By Dan Miner  |  Buffalo Business First  |  2/24/16

Phillips Lytle helping startups from Waterloo, Ont. find “soft landing” in Manhattan

Buffalo-based Phillips Lytle has been a long-time backer of the startup scene in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.

Through its backing of the Communitech organization – which functions as the physical host and networking agency of that community – Phillips Lytle has watched Waterloo transition from a region with strong engineering talent and some large technology firms to a bustling center of innovation and investment.

Now the two entities are taking that relationship one step further with Communitech NYC, a workspace at Phillips Lytle’s offices in the New York Times building in Manhattan that will seek to bring Waterloo startups into New York City’s startup ecosystem. The workspace will be open to Communitech members and startups in affiliated hubs.

The American market is a goal for nearly every Canadian startup company, partly because of its sheer market size but also because of its more robust investment opportunities, talent pipelines and mentor networks. New York City is one of the largest start-up technology scenes in the world.

Plasticity Labs will be one of the first companies to use the space, launching its first U.S. sales operation there. The company, which uses data to measure workplace morale, is backed by millions in venture capital.

Communitech companies “need access to U.S. markets, U.S. customers and U.S. resources and an appropriate place to access those markets was New York City,” said Richard Honen, a COURTESY OF COMMUNITECH Phillips Lytle partner who leads its Albany office. “The other thing these companies can use is someone to concierge them through doing business in the United States, from what goes on at a lunch meeting to how what you can talk about regarding your technology.”

Honen added that Communitech startups will have access to Philips Lytle attorney’s across the U.S., including those in Buffalo.

“Law firms get a bad name for not being on the forefront of business initiatives, so it’s really exciting that the firm has grabbed this opportunity and run with it,” he said.