Startup Grind sat down with Minerva Tantoco, New York City’s first-ever Chief Technology Officer. As CTO, she is working to develop a citywide tech strategy and to encourage collaboration across other government agencies. While the Mayor’s Office of Technology isn’t classified as a startup, Tantoco argues that with the right mindset, you can turn any job into a startup.
Tantoco’s first 5 years of employment were for an artificial intelligence startup in Silicon Valley. Being a young woman trying to fit in definitely had its challenges. She wasn’t even old enough to rent a car! While she looks back on those years as some of her best and worst experiences, she made sure to note that they shaped the rest of her career. Tantoco agrees that when you work for a startup, you learn by doing. Every day is as meaningful as it can possibly be, because your business depends on it.
While Tantoco isn’t technically working for a startup as CTO of NYC, she believes that any job can share the qualities of a startup if you just look to see what you need, and then create it. She shares with us that being the first of anything is a fantastic opportunity, and seeking out new opportunities will open your eyes to new potential.
Tantoco has made huge strides in pushing NYC to be more progressive and embrace the startup community. From things like creating a .nyc domain to increasing free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the city, she is constantly working to make New York City supportive of local businesses. She explains how important it is to question the status quo, because if you aren’t constantly looking to improve, things will never change for the better.
Under Tantoco’s guidance, New York City is working to build relationships with entrepreneurs. They want to have an open dialogue with citizens so that they can better meet their needs. In addition, they are creating programs to expose students to fields in technology at a younger age. While things are only just beginning in NYC, don’t be surprised if you see a Chief Technology Officer position created soon in your city.