Angel investors and startups meet in exclusive event

NEW YORK–iBreakfast/iEvening held its first 2016 Startupalooza event last January 27 at Microsoft following its mini-trade show format. It’s how angel investors go around to talk to each entrepreneur at their own pace.

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/pitch-2016-tickets-19873395862

Most of the startups at the meetup were clearly in their very early stages. Vidpal is an online video auctioning platform where people anywhere in the world can request videos while giving anyone an option make money by accepting video assignments.  

Toby Dattolo of Chaptertheapp has come up with an app that encourages people to share their passion with like-minded people in that hope they can ignite positive action together. 

Nothing stands out more than an actual functioning apps, which Shrinktheapp.com demonstrated on its phone. Because each brand runs its own loyalty program, the app offers rewards as one taps into one brand after another to claim in stores.

Another finished product from a young Brazilian-American is what he called “Flipboard for lists” called Listbeam.

 

Other presenters include Tech Trader, which reportedly works as a fully autonomous system capable of trading thousands of stocks simultaneously with no human intervention. Instead of relying on the points of view of an academy, mathematician or scientist, it leverages what the best traders do at scale.  

Another company, USBsports, is looking into providing a platform that houses all the information athletes and coaches need to reach their goals.

For Skin OS, it’s all about how it offers an applicable skin treatment technology for use at home.

CommonSensibly assists people and businesses in using simple common sense processes for their growth.

Vognition has been around for sometime, but if you haven’t heard about it, it offer natural language voice controls for home automation systems.  

Vognition offers a voice control solution that lets users choose any mobile device or smart home controller to give a voice command.

Other exhibitors included Groom Dinkneh for Anchor Your Bike, Helena Merwe of A-Plus Consulting, Trevor Crest of Crest Wealth Planning, Ohad Tov of ISM Wearable Electronics and Syed Shah of 12 Tech LLC, a web development company.  

On organization effectiveness, ‘hope is not a strategy’

NEW YORK–Last January 26, AlleyBoost featured two motivational speakers, Brett Morgan of GothamCulure and Dan Markovitz, an author and Yale professor, to talk about organizational effectiveness.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/daniel-markovitz-mbalecturer-stanford-university-building-the-fit-organization-tickets-19787258222

“Hope is not a strategy,” Morgan said simply before he proceeded to talk about how key influencers make organizations function better.

Porter: “Strategy is about making choices”; Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”; Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Best of all, Morgan emphasized how important it is to understand what you’re doing. Taking his cue from Drucker, he said: “Culture should permeate an organization. Culture is foundation.”

On leadership, he goes back to John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Quoting himself, “If you don’t know why you’re doing it, stop doing it. Or you will not know how to be successful.”

Markovitz, a marathoner in high school, thinks an organization should train like an athlete and while doing so, must know the approach to running efficient organizations: lean methodology. “Lean is about how to do more with less.”  

He takes “the fit organization” literally and in his book, he said he makes it a point that the language is easy to understand. “Athletes rigorously pursue improvement. Yet companies don’t it this way,” he laments.

In his book, he said he has 6 core principles that companies need to adhere to; he names three of them at the meetup:

 

  1. Commit to improvement. If you are going to be fit, you have to do it everyday. While it may not be standard practice anymore, he said it can be done if one has a suggestion box or even a public suggestion wall. This makes the company’s commitment to improvement visible. For hare-brained ideas, he said you can help turn a bad idea into a good idea.
  2. Increase value.  Cutting costs don’t work  He proceeds to tell us how some companies laid off hundreds of people to cut costs when it should have increased its value. Wild Things Gear is company that he thinks adds value to consumers because it allows you to customize their winter jackets.

Another company, Bilder & De Clerq in Amsterdam shows food shoppers all the ingredients of a meal by putting them on display in tables around the store. So you just take all the items sprawled on the table for you to re-enact a dish.

Markovitz said his book, Building the Fit Organization, should walk you step by step through the process of making lean as intrinsic to your company in your pursuit of profits. You will learn how to make an unshakeable commitment to increasing the value provided by doing the right work in the right way with continuous monitoring of processes and structured coaching for everyone.

But what if you don’t have the mindset of a fit person? “Use your own metaphor,” he said.

 

 

‘Obstacle is men,’ says female guest in tech talk

NEW YORK–Who’s stopping women from succeeding in the tech startup world? The male-dominated VC world or even their fellow women?

Five women panelists at the Disruptive Technologies meetup last January 25 at Microsoft were in agreement: They face many challenges with just not VCs dominated by men but with their gender as well, although they see the latter less of a problem in the tech space.

http://www.meetup.com/Disruptive-Technologists-in-NYC/events/226775835/?a=ea1_grp&rv=ea1&_af=event&_af_eid=226775835&https=off

One of the panelists said, “The obstacle is men; men should be more women than men saying women should be more like men.”

The panelists were Lori Hoberman,  lawyer and mentor to 37 Angeles; Caitlin Thompson, director of content at Acast, a Swedish company that offers end-to-end podcasting services; Aria Finger, CEO at DoSomething.org, a cause-oriented group for young people; Leslie Ali Walker, CEO and co-founder of Need/Done, an app that helps working parents get the help they need from the people they trust and Maria Seidman, co-founder at Yapp, an app that helps create and publish mobile apps without coding or design experience required.

