Made in New York

My #2 son was the first to accompany me to a New York Tech Meetup. He gave the thumbs up to his younger brother who joined my a few months later. And the other night, my #1 son finally caught the startup bug as evidenced by his joining this, the largest of the thousands of Meetup groups.

NYTM’s Jessica Lawrence

This month’s gathering opened with a beaming and thankful Jessica Lawrence, NYTM’s managing director, announcing a milestone. Formed in 2004 by Dawn Barber and founder Scott Heiferman, this diverse community of coders, academics, VCs, lawyers, entrepreneurs, PR types and overall tech enthusiasts had just surpassed the 25,000-member mark. Whoa! 

(No wonder tickets are so hard to come by. Sure glad to have that livestream.)

Playing hooky in the mountains of VT

Jessica (sans baseball cap) took the moderating reins from Nate Westheimer who was climbing Mt. Abraham in VT that afternoon, if one is to believe his Foursquare check-in (and photo —>).  Jessica opened by asking the sold-out audience of 800 how many were there for the first time. Hundreds of hands shot up! A good omen for sure.

Consmr Rates
Dashlane’s Daniela Perdomo

Rather than run down the ten presentations, I thought I’d focus on the three that struck a resonant chord with this blogger, a longtime PR pro who tends to look for newsworthy differentiation. I guess all those years plying the media filter built an appreciation for what it takes to earn/gain editorial traction. (See last post.)

The three consumer-facing startups I especially liked — Consmr, Dashlane and Social Bicycles (Sobi) — all took a novel and technology-driven approach to addressing issues we face individually or as a community. 

Ryan Charles’s cleverly named Consmr app allows CPG shoppers to use their mobile devices to scan product bar codes via a proprietary reader. It returns both essential pre-purchase information and includes a searchable social layer that provides consumer ratings of the scanned products, tens of thousands of them. One review for a condom brand: “Well, she didn’t get pregnant.”

The second startup that caught my fancy was Dashlane. Who knew that your Chrome form auto-fill extension fell short more than half the time? Wouldn’t it be great to have your “IDs, addresses, payment info, notes and passwords” appear instantly and 95% accurately when checking out on English and French-language e-commerce sites? 

Well, this is what Daniela Perdomo and Nishant Mani shared with the NYTM audience. The secret sauce: very sophisticated semantic analysis that recognizes virtually any form.

Finally, for the second time in a couple of weeks, I had a chance to hear Ryan Rzepecki’s vision for how bike-sharing can work in cities or on college or corporate campuses. Rzepecki, who has a Masters Degree from Hunter College in urban planning and who worked at the NYC DOT, had presented at a NYTM-sponsored event as part of Consumer Electronics Week in New York where I served as a judge alongside Union Square Ventures‘ GM Gary Chou and Shelby.TV‘s Reece Pacheco.  

Social Bicycle’s Ryan Rzepecki 

Anyway, Ryan’s cost-savings epiphany was the bike itself – a fortified, 45-lb versatile unit on wheels with no chain, a sturdy lock and all the electronics and GPS built in. Rather than having to return the bike to a central location, the removable lock enables the user to leave the bike anywhere within the riding area. Conversely, the GPS allows prospective users to find a bike nearby, all via their mobile devices. 

Crowdfunding Future Coders

Finally, I was glad to see my pal Toby Daniels, Social Media Week founder and impresario, share details of his Nokia-matched IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to send 25 underprivileged kids to Camp Interactive Technology Summer Camp.  Please visit here to donate.  

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