Queens invites businesses to incubators in a bid to grow its tech industry

The 3D App and DevJee, Inc., both property-technology firms, said that participating in the Rockaways incubator would give them a deeper connection to Queens as they grow.

“I live in Rockaway, and my kids go to school here,” said Kathirvel Kumararaja, president of DevJee, founded in 2015. “To see tech incubation happen in my neighborhood is great.”

Kumararaja added that having a base outside his home would also benefit his company’s growth. Currently, DevJee serves six clients in the local area—mostly property managers and owners who use DevJee’s software for tenant management. But he is working to apply his technology, which relies on artificial intelligence, to the mental health field. “I don’t have a road map for that,” he said. “Now it gives me a good ecosystem of skills and ideas to flourish here.” 

The soon-to-open Jamaica location of the Queens Incubator also announced its first group of four business owners who will be able to move in when that location opens next year.

Over the last decade, hiring at technology firms accounted for one-quarter of the city’s impressive job growth. Even during the two years of Covid when face-to-face industries like hospitality and the arts suffered, tech firms sustained the city, preventing worse job loss.

But in spite of a new university—Cornell Tech—on Roosevelt Island in the East River, a stone’s throw from Queens and a substantial effort at CUNY campuses like LaGuardia Community College to bolster tech skills and entrepreneurial energy among residents, Queens added only 3,000 jobs in the tech ecosystem since 2012, in part because of a failed plan to open an Amazon office in borough. That’s far less than 73,000 new jobs in Manhattan and 14,000 in Brooklyn, according to data from an update on the tech ecosystem published in early November by trade group Tech:NYC and the Association for a Better New York.

At a time when many New Yorkers do not commute daily into jobs in Manhattan’s central business districts, building hyper-local ecosystems is imperative for Mayor Eric Adams’ economic plans.

“Support for our local tech entrepreneurs and business owners is at the core of Mayor Adams’ vision for a robust and equitable economic recovery for our City,” said Kevin D. Kim, commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services.

For The 3D App, that support of Queens was mutual. The 3D App, currently a 16-person firm, created a $30 tool for achieving accurate measurements of real estate square footage that is widely applicable to the industry. Having recently signed its first contract with Skipp Renovation, itself funded by local venture capital firm MetaProp, The 3D App will make the most of its location as it uses the Rockaways incubator as an anchor for its growth.

“I think Rockaway is up and coming,” said Bill Staniford, chief strategy officer at The 3D App “I’ve wondered why it hasn’t exploded–I love the area.”

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