Before the discussion, Susan Danziger, founder/CEO of Ziggeo, showed how to broadcast events on her app, especially to the meetup at ziggeo.com/h/disruptnyc. Ziggeo uses a patent-pending video capture API/SDK technology.

Each panelist shared her thoughts:

On why women are different from men

  • Women are apologetic about asking for money; there’s hesitation. Men go out there (and ask for money)
  • Women feel beholden but they should think it’s worth investing in them
  • Women do research, making sure their ducks are in a row; men just go out (and do it)

Obstacles that can slow down success

  • We create some obstacles ourselves.
  • There’s a lack of women investors
  • Some don’t believe in themselves. If you waste time because of obstacles, you become a terrible person
  • The obstacle is men; men should be more women than men saying women should be more like men
  • I was told (by a man) I was too ambitious. It is important to see obstacle on the road, whether you want to go around the system or find another road.
  • Learn about obstacles and what may not be overcome

How do you feel about being a woman in tech?

  • You have to learn how not to scratch and claw your way to the top; I promised myself I’ll never do it that way.
  • It should be gender-blind
  • Women should mentor other women not being taught by men
  • Still have a long way (for us) but millennial (women are changing things)
  • Once you’re on top, you can lead by example
  • Women are being ignored in my space so I am doing this
  • Make sense of it all by advocating (for women) and listening to different stories

Why are women not helping other women?

  • Tech industry is more open; women helping other women is happening in tech industry, not in other industries
  • If women my age are not helping me, I’m going younger (who help older women)

What’s the best way to raise perception of women in tech space?

  • If we can have more research about women performing well, then it will raise value of women
  • If the women succeed, they can become investors (for women)

On seeking funds

  • Picking your investor team is a highly personal decision; (you don’t want a) nasty divorce
  • Make sure to have (the right) people and associate on your side and have someone before he or she leaves the VC firm

On approaching women VCs for funds

  • I think it’s limiting. The opportunities (whether men or women VCs) are endless

 

Uncubed co-founder: ‘Smell the culture of an office’

NEW YORK–If you were at the Startup Grind last January 21, you would have heard about the startups you should not work for from Tarek Pertew himself, the co-founder and chief creative officer of Uncubed, which holds big hiring conferences. He also runs a publication, Wakefield.

http://www.meetup.com/uncubed/events/227893080/?rv=ea1&_af=event&_af_eid=227893080&https=off

What are the names of these companies? Since Pertew asked if the event was being recorded, it behooves us to keep our lips sealed, except for the company he did say you should work for: It’s Behance, the site that offers creative professionals a site to showcase their portfolio.

“Behance is the No 1 place to work for,” he said, pointing out how the company takes care of its employees very well. He did not elaborate. But he did emphasize how important it is to know the startup you’re applying to as he likes to keep reminding anyone.

Pertew asked us to trust our instinct when job-hunting.. “Smell the culture of an office, (Watch) if people are looking down on you the moment you walk in. You’ll feel it.”

Tarek has been featured as an expert in startups and employment in a number of publications, including the NY Times, Forbes, CNN, CBS, About.com and a jobs expert for Newsday. Pertew  co-founded a couple of startups in the hiring space Referio, a crowd-sourcing referral hiring platform and MyWorkster, a platform that connects alumni with students, ultimately evolving into a national job fair business.

 

You need to have a presence on Linkedin. and it should up to date. Having a presence in one other social network like Twitter or Quora is also vital.

 

Now assuming you have picked a startup to work for, how do you keep your job?

 

“The most powerful thing is having a command of the (English) language,” he said by way of presenting yourself and, as he mentioned earlier and just as crucial, having the writing chops, which he said proved helpful in his startup’s early stages.

Asked about the fictional character he would hire, he said the Count of Monte Cristo whom he thought was resourceful. “It’s very hard to teach resourcefulness.”

Uncubed has not raised venture capital, although he did get an uncle to invest in his early business. Pertew started as a clothing buyer at Lord & Taylor. Selling T-shirts was his first foray into entrepreneurship a decade ago.

Everybody was into selling T-shirts at the time, so how did he do it? “The difference between success and failure is timing,” he said.

‘AI is stuck because it fell in love with stats and big data’

NEW YORK–”Why is AI (artificial intelligence) stuck?” asked Gary Marcus of Geometric Intelligence.”Because it has fallen in love with statistics and big data.” He was showing how, in so many ways, AI is not where we thought it would be by now. For example, one would expect translation online by now to be more precise but not, really. Quoting Peter Thiel, he also said: “We wanted flying cars instead we got 140 characters,” in reference to Twitter, of course.

http://www.meetup.com/NYC-Data-Business-Meetup/events/227485628/

Marcus was at the Data-Driven meetup last January 19 at Bloomberg. Marcus, a scientist, bestselling author and entrepreneur, had the crowd of data scientists, developers and business intelligence analysts chuckling along with his funny yet whip-smart and practical insights. He is also  professor of psychology and neural science at NYU.

