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

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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.

Storytelling in app world needs both Agile and Waterfall

brooklyndesignBy Dennis Clemente

Does the Agile methodology work in storytelling? If you ask Brian Kelly of Small Planet Digital, a full service mobile agency with 57 apps in the Apple Store, he thinks storytelling needs both Agile and Waterfall.

Using TV series as a case study, Kelly argued how Agile alone is not enough. “A pilot is the MVP, the episode the sprint and the season the version. Nobody writes the season(s) upfront.”

Stressing this point, he said, “When Agile works, it works but we’re often hired to tell stories and create new narratives. And agile is not really good for telling these great emotional stories.”

Kelly was one of three presenters at the Brooklyn Mobile Designers meetup along with
Refinery 29’s UX director Eben Levy and senior UX designer Juan Sanchez as well as Luke Miller, formerly of Yahoo and whose energetic speaking voice, will do him well in his incarnation as a mentor at General Assemb.ly.

Both Levy and Sanchez talked about the lessons they’ve learned in mobile design. Some of the key learnings they shared:

• Never assume they’re going to use (a feature)
• Consistency of experience is important
• White space is part of our background
• The problems you face may not be the interactive but how you need to diversify interface points
• Work closely with data analysts, to (design) in an honest way
• The biggest thing for us is the monetization of mobile
• Challenge is how to balance advertising needs vs. user needs
• It uses an internal tool to test

Using a newsfeed as case study, Miller advised people to take these three points to heart: usability, pagination and universal app for mobile and tablets. He stresses how it’s wrong to use a product person (internal) as test user.

Miller talked about the tools he has used. At Yahoo Finance, Miller used Hype. For interaction, he now uses a new tool called Pixate. “(The latter is) almost object-oriented programming, not timeline based, and with no coding.”

He urges designers to use data collection. “It’s good for hypothesis.”

Scaling your apps and getting users: Think strategy

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By Dennis Clemente

At Dumbo, Brooklyn last September 16, Digital Dumbo divided its meetup into two segments. The first part focused on scaling apps with Nakul Patel, partner manager of Parse and Will Schenk, co-founder of HappyFunCorp. The second part tackled how to get users with Deepanjan De, client partner of Facebook and Al Harnisch, strategist of Prolific Interactive. That was the order of the presentation.

Now if they were switched around, Prolific Interactive could have been the first, because it talked about a very important facet of mobile app development that is not talked about—having a strategy beyond the two stages of conception: answering what is the problem and what is the solution.

To expound on this, Harnisch showed a case study of Threadless’ Type Tees. It looks like its functionality can forge a brand identity for the startups’ e-commerce app. The functionality is, of course, a direct result of the user experience design.

The next step was testing the app for users out there. This included promoting the site with different ads posted on Facebook. Testing meant showing how an ad copy or different color or even an entirely different creative could be presented to Facebook users and see how they interact with the e-commerce app.

Clearly operated like an ad agency with Eric Ries’ lean startup methodology in place, Prolific’s Harnisch said this beehive of activity was all part of its mobile app campaign…to boost installs and registrations for the app.

“The first lesson is to tell a story. The second lesson is to know the audience. The third lesson is to stay relevant (eg. keeping up on pop culture),” he said.

Even with just a change in color, Harnisch recognized how “small things make a big difference.” It turned out the agency’s most successful ad involved designs with cats, of course. Aside from successful installs, it had a viral effect

Results from its campaign resulted in 45% installs and 53.3% checkout.
But this is assuming you have a budget. Because when asked how much this could cost a startup, this blogger could not believe his ears: It was in the “hundreds of thousands.” It’s understandable, though, from its list of clients—all FORTUNE 500 companies.

Is there a solution for small startups? Is there a way to serve small startups without deep pockets? That is a good question that is not so easy to answer.

Since the topic is about scaling businesses, Facebook was also in the room.

De talked about Facebook for Business, giving us the numbers only the social network can only crank up– $170 million monthly active users and lots of users: one in every five minutes on a Facebook property. “We reach more of the right people. We drive action. All of the people who matter of you,” he said.

