Collective Labs Incubating, Sharing Space with Up-and-Comers in NY

Inside what once was The New York Times Building on West 43rd Street, ad tech company Collective has given startups some room to find their footing—while also pursuing its own growth plans.

Collective develops software and services that let brands, publishers, and marketers send advertising messages across devices from desktop computers to smartphones. For example, the company’s TV Accelerator software uses data from set-top boxes to help broadcasters and their advertisers find and target the television audience on their digital devices. Collective’s Visto data and reporting platform shows how ad campaigns perform.

CEO and co-founder Joe Apprendi (pictured) says ten-year-old Collective shares its street address with other notable companies from the digital world such as Yahoo, MongoDB, and Snapchat. Inside its headquarters, though, Apprendi saved some space for the little guys. Collective leased some 60,000 square feet in the building, which it moved into last October. Then the company carved out one-third of that space for what it calls Collective Labs, to incubate and house local startups. “We thought it was a great opportunity to make room for these companies, and offer some mentorship,” Apprendi says.

New York is a notoriously tough town for anyone to find affordable space to call their own. There are numerous shared, co-working, and incubator spaces around the city that cater to startups, and more are on the way.

So far eight companies, including Vanare, which developed a wealth management platform for financial advisors, and online marketing company CenterPoint Media call Collective Labs home.

Inside Collective's headquarters in New York.

Inside Collective’s headquarters in New York.

All told, 60 people work for the startups there, Apprendi says, and there is room to accommodate up to 100 people at 10 to 12 companies within the space. Companies at Collective Labs pay per desk for the space and use of the facility’s services, which offsets some operating expenses for Collective.

Apprendi says Collective does not take equity in these companies, but hopes to see some cross-pollination of their entrepreneurial spirit, engineering, and product development innovation. “That skill set and culture is something we wanted to encourage,” he says.

Startups began moving into the lab in March. As accommodating as Collective has been thus far, there may come a time when it needs space back for its own development. “We don’t plan on creating a whole separate business for this,” Apprendi says.

Currently some 220 people work for Collective at the company headquarters, says Apprendi. Overall, Collective has 350 employees at offices across the country, including in San Francisco and Detroit, and overseas in Britain and India. Apprendi says he wants to quickly grow the company to 400 employees.

Some of that expansion might happen abroad, so Collective Labs should be around for a while. Since its founding in 2005, Collective has acquired four companies, including London-based Web TV Enterprise, an online video ad network. “The U.K. is our fastest growing sector at the moment,” Apprendi says.

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