The other presenters were Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense, which handles business intelligence for complex data; Shivon Zilis, investor at Bloomberg Beta, an early-stage VC firm; and Dan Scholnick, general partner at Trinity Ventures, a VC firm based in Silicon Valley.

Started 8 years ago, Orad likes to say how Sisense came about because of 5 data geeks who met in university and who wanted to make business intelligence understandable, cost-efficient and accurate,” adding how “the more complex your data the more you spend.”

Sisense is bringing disruptive simplicity for big data or multi-source data. He run a list of things the company is looking into: DBA to build database’ defining what data will be queried; joining tables upfront; normalizing and creating a star schema.

What lessons have they learned at Sisense? “Dream big. Refine benefits. Don’t automate, obliterate Disrupt, don’t improve. Be totally different, that’s the only way to offer value,” he said.

“Speed is not the end game but beginning of something else,” he added.

Shivon Zilis of Bloomberg Beta gave us updates on the companies that the venture capital fund is investing on–hundreds of them that she certainly had no time to explain but show, slide after slide, the logos of many recognizable names. She termed it an “explosion of activity” with “startups focusing on niches that provide immediate value”  

In all these investments, Zilis listed the following what-if scenarios that we certainly hoped can be solved: what if I had the same support as a Fortune 400 CEO?; what if I never had to feel lonely again; what if I never had to go to a primary care physician; what if I could measure the effectiveness of every word I said? what if I never had to drive again?

 

Some realistic expectation includes how in five years, it will be crazy for a farmer to overwater their fields or how in five years it will be crazy to ever hit “publish “without using a domain specific text optimizer, one that makes you smarter even when you’re not using it.

It was also good to hear Scholnick of Trinity Ventures say that his VC firm doesn’t outsource work to junior staff, which have become important for startups looking to reach the decision makers right away.  

As for hiring, he advised startups to make sure they’re hiring people with the right experience

Crowdfunding forecast for 2016

NEW YORK–Last January 21, Gotham Media gathered experts in the crowdfunding space to  give us the lowdown on the best option for you at the Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz offices.

http://www.meetup.com/GothamEntrepreneurs/events/227298466/

Gordon Platt, founder and president of Gotham Media, moderated the panelists Christian Busch, senior VP of marketing at Indiegogo;  Peter Einstein, co-founder of The Crowdfunding Network & LaunchIPO.com; Ariel Hyatt, founder of Cyber PR/Cyber PR Music; Julia Maltby, director of business development at Plum Alley and Nicolas Leeper, analyst at Seed Invest.

Following are the insights from the panelists:

  • The act of crowdfunding campaign is an advertising campaign; the lower end of it, it’s a sales campaign
  • You need to have specific targets when email blasting
  • Crowdfunding is a form of marketing; you need to have a plan, even paid media efforts, very good marketing efforts  
  • People look for those already with a platform
  • Growth hacking is actually direct marketing times 10
  • You need a soft launch campaign or private funding a week before or 48 hours at least to raise initial funds (for show)
  • Get 30 percent funding ahead so when you launch in a crowdfunding site, you’re more legit
  • Getting some initial funds (and people seeing it at a crowdfunding site) is all about psychology; people like to see a winner
  • A business model that is easier to understand can make it work in a crowdfunding site
  • (A good) consumer-facing product (works most of the time)  
  • Make sure you have engaged users
  • Largest crowdfunding countries are US and China
  • Only a dozen among thousands of fund-seekers have reached the million-dollar level in funds — and they are the ones who get in the news
  • How crowdfunding seekers are featured in Indiegogo are based on site’s algorithm and editorial (choice). A certain velocity on a campaign is needed
  • Be careful when using videos in your crowdfunding efforts or you could face a lawsuit with the wrong message
  • Crowdfunding platform’s share of 5 percent in most crowdfunding sites may not go down or up (anymore)
  • 5 percent share in equity crowdfunding is (obviously) not going to work
  • Equity crowdfunding success is about diversification; investing in 10 or so companies

Grist for the tech mill: 2015 events from over 1,100 NY tech meetups

data-driven meetup-nov2015

By Dennis Clemente

There are more than 1,100 tech meetups in New York. Here’s a summary of what happened in one year from March to December 2015.

Instead of having the always selling mentality, Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer of Hubspot, suggests having an always-be-helping mentality. Roberge’s sales talk last December 17 at Enterprise Sales Meetup in midtown Manhattan was especially meaningful as it’s not too often you hear someone from a programming background lead sales teams. The topic, Sales Acceleration Formula, was the same title of his book based on his experience taking a job in sales at Hubspot and coming from a programming background.

It was not your typical meetup in the city. For one, it was scheduled on a Friday night last December 18 (most meetups in the city are from Monday to Thursday). Second, it was held at a store, the new Microsoft Flagship Store on the shopping district of Fifth Avenue. But the crowd trickled in to watch the presentation of devices at the meetup curiously billed “Understanding Live Video Streaming with Periscope and Meerkat.”

German startups Keeen, Favendo and Night Adivsors took turns demonstrating their platforms at the German Accelerator NY last December 15 at Rise NY.

Would you rely on Big Data or The Force? It was a Star Wars evening for the Data-Driven meetup last December 14 at Bloomberg, especially for Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight who sounded giddy using the epic fantasy flick as reference for his presentation. He was joined by Arcadia Data, MapR and Datameer.

