Huntington: A Haven For Tech Entrepreneurs

TOWN OF HUNTINGTON, New York, June 19

BY: Andrew Wroblewski

No matter where you turn in Huntington, you’ll find that one thing is certain: there’s a technology renaissance afoot.

“When you look at Long Island as a whole, Huntington is the only place where something like this can happen,” Jeffrey Leventhal, co-founder and CEO of Work Market, an online marketplace where businesses can seek out freelancers, contractors and consultants, said. “There’s a mix of everybody: people just starting out, people already established – and always people looking to be in a great living environment.”

One of the many recent technology startups spawning out of Huntington, Work Market started as the brain child of Leventhal and his partner, Jeffrey Wald, co-founder and COO of the company.

The staff of Work Market poses for a picture in their Huntington office. The startup company has expanded so quickly, it had to move from Wall Street into a bigger office in February.
The staff of Work Market poses for a picture in their Huntington office. The startup company has expanded so quickly, it had to move from Wall Street into a bigger office in February.

In Leventhal’s 24-year career, he was always looking to build upon on his other businesses, one of which was very similar to Work Market but limited in terms of scope, he said. Instead of just assisting a marketplace of information technology freelancers, Leventhal, of Huntington, thought he might be able to broaden the market to freelancers and consultants of any workspace.

The idea took hold in the form of Work Market, which Leventhal and Wald founded in 2010 and then launched into beta by August 2011 – aiding a select group of companies with the help of investors like Fred Wilson, a general partner of Union Square Ventures; Mo Koyfman, a general partner Spark Capital; and Jordy Levy, a general partner of SoftBank Capital.

But what exactly does Work Market do, you might ask?

“The goal is to connect freelancers with companies that are looking to hire,” Diego Lomanto, vice president of marketing for Work Market, said. “We really want to create a platform for companies to use and manage freelancers… Any type of freelancers, regardless of where they find them and what type of work they’re doing, we help companies from end to end with the management of that.”

In January 2012, Work Market claimed to have helped contractors earn $7 million by using the service. By 2014, the company was ready to expand and partnered up with SAP AG, the self-proclaimed world leader in enterprise software and software-related services in terms of revenue. Now, with over 40 employees as of January 2014, the company, once on Wall Street, has moved into a bigger office – located at 7 High St. – and has found freelancers and consultants for various top-name companies.

Jamie Billig, account exec for Work Market, reps the company while working away at the company's office space in Huntington.
Jamie Billig, account exec for Work Market, reps the company while working away at the company’s office space in Huntington.

And as Leventhal said, it’s a surge that many believe can only happen here in Huntington – an idea that caught the attention of Mark Lesko, executive director for Accelerate Long Island in Melville.

“If you had to pick a part of Long Island where you’re really seeing a tremendous amount of startup activity, it’s Huntington,” Lesko said in a March interview. “Technology workers are really flooding the streets of Huntington and that’s only going to continue.”

Accelerate Long Island, a nonprofit seed fund for entrepreneurs and startups on Long Island, has been helping companies get off the ground since 2012, and while Work Market isn’t one of Accelerate Long Island’s projects, it is one that caught Lesko’s eye.

“Since 2012, when I started running Accelerate Long Island, Work Market’s headcount has more than doubled,” Lesko, 47, of East Setauket, said. “The cookbook for a growing economical region would go something like this: a few great startups – which Huntington already has in Work Market and eGifter; some super entrepreneurs; a few great locations; and a social living space for people to interact in. Huntington has all of that.”

With tech companies like Work Market and eGifter, and others like Teedot in Cold Spring Harbor and Robot Fruit in Westbury making their start in Huntington, along with LaunchPad Huntington – a tech incubator on Main Street that offers work space to young entrepreneurs and startup companies to get things going –it’s all come together to form what has become known to those in the industry as “the Huntington corridor,” making it easy to see why Lesko is excited.

And he’s not the only one.

Lomanto and Leventhal alike praised Huntington for its diversity in terms of business men and women of all ages and families flooding the streets of Huntington, with Leventhal calling it “one of the greatest things about our culture.”

“[Huntington has] all of the things that creative, really talented people like,” Lomanto, 39, of Stony Brook said. “I absolutely love working here.”

Work Market employees work through the day at their Huntington office space.
Work Market employees work through the day at their Huntington office space.

Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills (Thursday, June 19, 2014;  A6)

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