AMP NYC accelerator program

Accelerating small business growth in the city that never sleeps

Imagine New York City without small businesses and entrepreneurial upstarts.

Bet you can’t.

We’ve all heard the age-old adage: If you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere. But the distinct honor of “making it” in this city today is more brutal than ever before—and comes with distinct challenges. Oversaturated neighborhoods, the advent of digital marketing, disruption in every corner of every industry, diverted attention spans, fleeting brand loyalty … to name a few.

The city government was hearing scores of media & entertainment entrepreneurs voicing similar frustrations over stalling growth and an overwhelming need for support. For a city whose media & entertainment industry was responsible for 400,000 jobs and worth upward of $10 billion, this was dire.

So how could the city help its media & entertainment landscape continue to thrive?

The considerations

Any public sector project comes with a specific and uniquely rigorous set of standards. In this case, there was a wide spread of stakeholders we had to guarantee mutual benefit to. In sum, these players were:

  • The City: Elected public officials, including the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment and Small Business Services, who needed to represent their value and deliver tangible results to taxpayers
  • The Entrepreneurs: New Yorkers competing in an increasingly competitive world that inherently favors Big Media, and whose frustrations we were tasked to hear, validate, ease, and reverse
  • The Locals: The New Yorkers these entrepreneurs serviced on the daily, and who would ultimately be on the receiving end of any business impact, good or bad

We also intrinsically understood what these founders were up against. Balancing day jobs, side hustles, families, what little remained of personal lives, budgets, employees, investors, and customer needs—it’s not for the faint of heart, and it doesn’t leave one with much time or energy to waste. So we knew the program we designed had to be:

  • Hyper-functional: Every word, minute, and dollar worth their investment
  • Business atypical: As in, not your run-of-the-mill, 30-slide-deck-and-call-it-a-day workshop
  • Nimble by nature: Easy to integrate and facilitate across schedules, environments, technologies, business models, and working styles
  • True to industry: Access to key industry players, advocates, and mentors that to this day remain largely gatekept, particularly to minority or underrepresented founders
  • Personal to scale: A curriculum that was systematically iterative and capable of molding to a person’s unique needs
  • Community-centered: A program that would leave entrepreneurs in each others’ good hands, to support one another and create real camaraderie

No pressure.

The setup

After 3x3 Design, our project counterpart, handed off their 12-month research intensive, we immersed ourselves into every aspect of New York’s small business world—an all-hands-on-deck Exploration to incubate the incubator, if you will.

An overview of 3x3’s 12-month research intensive.

It was comprehensive. Candid. Exposed. And exactly what was necessary to diagnose the root of each entrepreneurial roadblock and refine the tools that would sustain their growth beyond our involvement.

  • To fight over-saturation, small business owners needed to connect with new, skeptical audiences. To do so, they needed to inherently understand their brand positioning—control over their own narrative, vision, and direction.
  • To then retain this new market share, they’d need early adaptability, flexibility, and innovation. Leveraging diverse revenue streams and systematically creating 1+1=3 value would gift them with agility.
  • A combination of both sustained efforts would breed influence—enough momentum to keep small business owners on the offensive against volatile marketplace conditions, against looming corporation overlords, and changing audiences.

Together, the hard-headed resiliency no one can pull off better than New Yorkers.

The program: A first-of-its-kind accelerator for New York entrepreneurs

After only a 3-month design sprint, the program piloted in April 2018 with an inaugural cohort of 20 diverse founders across New York’s media and entertainment landscape: production companies, community marketplaces, creative studios, the gamut. All five boroughs were represented.

Over three months of interactive, IRL, and digital programming, our founders honed in on their businesses’ core essences and worked their way back up—working with industry mentors to sharpen the unique tools they’d need for sustained, scalable, high-impact growth. On their own terms.

The payoff

We’ll just let the results do the talking.

"AMP was like a Swiss Army Knife - extensive, comprehensive and resourceful. It helped me find my own voice."
Gwen Waldron, 345 Design"
"With AMP we found our secret sauce."
Rachel Doyon, Collabarét
"Through the program we discovered the essence of who we are, and rebuilt our story from there."
Ian Busching, Dig Down Media
"I came in with an MVP and walked out with a business ready to be a very big company."
José Francisco Avila, GALENT
"Through AMP I built my company culture. I transformed myself from manager to leader, now the business is ready to take off."
Lucien Harriot, Mechanism Digital
"This program made me feel like I belong in the ecosystem. I found my purpose."
Cavaughn J. Noel, Fabric

As for WTHQ, here’s what we took away:

  • Acceleration without sustainability is more harm than good
  • A meticulously curated toolkit will outperform a Mary Poppins bag any day
  • Power lies in the network—those who position themselves as guides, not gurus, are primed to deliver real impact
  • The level of sheer talent in New York City is so great it’d be upsetting if we weren’t lucky to be a part of it all

After a resoundingly successful first cohort, the city green-lit two more editions, also doubling the remit of the curriculum itself. During its run - before going on pause due to a certain global pandemic - the AMP NYC Accelerator Program served over 60 of the city’s most exciting creative businesses.

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Let’s get down to business.

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