”How do you make sense of any mess?” That was the first question information architect Abby Covert threw at the audience last December 10 at the Designers & Geeks meetup at the Spotify offices.

“Life’s too short to build something nobody wants,” says Ash Maurya in his talk last December 8 at We Work in Wall Street. Maurya is the acclaimed author of “Running Lean,” a concise guide that helps you take action in using lean startup and customer development principles. He was at We Work to present his ideas for scaling business–clearly a prelude to his upcoming book, “Scaling Lean.” For Maurya, the root cause of a startup’s problem is when solution is perceived as the product. “Your solution is not the product. Your business model is the product.”

Last Dec 9, Uncubed took the holiday season as an opportunity for startups like Moat to discuss their 2015 accomplishments and future plans at its offices in the Lower East Side. By 2016, Moat, an independent SaaS Marketing analytics firm focused on transforming online brand advertising through trusted measurement and analytics, will reportedly be the first third party to measure viewability on YouTube.

Last December 1, Hardware Meetup featured talks from the founders of Grove, OneDrop and Boxee at the Microsoft offices. Gabe Blanchet, CEO of Grove, showed how food lovers can grow food at home while–get this–fish swims below it. Yes, even it will fit in a cramped New York apartment.

How do you make data scientists more productive? Jeremy Achin has an answer for you. The current path to becoming a data scientist is based on learning statistics, programming and algorithms, then applying practical knowledge and practicing real world experience which can unfortunately take up a lot of time. Achin spoke with other presenters Josh Bloom of Wise.io, Alexi Le-Quoc, founder of Datadog and Haile Owusu, chief data scientist of Mashable at Data-Driven’s monthly meetup last November 16 at Bloomberg.

Moral rights versus individual rights. That’s the struggle the entertainment industry faces these days when individual rights have blurred the lines between individual ownership and what is other people’s content, the title of the breakfast forum hosted by Gotham Media last November 18 at the Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz at 40th Street on Madison Avenue.

What is Birchbox? In the city, most tech meetups always asks people by a show of hands, how many people have heard of Birchbox? Most of the nearly hundred people raised their hand. If you’re still wondering, what it is about, it’s this: Birchbox delivers monthly boxes of beauty or grooming samples, picked to match your profile. Last November 19, CTO Liz Crawford talked about her role and how the company operates at the NYC European Tech Meetup at Spotify’s roomy offices.

Last November 9, Coinvent held a whole-day tech startup fair with several startups and inspirational talks at the Metropolitan Avenue in Chelsea. Dog Parker was one of the most popular startups as it showed a “doghouse” that provides secure dog parking when you’re out and about in the city with your dog and you need to run an errand. Dog Parker partners with businesses to place Dog Parkers in front their stores.

Last November 3, Alley Boost held a half-day startup expo featuring more than 60 startups at La Venue on 12th Avenue, blocks away from the Javits Convention Center.

The future of event ticketing will have some kind of empowerment and engagement, according to Taku Harada, CEO and co-founder of Peatix who presented at last November 2 at the Japan NYC Startups at Pivotal Labs.

The NY Expo Business Conference held last October 27 at the Javits Center packs in hundreds of startups, not necessarily all online-based companies or early startups. Touted as the largest New York business conference event, it has exhibitions, seminars and free business consultations for an audience that’s not entirely from the city either.

Last October 14, OLC attended AngelCube NYC Demo Day at WeWork in SoHo. In classic WeWork fashion, it took less than a minute for us to be reminded that there was beer on tap (In addition to a cheese plate and an array of mini-burgers). WeWork’s creative space had a foosball table, a kitchenette disguised as a bar, and hanging light bulbs with exposed filament.

What is the real reason why Microsoft Ventures Accelerator can choose to fund your startup for $500,000 without equity? Not only that, you get work in its Seattle office and have what graduates say are great meals as you work on your startup there.

“It’s Tinder for doctors,” says Toby Hervey about his app, on-demand house-call doctors. He was one of the presenters that included Ulula, Kiddo App and Domain Skate last October 20 at the NY Tech Breakfast at Microsoft.

The second Korean Summit NYC last October 16 at the New Yorker Wyndham. featured several Korean startups with Charlie Kim, founder and CEO of Next Jump, and Murat Aktihanoglu, managing director of Entrepreneurs Roundtble Accelerator as main speakers.

Last October 14, the New York Tech Meetup brought back two of its most popular demos – Addicaid and Pager — to mark the launch of its new “Demo Deep Dive” event series in lower Manhattan.

Last October 12, Area 1 Security, Birchbox, Livefyre and Metamind, presented at the packed Data-Driven meetup at Bloomberg.

It’s seldom you hear honest talk about investors snoring soundly or checking their phones every so often when you’re pitching to them but the founders of these companies — Wayup, F Cubed, Manicube, getringly and ELOQUII — had those stories to share. What’s more unusual perhaps is how even those who they thought couldn’t care less were the ones interested in investing in them.

Last October 7, Devin Rogerino of Inc.com presented a talk on video creation or how to cost effectively enter the video creation community at the Wix lounge in Chelsea. Essentially, you need four things—ideation, inspiration, brainstorming, planning—before you even make your video, and let’s not forget how you have to know whether you need YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo.