What’s the power of Facebook targeting if you need to get users? He put it as follows: having your core audience; sophisticated mobile targeting with unsurpassed accuracy; reaching the people you already know; getting your lookalike audience (finding more people like your best customers).

Among the tactics you can employ include promoting a special offer to drive people back to your mobile app.

If we need further convincing, De listing the following:
• Have an app ad or installs served in a news feed
• Drive discovery and action in the news feed
• Show a video in the news feed
• Have mobile app ads for installs

Getting users would mean managing your app for scale. This is where Parse comes in.

After joining Facebook last May 2013 and subsequently building over 260,000 apps, Patel describes what offers Parse under three pillars: Parse Core, Parse Push and Parse Analytics. With Parse Core, it reportedly handles everything you need to store data in the cloud such as store basic data types, including locations and photos, and query across them without spinning up a single server.

To increase engagement, its Push notifications are a direct channel to app users. With Parse Analytics, you view your app open rates and API request data via the Parse dashboard. It allows real-time viewing of analytics on API requests based on REST verbs, device type and Parse class.

“Our next step is to automate analytics,” Patel said.

Parse offers native SDKs for creating apps for all your devices. It is an API provider, your server team and database handler. “The sweet spot for Parse is the CRUD API, where you can manage your own data and have simple admin tools for operations,” said Patel. This CRUD API is for creating, reading and updating any type of resource that you want, without having to think about servers.

“Use Parse if you refer to your backend as a Content Management System. If you have extensive backend business, elaborate admin tool needs, or complicated business intelligence requirements,” he added. It reportedly added 140,000 developers this year.

The other presenter was HappyFunCorp. It’s a software engineering firm based in Brooklyn that builds for the web, app and all Internet-based products. Schenk talked about how it blends the best of product engineering, product design and strategy.

Audience favorite BoardRounds improves emergency patient follow-up

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By Dennis Clemente

The way startups are named these days, it’s hard to tell what they can really do for you. Can you tell what these eight startups do– BoardRounds, BotFactory, yourMD, Care + Wear, Blood, Sweat & Cheers, Modabox, Validat.io and Cosign–without looking them up online? Even more challenging, is two minutes sufficient time to get to know them and for VCs to give them feedback.

Last September 10, the Ultra Light Startup meetup was back at Microsoft to give us another interesting show-and-tell from startups and advice plus feedback from VCs, this time featuring panelists Weston Gaddy of Bain Capital Ventures, Taylor Greene, principal at Lerer Ventures, Andrew Mitchell, managing partner at Brand Foundry and Michal Rosenbloom, founding partner at Founder Collective.

BoardRounds is improving follow-up for emergency room patients; BotFactory’s Squink creates circuit boards in minutes; YourMD is the doctor in your pocket; Care + Wear customizes arm bands for a charity you want to support; Blood, Sweat & Cheers helps people find the most fun activities; Modabox is data-driven personal styling and shopping for women; Validat.io provides early stage testing for startups and Co-sign gives your monetary rewards when your social network “tag” followers buy the items.

The audience favorite was BoardRounds with Rosenbloom as the panelist of the night.

The feedback and advice from the VCs:

On BoardRounds: Get the largest hospital, the rest will follow

On BotFactory: On Kickstarter, make a video talking about its value proposition; don’t charge today to create value; monetize later

On yourMD: Make sure customers are being served the right information; bring data from health monitors and health wearables to the doctors

On Care + Wear: Demand may come from the kid market; consider crowdfunding as huge round may not be necessary; get some licenses

On Blood, Sweat & Cheers: Track engagements; make good use of 250,000+ subscribers

On Modabox: Make it aspirational, humanize it

On Validat.io: Build a side consumer product

On Co-sign: Find tastemakers, as Pinterest is the 1,000-poudn gorilla and monetary reward has not yet worked in social media tagging

What do wearables have in common with the branding world?

digitaldumbo

By Dennis Clemente

At the Digital Dumbo meetup at the Interbrand office last September 4, the two sets of panels, totaling 8 experts from various fields, addressed the internet of things (IoTs), including wearables, in terms of what they have in common with the branding world.

“IoTs are a branding problem,” one speaker from Interbrand said. The problem stems from the fact that most wearables made these days are based on an assumption that they can find users to define it for them.

