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NYCEDC Announces Five Winners of Take The H.E.L.M., a Competition to Encourage Businesses to Hire And Expand in Lower Manhattan

Booker, STELLAService, Grape Shot, Paperless Post and The Flatiron School Each Receive $250,000 Cash Grant in Order to Bring Innovative Businesses to Lower Manhattan

Contest Winners Will Continue Lower Manhattan’s Economic Diversification and Growth in the Creative Services and Technology Sectors

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the winners of “Take the H.E.L.M.: Hire + Expand in Lower Manhattan,” a competition which encourages creative and innovative businesses to open a new office or expand an existing office in Lower Manhattan.  The five winners will each receive $250,000 to assist the businesses in moving to or expanding an existing location on or south of Chambers Street.  Take the H.E.L.M, an NYCEDC program administered by HR&A Advisors, Inc. and sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, was designed to encourage growth and diversification of Lower Manhattan's economy.  The winners, Booker, STELLAService, Grapeshot, Paperless Post and The Flatiron School, were selected from a group of over 300 applicants.  Narrowed down to 19 finalists in February, the finalists, each of whom received a $10,000 cash grant, took part in two days of programming on Wednesday and Thursday, which included interviews with the competition selection committee, a breakfast with the Association for a Better New York and a tour of the WTC Site and Memorial.  The 19 finalists were broken into five separate tracks: creative companies, technology companies, startups less than three years old, companies opening their first office in New York City and companies currently in Lower Manhattan looking to expand in the area.  The winners were announced at an award ceremony last evening at 7 World Trade Center.

“Take the H.E.L.M. builds upon the ongoing diversification of Lower Manhattan’s economy, linking creative and innovative businesses with the City’s already vibrant financial sector,” said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky.  “The five initial winners of the competition will soon establish themselves or expand within this dynamic neighborhood, serving as important engines for economic growth. I would like to congratulate all of our finalists and the competition winners, and wish them continued success in all their future endeavors.”

The five winners are:

  • Booker (Expanding in Lower Manhattan Track): Enables service businesses to streamline operations and maximize their revenues on a unified, cloud-based platform. 
  • STELLAService (Startups Track): Moving to Lower Manhattan from the Flatiron District, STELLAService objectively measures and rates the service quality of thousands of online retailers, helping consumers make more informed buying decisions and helping businesses benchmark and improve the end-to-end customer experience. 
  • Grapeshot (New to New York Track): Coming to New York from Cambridge, England, Grapeshot analyzes webpages to create keyword profiles based on probabilistic algorithms, for content recommendation and contextual advertising. 
  • Paperless Post (Technology Track): Leaving their current location on West 25th Street in Manhattan, Paperless Post will help users create custom online and paper stationery through elegant technologies and powerful design. Users pay Paperless Post directly for a product they love and trust for milestone events like weddings and holidays. 
  • The Flatiron School (Creative Track): Moving from West 26th Street in Manhattan, The Flatiron School gives passionate people the skills they need to become software developers, and helps them get jobs at fast growing technology companies in New York City.

“Lower Manhattan has already been so generous to Booker, helping us grow from 50 to nearly 200 people in just a year,” said Josh McCarter, CEO of Booker.  “This award and prize from Take the H.E.L.M. makes us feel even more privileged to be headquartered in such a vibrant community that helps businesses prosper, and we are paying it forward by giving away our software to Lower Manhattan spas and salons for one year as a thank you to our neighbors.”

"I am just so impressed how bold NYCEDC has been to organize this competition and attract so many companies to Lower Manhattan,” said John Snyder, CEO of Grapeshot.  “Coming from Cambridge, England, the opportunity to participate in growing New York's emerging LoMa technology cluster is an invitation to be part of the new heartbeat of New York.”

"It's a big honor to be selected as a winner in the Take the H.E.L.M. competition,” said Jordy Leiser, CEO and Co-Founder of STELLAService.  “It's a terrific initiative for the revitalization of Lower Manhattan, and we're thrilled to be a part of New York's continued momentum as a global epicenter for entrepreneurship and innovation." 

“Paperless Post is incredibly honored by this recognition from our city,” said James Hirschfeld, CEO of Paperless Post.  “We look forward to building a lasting home for our growing company in Lower Manhattan.”

The Selection Committee was chaired by Arthur Levitt, former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The full committee consisted of Levitt; Elizabeth H. Berger, President of the Downtown Alliance; Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and CEO, American Express Company; Richard Florida, Professor, University of Toronto and NYU and Senior Editor, The Atlantic; Alicia Glen, Head of the Urban Investment Group, Goldman Sachs Bank USA; Lawrence D. Lenihan Jr., Founder and Managing Director, Firstmark Capital; Alexis Ohanian, Founder of Reddit, Breadpig and Hipmunk; Richard Parsons, Senior Advisor, Providence Equity Partners, LLC, Former Chairman, Citigroup, Inc. and Former Chairman and CEO, Time Warner, Inc.; Seth W. Pinsky, President, NYC Economic Development Corporation; Carley Roney, Co-Founder and Editor In Chief, XO Group Inc.; David Tisch, Managing Partner, Boxgroup and Co-Founder, Techstars NYC.  The Take the H.E.L.M. competition was originally comprised of four tracks, but after Hurricane Sandy, an additional fifth track was added in which a Lower Manhattan company would be prioritized in order to help businesses potentially impacted by the storm.

“Lower Manhattan is no longer exclusively New York’s financial district. We want to move the ball forward in making Lower Manhattan—a district known primarily as Wall Street—the core of innovation and engine of economic diversity in the city,” said Arthur Levitt, former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Chairman of the Selection Committee.

"What I love most about the burgeoning startup community in Lower Manhattan is that it brings some of New York's most dynamic and innovative companies (who are also hiring!) to the heart of the financial district,” said Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit and member of the Selection Committee.

“Downtown Alliance research shows there is a vast concentration of the region’s best and brightest workers living within a short commute of Lower Manhattan,” said Downtown Alliance President Elizabeth H. Berger. “With high quality office space offered at competitive prices and at the center of a robust transportation network, it is no surprise that so many start-ups and creative firms are eager to set up shop in America’s fourth largest central business district.”

In the past decade, Lower Manhattan has seen over $30 billion in infrastructure investment and an influx of residents as well as new businesses, 86% of which are not financial related.  Recently, both established and emerging companies such as Condé Nast, XO Group, and Fast Company have established their presence in Lower Manhattan.  To further spur this growth, Take the H.E.L.M. is looking for innovative businesses that will bring additional talented employees to the neighborhood and further diversify the economic base of this central business district.  The program is made possible by a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is funded through Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Take the H.E.L.M. will begin its second competition later this year.  For the latest updates, visit  


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.

About HR&A Advisors, Inc.

HR&A Advisors, Inc. (HR&A) is an industry-leading real estate, economic development and energy efficiency consulting firm. HR&A has provided strategic advisory services for some of the most complex mixed-use, neighborhood, downtown, and regional development projects across North America and abroad for over thirty years, and has offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.


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