I had a chance to take my #2 son to the July New York Tech Meetup. A recent college graduate who’s accepted a job in investment banking for the tech sector out of San Francisco, he was surprised by the strong vibe in the room and the close-knit NYC tech community that coalesces each month around digital startups, coding and entrepreneurship.
Frankly, for an event that was held the day after the long July 4 weekend, I wasn’t expecting a big turnout. I was wrong. The team at NYTM drew a full house to NYU’s Skirball Center to hear from a handful of enthusiastic entrepreneurs proudly showcasing their creations. Moderator Nate Westheimer, NYTM chief Jessica Lawrence and NYTM Associate Brandon Diamond (who gave a shout out to his younger hacker brother in the audience), have the formula down pat, i.e., “No questions about biz models or revenue streams!”
|Brett & Brent of Sonar.me|
Every one of the ten tech companies that presented had some redeeming feature that earned them a place on the stage before this most discerning audience of 800 coders, students, VCs, lawyers, PR peeps and aspiring entrepreneurs.
The first company to present showed a location-driven app called Sonar.me that lets the user find and contact those with shared friends and interests who have checked in to the same venue. Hmmm. Neat idea for the physical networking crowd.
I also liked LocalBonus, which attempts to capture in a single interface all those bonus points your credit card company offers with purchases from participating merchants. The good news: the developers have the credit card part of the equation down pat. The challenge: lining up merchants. Didn’t Foursquare yesterday tout that it now has signed up 500,000 businesses? I guess you gotta start somewhere.
The music-minded purveyors of VivaLaPlaylist has entered a space whose buzz of late has been dominated by two ascendant competitors: SoundCloud and Turntable.fm, which just today announced a fresh infusion of $5-10 million in cash giving it a $40 million valuation.” Still, GigaOm proclaims that social music is booming, so presumably it’s a big sandbox in which to play.
The developers at Watchlr set out to tackle the issue of capturing digital videos for later viewing. So with this app, any video can be right-clicked to bring up a menu that will give the user the ability to save or share. It’s all very intuitive. “Does it work with some of the less than savory video sites on the Web?” One pervert in the audience asked. “Not…yet.”
Location and mobile increasingly dominate the digital conversation in the Alley and Valley. Taap.it brings the two together with an app that allows the user to find or sell goods and services locally in real-time. I raised my hand to ask about how the developers hope to avoid scam artists and sheisters. (Yelp, eBay, Amazon ratings?) But Nate’s eyes didn’t find me in the auditorium.
|Ron Williams of SnapGoods and Knod.es|
One of the more engaging platforms and presenters who was described on Twitter as “confident, authentic & funny” was Ron Williams for Snapgoods (now with Knod.es). Snapgoods is another Platform that allows one to find, sell or trade goods and services locally. Knode.es, a pivot, which was the more compelling piece, lets one take better advantage of his or her social network of friends and contacts.
Ron laid out the premise: we all have built these robust social networks with hundreds if not thousands of contacts/friends. Yet, we barely scratch the surface of their potential utility to our lives. He noted that after accepting a Facebook or LinkedIn friend, 80 percent of one’s network is never contacted again, except perhaps for a birthday wish. So who is in your network anyway?
|CityPockets’ Cheryl Yeoh|
How many daily deal sites do you subscribe to? According to CityPockets’ Cheryl Yeoh, there are some 4000 from which to choose (and that number’s growing), which make it hard to remember all the deals you bought, let alone where the deals can be had.
CitPockets helps you organize this with maps, deal listings by expiration dates, and even the ability to sell your deal via a secondary market. If you believe, like Screenwerk’s Greg Sterling does, that deal sites will continue to flourish, then having a single platform on which to store and sort them makes a hell of a lot of sense. Nice work, Cheryl and team.
After watching Bartek Wingwelski demo SkillSlate, a platform that seamlessly helps you find virtually any kind of professional service in any major U.S. city, I decided to give it a test run. I’m in need of a video producer who can webcast our July 21 PCNY lunch featuring TV producers/bookers. I inputted some basic info, and within 24 hours I have two qualified leads.
The site scrapes listings from Craigs List, Yelp, CitySearch, Google Places and elsewhere, and then uses college-educated, digitally savvy “skill scouts” to surface prospects to fill the requestor’s service need. What’s more the service providers see one another’s “bids,” so the prices are most competitive. Bartek cleverly brought out some breakdancers he found on Skillslate.
Last, but certainly not least, the audience was wowed by the group from NYU’s 3D labs, which has been painstakingly collaborating with NYU Medical School to create a remarkable 3D animation of the human body. “Bodies: The Exhibition,” step aside! The video for BioDigital Human below speaks volumes about this remarkable accomplishment and its potential applications.