If you’ve ever gotten off the elevator in the nondescript-looking postindustrial building at 68 Jay St., and walked into the expansive and bright Suite #718, then you’ve experienced a seminal part of the Brooklyn tech world.
Unfortunately, no one will get to have that experience again, as Dumbo Startup Lab founder John Coghlan confirmed to Technical.ly Brooklyn he will be closing the doors at the end of the month.
“I’m super proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Coghlan said in an interview. “I think we were an important part of the growth of the Brooklyn tech scene.”
He said that two factors affected his decision to close down. First is the entrance into the coworking world of WeWork. The global giant, valued at $16 billion, recently opened a space in Dumbo along with three others in Brooklyn. On top of that, the style of coworking has changed in the last four years, from the open floor plan style at Dumbo Startup Lab to one in which companies have their own private offices within the space.
(Editor’s note: Coghlan sends this update, for clarity’s sake: “I’d be sad if our parting words to the Brooklyn tech community seemed like I was whining about WeWork. The environment changed and what we would have needed to do as a business to keep up wouldn’t be core to what DSL was. I accept that.”)
We asked him about the evolution of the Dumbo startup scene, which in 2016 is a real destination for tech companies, with rents that rival Manhattan.
“I think it’s matured a lot,” Coghlan said. “Etsy was still very much a startup at the time we came in. There were a lot of small agencies that gotten to be pretty powerful.”
Looking back, Coghlan said what he’s been most satisfied with is the friendships he’s made.
“I was looking at it as a business opportunity, but what surprised me was how many friendships I’ve built, both with our members but also with you and Chris [Wink, cofounder of Technically Media] and people I’ve partnered with on events. Both internally and externally I’ve made a ton of friendships and that has been a big surprise. We’ve played an important role in a lot of people’s lives, facilitating making connections both on a personal and professional level. Ultimately, relationships are the strongest currency we have.”
Coghlan is mulling a few options for his next career move. He said he will remain in the tech sector in some fashion.
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