Last September 30, Tech in Motion deviated from its usual show-and-tell meetup presentations for an exposition of startups with cocktails at Ainsworth Midtown East. The startups on exhibit were beGlammed, GoButler, FlyCleaners, Zeel and ZIRX, all riding on the popularity of uber and the way it’s propping up the sharing economy.

How do you become a digital nomad? If you care to listen to the speakers of Cafe Numerique (Beligan for digital), you’ll find out how the world is getting smaller the way people from all over the world are finding each other, doing business and sharing ideas.

Last September 17, the Brooklyn Borough Hall was the setting for the International Day, the last of the four-day international Transatlantic Entrepreneur (TEP) conference which brought together investors, entrepreneurs, media and policy makers from the US, Asia and Europe.

Scott Heiferman is perhaps the most unassuming CEO and co-founder you’ll ever meet in this city. For someone who runs one of the city’s earliest and most successful startups, meetup.com, which was formed 13 years ago, he still considers his company a startup. His company, he says, is older than most startups. It’s older than Google Maps, older than Facebook,– heck, older than Friendster and yet, he pauses to think if he’s still a startup.

Twitter’s Adam Sharp, Head of News, Government and Elections and Niketa Patel, News Partnerships Manager were the speakers at Conversations, a series of open discussion held by NY Daily News Innovation Lab, at Microsoft last September 9. It was also a way for Twitter to drum up support for its upcoming Project Lightning, a curated feed of tweets.

When every tech meetup seems to be covered at night, count NY Tech Breakfast counts on the early risers to come to its monthly event, now held at Microsoft for the second month. Last September 8, NY Tech Breakfast featured PolicyGenius, Proscape, TableSwipes and LawGo.

Last September 2, General Assembly held a talk featuring three companies offering online coding courses, One Month, Thinkful and Hopscotch at its offices in the Flatiron District.

The product challenges at the Product Council last August 31 were the digital clinic app offered by Maven Clinic and the new permissions level to be offered by JustWorks starting September 1. The meetup was held at the Pivotal Labs.

What is the future of media? The question may resonate the most among journalists and other media practitioners. After all, it’s their livelihood at stake. The answer in a word may be video, especially the way the panelists talked about how it is going very far and coming in. Even GoPro is reportedly adding some kind of news coverage.

On the second day of the Yahoo Developer Conference last August 26 at the Marriott, breakout sessions were held, with user acquisition as a topic attended by OLC. The key takeways: Developers have a three-month grace period to get sticky; get the app store experience right; app install ads work, but it’s important to talk to your users through a variety of marketing channels.

Is one percent better than zero or none at all? We’re not talking about the affluent in the United States, but if the one-percent effort or initiative that big companies dedicate to social impact is sufficient—or if it’s just a compromise, a public relations move. If you’re keeping up with the tech scene these days, you won’t hear Mock Series A Term Sheet Negotiations too often. It may be your first time to hear it, as we did, so we went to Orrick’s Total Access last August 24 at CBS to find out how it would unravel for us.

Tech meetup groups have taken most of the summer off, but Codecademy took the quiet time to hold an HTML and CSS workshop of its newly released web projects last August 20 at its office in midtown Manhattan with the people behind it in attendance–Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski.

If you’ve seen a drone, most likely you’re thinking how hard can it be to fly one, right? Well, it was not so easy for Easy Aerial’s CEO Ivan Stamatovski. Stamatovoski was one of four other presenters at the NY Video Meetup last July 23 at the AOL offices. “I have been flying a drone for two years but still suck at it,” he admitted.

Some apps certainly function as if they were invisible like Dennis Mortensen’s x.ai. It’s an artificial intelligence powered personal assistant that schedules meetings for you. Mortensen was again going the rounds with Amy, the name of his A.I. personal assistant who happened to be in the same room as Larry, which is Raad Ahmed’s text-responder of a lawyer, a mix of automation and human beings. Larry is the text version of Ahmed’s LawTrades. It’s personalized legal help tailored to your business over text. Both presenters and other startups Alfred and Stefanshead were at The Product Hunt meetup last July 22 at Animoto’s offices.

How do you cover the media when you’re the media? For its fifth meetup, The Tech Press Meetup invited Jason Abbruzzese of Mashable, Shannon Bond of the Financial Times and Tom Kludt of CNN to shed light on this topic at the Arthur L. Carter School of Journalism at 20 Cooper Square.

Having covered the tech meetup scene for the past few years, it’s interesting how a meetup about “Getting your startup set up and funded” produces a new group of aspiring entrepreneurs, new to the tech scene and what it takes to build one. There’s certainly something for everyone in the fastest-growing tech city and that’s what Megan Hannum, venture partner at Comcast, co-founder at Fundedby, was at Spark Labs last July 15 for–to help newcomers get their feet wet in the startup scene.

More than 35 investors, panel talks, lightning pitches, everyone one-on-ones with VCs, a venture fair—it was a summer blockbuster of a tech meetup what NY Tech Breakfast pulled off last July 10 at Microsoft, near Times Square. What’s amazing is how it was all pulled off in one half day, from 8 am to noontime.

