So says Jim Edelstein, partner of 33Delivered, a web development and software application company which two months ago doubled in size to 22 employees and moved into a chic suite of offices on the second floor of the Seven21 Media Center on Broadway. As it happens, much of the brainstorming and cutting-edge creative work that is paving the way for this new media paradigm is coming out of Kingston.
Formerly known as Oxclove Workshop before it was bought and renamed by David Yakir, founder of one of the world’s first and largest digital advertising agencies, in the early 1990s, 33Delivered (the moniker was inspired by FDR’s launch of the New Deal in 1933) has focused much of its energies in recent months on a very high-profile account — the American Museum of Natural History.
“There’s a whole bunch of specific strategies and approaches we developed for the museum,” said Edelstein, including two iPhone applications. The one for the dinosaur collection was rated by Apple as the world’s best-selling educational app — and it was created right here in Kingston.
The iPhone apps are just one example of the type of content 33Delivered is creating for the museum and its dozens of other clients. Seven21’s state-of-the-art facilities and menu of services and expertise, offered by its small but diverse cluster of media businesses, perfectly fit 33Delivered’s need to create this content, and the relationship is already bearing fruit. For example, 33Delivered partnered with The Ellenbogen Group, the multimedia production company that also owns and manages Seven21, to create a new touch-screen design for the museum’s mineral exhibit — technology that Edelstein said would ideally be adapted for the web. (“When we create an interactive function, ideally we create it once, so that it would also work on regular browsers with a mouse or on a mobile device.”)
“We did the graphic interface design, while 33Delivered did the coding,” noted Ellenbogen Group CEO Jeremy Ellenbogen. “It was really exciting, since we’d never done anything like this before.”
While 33Delivered is targeting its services to big ad agencies, following up with the contacts established by Yakir over many years, it’s also building on its museum work by pitching other major cultural institutions. An important part of its sell is that it can deliver the goods at a lower price point than the competition — a huge advantage hinging on its location in Kingston. Yakir noted that since the recession, “clients are demanding different price points. The reason I located the company in Kingston was not only for the development talent and lifestyle choice, but also because we can deliver a quality product for 30 percent of the total cost it would be in the city.”
Yakir, who had been working as a consultant in Florida after selling his successful internet marketing company — much of his contact with Oxclove had been through Skype — has bought a house across the river and is now in the process of moving to the area.
Almost full up
Meanwhile, the tenancy of 33Delivered is just one of many fortuitous developments at the Seven21 Media Center. After a couple of rough years, the center is now thriving, with a 90 percent occupancy rate. Recently, a space in the basement has been turned into The Bomb Shelter, a rehearsing and recording space for local bands. (Check out www.thebombshelter.org for more.) Ellenbogen said he sees the subterranean space evolving into a multimedia performance venue and plans to open a theater, comedy, and spoken word club. The group is constructing a self-service café on the first floor and has upgraded its Studio A facility, a popular place for events.
Other new tenants include Cinetrope, a film production company from Los Angeles, and Zoetika, an animation company with a niche in the pharmaceutical industry. Some long-term tenants are expanding, including The Mac Works (with does electronic recycling) and Evolving Media (it built the website for Natalie Merchant). A new radio station is setting up shop in the media center soon, and Ellenbogen is working on creating a “green screen” — a special studio in which scenes are shot and then superimposed against a tinted background that’s filled in with a set created through other media. The facility will be the only one that exists in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.
The Ellenbogen Group itself is flourishing, having recently launched a new web site that it linked to a social media campaign. It features a Wordpress blog that Jeremy updates every other day, which is linked to its Facebook page and Twitter account. The company created all the media for TechCity since acquiring the account in spring 2009, including a redesign of its website, a new logo, and a batch of videos, accompanied by original music. The website also includes an interactive map, in which the user can click on any building and find out the dimensions, amenities, etc. (The TechCity management uses the map as a real-time inventory of their space, Ellenbogen said.)
The TechCity connection led to a new account, TechCity tenant Solartech Renewables. The Ellenbogen Group redesigned the green company’s website and logo and has created several videos about its operations.
The videos Ellenbogen Group produces for various clients has proved to be an effective hook for new accounts. For example, while shooting a video for the opening of a new pharmaceutical industrial park in Tarrytown called the Biohud, on behalf of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp., Jeremy met the CEO of Regeneron, a biopharmaceutical company. The Ellenbogen Group is now shooting all the video training for the company’s 1,500 employees.
The energy that’s happening at Seven21 is spilling out into other corners of Kingston. Lou Spina, a former Seven21 tenant, has moved to the Kingston Media Factory, a former brush factory on Greenkill Avenue owned by Mike Piazza. Spina and his partner, Stephen Tenner, have created a performance space on the ground-floor loft under the auspices of a new production company, Stella May Productions.
The Kingston Media Factory has a total of 12 tenants, including several that recently relocated from the New York metropolitan area. They include Hutchings Photography, which produces children’s books and photographic illustrations for textbooks, and Angel Textiles, a textile broker (it takes patterns from designers and sends them to South Korea and China to figure out how to manufacture them).
Edelstein said he welcomes the activity, including any direct competition to his company that might spring up. “Seven21 exposes the depth of talent and resources that exist locally,” he said, noting that 33Delivered has been conferring with county leadership on types of incentives it could offer to attract more digital tech companies. “I want more competition. If we had more companies tied to the digital economy, then we would have a real economic catalyst for change.”