The panelists shared the following insights:

• Technology will need to know how to talk to each other before it makes sense for people to use (read: wear) them (and brand them).
• More people will use it if they know what it can do for them and how it applies to their needs
• Everybody is asking the wrong questions. Wearables are not utilitarian
• People will use it if they know what they want
• Esthetic and utility aspects of it need to be worked out
• What is appropriate? Why are you wearing Google Glass? Are you recording me? Are you documenting me?
• (Wearables) have a kind of weirdness (that should) taper off and become more useful
• Fitbit has a culture around it because of fitness people. They’re buying into the culture of fitness
• We (consumers) don’t know what we want, but we want to be happy

It was admittedly a challenging discussion. However, Robert Genovese, VP Integrated Marketing of Kenneth Cole, may have stumbled on something very important: analog or the power of the less intrusive experience: auditory.

Who would believe analog’s relevance in this day and age? Genovese’s two kids did who, he said, listened to a baseball game on radio with him and asked so many questions about it. Watching how kids tinker with the future of things may just offer some surprises. Has anyone thought of that?

Genovese probed further, “If I i can have a human experience (using it). If we can have a better relationship (because of it)…” He mentioned “Her” the movie and why its technology there worked well–it was like us, just better. People have honed in on the visual aspect of the IoTs when the auditory experience may be just as promising.

Wearables, he said, will work if it doesn’t end up in someone’s drawer.

Alex Lirtsman, co-founder & chief strategist of Ready Set Rocket, moderated the first panel consisting of Liesje Hodgson, senior consultant, Innovation of Interbrand as well as Nick Panama, co-founder of Cantora, a venture studio focused on building technologies and entertainment experiences that reshape the relationship between audiences and performers.

The two other panelists were Colin Vernon, director of Cloud & Platform at Little Bits. Most recently, as LittleBits’ cloud platform lead, he spearheaded LittleBits’ newly announced cloudBit, which allows anyone to turn any object into an internet-connected smart device – no soldering, wiring or programming required. The other speaker was Jun Shimada, CEO & founder of ThinkEco, an energy efficiency startup based in NYC that offers its patented, internet-of-things platform to utilities.

The second group of panelists was moderated by Forest Young, creative director of Interbrand. His panel consisted of Genovese. Genovese is responsible for leading the integrated marketing and communications practice at Kenneth Cole Productions. The other panelists were Gareth Price, technical director of Ready Set Rocket and Richard Talens, co-founder of Fitocracy & Adviser at Pavlok.

The host, Digital DUMBO, produces live events, conferences, content, and custom experiences that connect companies and brands with our community of digital tastemakers, talent, and executives.

Augmented reality app Blippar wows NY tech audience

By Dennis Clemente

Blippar sprinkled fairy dust to the mesmerized crowd of the NY Tech Meetup last July 1 at Skirball Theater. Taking the stage as the first of eight presenters, Alana Kalin, account executive of Blippar, showed her smartphone in one hand, pointed to Heinz Ketchup on the other hand as if she were Mary Poppins, and the next thing people saw was their jaw dropping.

On the giant screen, the audience, estimated at 400, marveled at how the Heinz label came alive. Augmented reality has trumped advertising yet again.

Blippar has been in the news recently. Funded by giant mobile chip set maker Qualcomm in its early stage, the startup has certainly grown enough to be able to purchase augmented reality pioneer Layar last month.

The audience was clearly satisfied with Blippar’s presentation, but the NY Tech Meetup could not be bothered with details, so it continued with the other startups–7 remaining plus one featured hack.

72Lux’s Shoppable.com is just the e-commerce site suited for both companies and consumers. If you’re a publisher, you can sell products directly from your site. If you’re a shopper, you don’t need to go to another site, it’s there where you found it.

Using Google Maps Business View, Vosmap is another startup. It offers people a virtual experience of establishments. People see the layout, décor and interior of establishments with HTML snippets of Map APIs. Businesses can reportedly link to these images from their own business website and social networking pages.

How do they create the virtual world? “We take the images of the stores. The magic happens after we take the shots,” Maureen Erokwu said. But how frequently can they update the experience?