What do you think people would Google: How to survive a breakup or divorce lawyer? You could do both or just the former if you think it’ll be better SEO for your business. “The key is to be creative with your link-baits (to set you apart and own that search), said Kevin Lee, founder and CEO of Didit.com last July 11.

JJ Fliegelman is generous with his ideas and insights into his business, Campus Job, an online marketplace for college students to find jobs that he co-founded with ex-Googler Liz Wessel. Launched only last September, Campus Job has already signed up 2,300 colleges, 3,000 employers, 100,000 students and—music to every startup founder’s ears—funding to the tune of $9 million.

When you have everyone discussing about their design process, it makes for an engaging presentation. Last June 24, Design Driven’s meetup was the best so far the way each speaker presented a specific topic—and more importantly, because the presenters were generous with their thoughts and candid with their answers, especially Bradford Shellhammer, founder of Fab.com and most recently, founder of Bezar.

Joseph Essas of Open Table, the world’s leading provider of online restaurant reservations, opened the talk at the Data Driven last June 16 at Bloomberg’s offices. It was Data Driven’s last monthly meetup as it takes a well-deserved two-month summer break.

“If it doesn’t fit excel, it’s big data.” That was Gilad Lotan, chief data scientist at Betaworks, giving a digestible meaning of how big data is about volume and variety as much as it is about velocity and variety, which conveniently rounds up to the four essential Vs you need in big data. Lotan was speaking at Tech in Motion’s first ever Big Data meetup at the spacious office of Mediaocean, a leading software platform provider for the advertising world. He was with two other Big Data panelists Bruce Weed, program director of Big Data and Watson at IBM and Claudia Perlich, chief data scientist at Dstillery.

Asking if you really need to know the number of your eggs on your fridge is perhaps the best way to determine how much automation you need for your home. It determines if you need Canary, Hggns, Keen Home or Smart Things, the presenters at the IoT Central meetup last June 17 at R/GA Accelerator’s offices near Port Authority. How do you get attention amid all the noise out there? If you ask Ben Parr, he will tell you that you need 7 captivation triggers, which he expounds on his recently launched book, “Captivology.”

How do you get attention amid all the noise out there? If you ask Ben Parr, he will tell you that you need 7 captivation triggers, which he expounds on his recently launched book, “Captivology.” Asking if you really need to know the number of your eggs on your fridge is perhaps the best way to determine how much automation you need for your home. It determines if you need Canary, Hggns, Keen Home or Smart Things, the presenters at the IoT Central meetup last June 17 at R/GA Accelerator’s offices near Port Authority.

Last May 28, The Hatchery presented four startups–Moving Analytics, Crowds Line, Mobiquire, Centrallo and Revenue Mantra at the Microsoft Building. “The Hatchery: Are You Serious?” Meetup group has been holding startup presentations for eight years now, but sometimes this writer wonders if the question extends beyond the earnest question. After all, it’s not easy to launch a successful startup let alone present in front of VCs.

The Market New York Expo for small businesses last May 21 at the Javits Center featured several talks on branding, email marketing, digital sales and mobile marketing. What stood out for us were the talks on Search Engine Optimization by Ruben Quinones, NYU adjunct instructor and VP, Client Strategy at Path Interactive and Mobile Marketing by Warren Zenna, EVP & Managing Director at Mobext (Havas Media).

FlyLabs has wowed audiences at the NY Tech Meetup months back and at the NY Video Meetup last May 20, it again drew some ecstatic applause for its video-editing apps, Fly, Clips and its new one called Tempo, a quick way to alter video time speeds.

Last May 14, PandoMonthly hosted a one-on-one interview with Sheila Marcelo, CEO and co-founder of care.com who talked at length about her Filipino roots and how the influence of her “Tiger mom” and the discipline they inculcated in her formed a big part of her success now.

Minerva Tantoco, New York City’s first-ever chief technology officer (CTO), said she pretty much created every job she had at the StartupGrind meetup last May 7. Tantoco directs the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation, overseeing the development and implementation of a coordinated citywide strategy on technology and innovation and encouraging collaboration across agencies and with the wider New York City technology ecosystem. “We are a little startup inside city hall,” she said.

It’s good to see Scott Heiferman show up at NY Tech Meetup last May 5. Once a regular fixture of it many years ago, even as co-host, the Meetup founder has understandably been busy building his community of meetups, 30,000 for tech alone around the country. It was, as he has explained over time, a “9/11 baby.” He was at this particular meetup to announce the NY Tech Meetup Apple Watch app. The presenters of the night were Ananas, AptDeco, Amadeus, CornellTech, Epicure, OneDrop and X.ai with Wikitongues as hack of the night.

Adesoji Ojugbele of Google Android may have nailed it when asked about how to measure people’s attention span these days by using Instagram as an example: How long does it take you to post a photo on Instagram? The photo app is a good example, because as more people get used to its quick functionalities, the more people will not have patience for everything else that takes longer. The word “longer” here has come to mean longer than, say, 10 seconds; that could be an eternity for some people. Instagram is quick enough that anything else will be slow.

