Jnews is about news!

Check out Contrary NYC, a ‘Soho House for techies’ community hangout that’s generating buzz and drawing visitors like Serena Williams

  • Silicon Valley venture firm, Contrary, recently opened a community space for tech workers in New York.
  • The goal is to create a common gathering ground for people to meet like-minded professionals.

New York City is always buzzing with its share of exclusive venues. There’s the famous — or infamous, depending on your perspective — Soho House, a members-only club with screening rooms and event spaces that caters to “people with a creative soul.”

There’s also Zero Bond, which has been frequented by a more business-minded cast like Elon Musk, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Kim Kardashian.

In September, Silicon Valley venture capital firm Contrary added another space to the list.

Contrary NYC bills itself as a “Soho House for techies.” It’s a members-only club where entrepreneurs, coders, and folks in the broader tech world can congregate.

But unlike the city’s other exclusive gathering grounds, there are no pools, hot tubs, or cocktail lounges. Instead, Contrary is one, big, open-concept workspace.

Since it opened, Contrary has hosted comedy shows, brunches for founders, and brought in speakers. It’s already drawn famous personalities like Serena Williams.

Benjamin Laufer, Contrary’s head of programs, said the goal is to recreate the run-ins and “serendipitous interactions” you often have with people in grade school or college.

“You leave college, and you live a pretty atomistic existence, you pretty much are confined to your co-workers or your roommates and the people you interact with,” Laufer said.

Contrary is aiming to foster relationships for the long haul.

Until recently, the space has mostly been accessible to people already associated with the firm— investors, founders, and fellows. Now, they’re opening up applications to the broader community.

Eric Tarczynski, Contrary’s founder and managing partner, said they’re looking for people that are “ambitious, entrepreneurial, and kind.” Those three adjectives will translate into an acceptance rate of somewhere between 5%-8%, he said.

“There are people out there who I feel like, drop 500 people into a Slack group, and call it a community, right?” Tarczynski said. “For us, I think community is like this living breathing organism where people feel a sense of home and purpose and with their tribe.”

I paid a visit to Contrary during the second week of October, the tail end of New York Tech Week — five days of events dedicated to the city’s growing startup ecosystem. Manhattan was buzzing with venture capitalists hungry for new deals and startup founders hoping to raise funding.

It seemed like the right time to see the space in action. Here’s a closer look at what I found.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *