Crain's Names Convene Fastest Growing Company in NYC

Conference center network had revenue growth of 3,436 percent between 2009 and 2012.

Ryan Simonetti and Chris Kelly

Crain’s New York Business has recognized Convene, a developer, owner, and operator of urban day conference centers, as the fastest growing company in New York City. The magazine’s second annual listing of the Fast 50, released on Oct. 7, ranks Convene on the top of the list.

Convene’s co-founders and principals, Christopher Kelly (above, right) and Ryan Simonetti (above, left), noticed a shortage of meeting space for one-day events in the city and set out to fill the gap. Convene’s sales have increased 3,463 percent from 2009 to 2012.

Convene currently operates three conference centers in Manhattan with an additional center, 101 Park Ave. near Grand Central, scheduled to open later this year. Opening in early 2014 and starting Convene’s national expansion is a location in Tysons Corner, Va., its first conference center outside of New York.

What makes Co-Founder Kelly especially proud of this distinction is that Convene is a brick and mortar business. “The majority of the buzz about entrepreneurial successes usually centers around technology. Companies that don’t have a physical presence and oftentimes don’t serve a core need,” explains Kelly. “It’s a rare occasion when a small business can see an unmet demand from Fortune 1000 companies, position itself to capitalize on that demand, and cease the opportunity and not let it pass by.”

That’s exactly what Convene, originally named Sentry Centers, has done. Convene’s conference centers have been ideal complements to the many select service hotels opening in New York City as well as those hotels that are short on meeting space.

Eventually, the company plans to grow internationally. “Our client base is Fortune 1000 companies. Their meetings footprint is by no means restricted to the current geographic scope we serve. We see our job as going into all their markets.”