Last April 29, Uncubed held its meetup, “Hacks that saved my life” at Refinery 29 with the World Trade Center building gleaming behind it as early evening set in. This is not your typical show-and-tell meetup. It might as well be classified the hacked-and-tell meetup as each presenter talked about how a new app or site made their life easier, more fun and even useful in an unusual way.

Hardwired’s 19th meetup last April 22 might just have assembled the most interesting mix of startups so far —a drone that collects data fast, a pet activity and health monitor, a virtual reality content creator and—are you ready?—a new way of growing meat. Not your typical tech meetup in the city, folks.

More than 400 startups pitched to 10,000 attendees at the fourth-year of the largest annual tech fair called Tech Day. The event held last April 23 showcased startups in various industries such as education and e-commerce, design and deliveries, food and fashion, music and things mobile as well as that services catering to them like co-working spaces, immigration and recruitment companies.

Last April 22, a new venue emerged from the meetups gaining popular steam in springtime New York, just as the Tribeca Film Festival was rolling its week-long fest of indie and alternative films. It had the same makeup as the tech meetup talks, except it was held at the De Niro-propelled film center and headlined Designing Innovation.

Last April 14, the Data Driven Meetup featured How Liu, founder and CEO of Airtable; Scott Crunch, co-founder and CEO of Mark43; Bob Muglia, CEO of Snowflake and Emil Eifrem, founder and CEO of Neo Technologies at the Bloomberg offices.

Last April 8, AlleyNYC’s SquadUp featured three female-owned startups Bird and Stone , Plum Alley, Quarterlette and Dreamers//Doers with some VC guests giving tip on how to get funded. Made in New York, Bird and Stone sells its own jewelry line with 15 percent of sales funding micro loans and agri-business training in Kenya, where 75 percent of its people live in rural areas. So far, it has funded 8 women with $200 microloans and provided them with financial training, industry training and mentorship.

Dash, City Maps and even a 105-year-old startup named IBM stood out from the demonstrations hosted by NY Tech Meetup last April 7 at the NYU Skirball Theater. But Dash was clearly the night’s favorite the way it connects cars to smartphones and unlocks enhanced performance, cost savings and social driving.

Sometimes the title of a meetup ends up being more. You simply need a host who knows how to push the right buttons and no demos. Last April 1, the Disruptive Technologists group planned a forum called “Balancing a Cool Idea with Profitability” with host/moderator Bruce Bachenheimer, a Pace University professor. It turned out to be about a lot more, including a call for immigration reform to fill up the critical need for developers and other talented people in the United States.

How would you like your bike to guide your way with navigation lights? Hammerhead wants to lead the way with this idea. How would you like virtual reality as a productivity tool? IrisVR aspires to make that a seamless experience. These were just two of the presenters at Hardwired NYC’s meetup last March 24 at Quirky at 28th West and 11th Avenue. The others were Brilliant Bike, American Prison Data Systems and Wink.

Last March 23, the On-Demand Economy meetup featured Button, Managed by Q and Minibar at the Animoto offices in midtown Manhattan. Much of the tech world is trying to figure out deep linking, that is, making the mobile app ecosystem work more like the web.

Silicon Alley is extending all the way to Queens as the Digital NYC Five-Borough tour made its stop at the LA Guardia Community College last March 26. An initative of Mayor Bill de Blasio, digital.nyc is the city’s online hubs for all things tech and startups. Eric Gertler of NYCEDC (New York City Economic Development Council) said it is making sure all of its programs extend to everyone in New York as part of an initiative to reduce income inequality.

Take a creative bootcamp; get over full stack anxiety in programming

foodspotting

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–With all the coding bootcamps out there, should there be a creative bootcamp as well? As for programming, isn’t it causing you “full stack” anxiety, with one language and framework after another coming out like there’s no end to it? 

Last January 13, Design Driven took a different direction with its monthly meetup by having the speakers dig deeper into their design mindsets and processes. It helped to see Aaron Weyenberg, a UX and product designer at TED as one of the presenters as well. Others were Soraya Darabi of Zady and Foodspotting; Joey Califa, product design lead at Digital Ocean and Gary Chou, founder of Orbital who clearly gave a most illuminating presentation about creativity.

Chou’s Orbital, a home for developing and learning new ideas, talked about how constraints spur creativity, citing one project for students to raise $1,000 on a product they were working on, leveraging Kickstarter and using a metric to gauge their success.

Orbital offers an intensive 12-week course focused on helping you launch your project with the emphasis on putting your idea out of your head and into the world. Instructors and advisors provide feedback as you undergo exercises to increase your fluency in information and social networks. He could actually call it a “creativity bootcamp” and just attribute us for it.

Darabi who we last saw at a meetup presentation at Pivotal Labs talked about how a good design is about choices that get the appropriate reaction.

If you ask Weinberg how TED stands out in a saturated marketplace, he thinks slow news is important, even more than trends, explaining how “how we craft experience that keeps people interested.” It shows in the work TED does when most media prefer the race to coverage.

Califa addressed what could perhaps be in most people’s minds these days in terms of what they need to learn, calling it  “full stack anxiety.” Both a designer and coder, he asks what can you really do if you’re asked to do everything else?  

