Co-working space General Assembly gives NYC startups a home

New York City’s tech ecosystem has been flourishing recently, with both rookies and alumni from local successes like Foursquare, Etsy and Gilt Groupe starting companies. Co-working space General Assembly (GA) is looking to become the central hub of New York’s early-stage startup scene.

Although GA is officially launching today, the offices have been open since the beginning of January. GA’s 20,000 square feet are near Union Square and several prominent venture capital firms. The space is a combination of open office space, conference rooms, classrooms, and a community space complete with a coffee bar and a barista (they’re still looking for the latter if you’re interested).

Entrepreneurs Adam Pritzker, Brad Hargreaves, Matthew Brimer, and Jake Schwartz started GA with significant financial backing from New York City’s Economic Development Corporation. Unlike incubators like TechStars or Y-Combinator, GA generates revenue through dedicated desk rentals, community memberships, and sponsorships. Sponsors include RackspaceSkypeSilicon Valley Bank and the law firm of Wilson Sonsini.

Dedicated residents and community members must apply for membership. There are currently 30 startups working full-time out of GA.

While there isn’t a time limit on GA residency, Pritzker told me, “We believe turn over will happen naturally when companies grow to a certain size.”

In my discussions with GA’s founders, they made it clear that a main focus for GA is to provide with education, professional services and advisors. Pritzker told me each GA full time residents and community members will teach classes in their areas of expertise. Brimer discussed ideas to provide GA residents with other essentials, including health insurance.

In addition to residents, a number of service providers will be conducting classes, including product design firm IDEO. Wilson Sonini Partner Adam Dinow, who will also teach classes at the facility, told me he and other members of his firm would be holding office hours at GA.

There are several other co-working spaces in the City targeted at tech startups. One, New Work City, recently announced a sponsorship from Google, which will include classes and activities focused on Google services. Others include Soho Haven and Polaris Ventures-run Dogpatch Labs.

Residents including venture backed companies like daily deal aggregator Yipit,  and ticket search-engine SeatGeek. It also includes promising up and comers like Movable Ink, a company that enables dynamic content inside emails, and NeverWare, whose technology allows Pentium 3 computers to run Windows 7.

The space has definitely been a hub of activity. I saw several startup CEOs and a prominent angel investor at GA last time I visited the space. The only place I see more check-ins amongst the City’s startup elite is at the nearby TechStars HQ/Pivotal Labs office. With classes set to start February 1, it’ll be interesting to see if General Assembly can fulfill it’s promise.