Varick represent a whole cross section of tech firms. Some of the principals are in their 20s and others are pushing 60, and all have been thrown together to help resuscitate the city’s economy.

Entrepreneurs here said a big benefit is the collaboration that goes on among the disparate companies.

“Steve is my go-to guy for anything technology-related,” said Michael Chuang, founder of iTBexchange, a software platform for trading bonds. Steve is Steven Asherman, who sits across from Chuang and is the president of Base One International Corp., a software development firm.

Bloomberg, New York’s richest resident, who turned a severance package from Salomon Brothers into a billion-dollar business, gave the newbie firms encouraging words.

“Good luck to all of you starting businesses,” he said. “I remember those days.”