With so many tools and software and skills required now than ever before, he said it exacts a toll on our brains, leaving us no room to focus and become specialists. It was a humorous, Sisyphean pliant, clearly justified. His solution: Produce a list, narrow down choices and stick by the shorter list of skill sets you need.

However, almost sounding like Woody Allen, he prepares his audience to what an employer might demand these days: “I want someone with a specific skill who can do everything else.”

 

VR systems are now designed for mobility, sports fans and interactions with real world

NEW YORK–Virtual reality could not be any more real to the three founders and product director presenting at the Hardwired NYC meetup last January 12.

Jan Goetgeluk of Virtuix Omni recounts his three-year journey from investment banking to entrepreneurship as if he just endured the same struggles as Leonardo Di Caprio in “The Revenant.”

http://www.meetup.com/Hardwired-NYC/events/227497829/?rv=ea1&_af=event&_af_eid=227497829&https=off

After three years with a total fundraising haul of $8 million from a Kickstarter campaign, Shark Tank presentation and VC funding, Goegeluk of Virtuix Omni launched his first unit last month and demonstrated its hard work in this month’s CES Show in Las Vegas.

It’s an active VR or VR that allows you to move in a treadmill–like platform, allowing for 360-degree mobility. At least that won’t make you sedentary. There’s a harness to prevent from going off the rails, so to speak but you will be walking perhaps doing a light jog. You’ll need a fun controller to play the game and aim with your head.

Available for pre-order at $699, The Virtuix Omni is reportedly compatible with leading headsets and virtual reality content.

Next presenter was LiveLike,  a social sports broadcasting app for VR. Currently only being shown on Gear VR, it puts you in a luxury skybox with a giant window in front of you overlooking the stadium expected to launch this year.

Andre Lorenceau, CEO and founder, extols the social aspect of the app, as saying it’s about hanging out with friends, seeing replays, reading stats. Sports viewing is indeed a social experience, especially for fan communities. Users need to download the demo app and get their own VR suite to start interacting with each other.

LiveLike VR has worked with English soccer team Manchester City on a demonstration of its VR stadium, which plays on Samsung Gear VR. Having it on for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Google Cardboard VR is planned.

Drone racing, anyone? Launching this coming week, Drone Racing League is clearly molding itself as the Nascar of drones. Product director Ryan Gury is inviting the best pilots, which he emphasized more than once for safety as they compete against other drone owners. A race is scheduled on January 28 live on YouTube.

One has to sign up on its site to get updates about upcoming races. Meanwhile, drone pilots are encouraged to practice everyday to become the best pilots. For precaution, pilots are advised to wear goggles. A race video showed how engaging and immersive it can be.

Another presenter, Paracosm offers advanced three-dimensional reconstruction technologies that create digital models of physical spaces. When shared with machines, these models serve as blueprints which provide robots and applications a greater sense of awareness and understanding of the physical world. These can be valuable for robotics, video game development, special effects, indoor navigation applications, and for the improvement of both virtual and augmented reality experiences.

“Paracosm wants to take the digital world beyond screens and enable machines to understand the world as we do,” said Amir Rubin, founder and CEO of Paracosm.

Benefit Kitchen, Slash, Everbliss stand out at NY Tech Meetup

NEW YORK-A screening benefit tool for low-income families, a stock market crowd-rating platform, an instant coach or therapist hotline app and elegant toy apps for kids stood out among the nine presenters at the NY Tech Meetup last January 5 at the Skirball Theater.

http://www.meetup.com/ny-tech/events/226594137/

A winner at the NYC Big Apps for its civic tech initiative, Benefit Kitchen is a web and mobile app that helps connects working Americans with the $80-billion underutilized food, health and child care assistance industry.

The tool only needs an email address to answer and — for safety — doesn’t ask for a social security number. It answers how much you can get. It was described at the meetup as “the TurboTax for poverty.”

Slash wowed the audience with its supercharge keyboard that makes it easy to share anything. Available on iOS app, you can share links by tapping “/” to unlock Foursquare, GIFs, Spotify, Stickers, YouTube and many more without switching apps.

Everbliss got the crowd laughing when the presenters called it “basically Tinder but not self destructive. “ Doing a live demonstration can be a hit or miss, but it showed how in a few taps, it connects people to a qualified coach or therapist in a live video call anytime, anywhere. It just did that by having a coach respond to a call.

For its part, Tinybop, demonstrated how its apps, three voted the best of 2015 by the App Store (The Robot Factory, The Everything Machine and Simple Machines). It makes elegant educational apps for kids to dive deep into ideas and see how things work.

Vetr likens its app to the “wisdom of the smart crowd” the way it delivers stock market insights from people and the news sources they follow. If you join in “you can build your own homepage and watch list.”

Other presenters included GreatHorn, a cloud security platform that helps detect and prevent spear phishing and credential theft attacks in real time as well as The Segovia, which fights poverty through software tools.

LiquidTalent is an talent marketplace where you can connect with and hire vetted developers and designers within hours. Job seekers must have evidence of past projects and repositories in Github. It offers instant chat and calls to developers.

The meetup’s hack of the month was http://www.justnotsorry.com/ which works like spell check for email; only difference is that it checks your over-reliance of words like “just” and suggests options for you to provide a more authoritative voice in your emails.