Almost Tinder-like in its approach is Knozen. It’s all about rating personalities. When asked about the psychology of the process, the speakers dropped Carl Jung’s name. “There is no wrong answer.”

Next presenter was Jack Levine of Electric Objects, a company building the first computer made specifically for art. He wants the creative and expressive to come out of the internet and live in the physical world.

Having presented at the NY Tech Meetup, the second go-round for Amicus Post is all about how its startup offers real postcard sending once you finish writing it online. A neat feature allows you to add the addresses of your recipient. For friends on social networks without addresses, they can get you the address. That elicited some feigned howls of protest. They have purported partnerships.

If you want to see more of earth than what you see on Google, check out satellite.org, the featured Hack of the Month was satellite.org.

There were other startups FieldLens which offers mobile field management for the construction industry, and Syncmotion which connects the physical and digital worlds.

Nate Westheimer, the host and president of NY Tech Meetup, was this time also a presenter. He is part of Picturelife, what he calls a smart home for your photos on the cloud. It pulls in photos from Facebook and Instagram, too.

“We think pictures need an awesome place to live,” he said. Well, the search feature is awesome, for a start.

Startup challenge: Present in 2 minutes, get feedback from VCs

By Dennis Clemente

The growing number of startups in this city must be overwhelming tech meetups. Last June 12 at the Microsoft Building in Times Square, Ultra Light Startups kept its regular programming of eight startups but with more VCs on the table: Jeff Finkle. co-chairman at ARC Angel Fund; Jerry Hao, associate at NYU Innovation Venture Fund; William Reinisch, venture partner at Paladin Capital Group and Caitlin Strandberg, associate at Flybridge Capital Partners.

The invited panel of investors listened to the two-minute presentation of startups and in between, provided them the necessary feedback for possible venture funding. The presenters were a mixed bag.

Wise Banyan claims to be the world’s first free wealth manager. “We’re reducing barriers to investing,” said founder Herbert Moore who said the startup is gaining “incredible traction with millennials.” This report alone could have been elaborated, but because of time limitation, the presentation moved on.

The Loadown is called a real-time marketing optimization platform for apps with clients like PBS and Random House.

The VCs’ advice to David Renard of The Loadown: “Think how pricing will affect profitability and get more data. Plan how to get $100 million in revenue in 5 years.” It sounded like the startup is on the right track, but sometimes it’s really just about the VCs trying to get more data and insights from the startup.

DoRevolution is supposed to be an actionable platform for online advertising based on Watson’s AI engine, but sometimes it’s hard to tell what the company is about when the presenter is in a squirrel mask. Samir Patel removed it eventually, but the distracting mask confused a VC: “What do you do?”

Aarting’s Todd Wahnish describes his startup this way: “It’s a crowdfunding platform that makes it easy for visual artists to create and sell custom products. “We have a product the hustles itself.”

For artists, it’s a way to test the waters and see if there is demand for your work. “We don’t have to make anything. It’s all pre-order. We have no inventory or warehouse,” said Wahnish who has come a long way from “being homeless.”

Echovate reportedly provides fact-based hiring insights for the modern small business. Think FICO score. What is its value? Turnovers can be costly. Matthew Gough said companies should think of reduced turnover.

Chatwala is a two-way, face-to-face ongoing video conversation with your friends and family. It’s been nearly a year since we last saw Chatwala at the AOL building, but Tej Bhatia clearly has to be more aggressive these days when, according to one VC, “Snapchat is rolling something similar.”

What is it? It’s making conversation real-time even if it’s not real-time. Or how you can come back to the great-looking video interface and resume a previous conversation, as if it’s in real-time.

A VC gave some cautionary advice: “Raising 1 million to figure out your startup may not be the way to do it.” That commend would have been normal hearing It from Reinisch, the Hatchery regular, but the VC went out of character, telling Bhatia to “forget the noise.” Reinisch stressed how important it was for Chatwala to hone in on the technology it wants to use. Strandberg said Chatwala may want to study its users.

Binary Event Network with its Pivit is a marketplace that captures, rewards and reports changing public opinion about real-world events in real-time.

Then there’s the “real” software among all the other presenters, AfreSHeet, which presented disposable bedsheets which the young founder Maxwell Cohen thinks would be perfect in dorms—the college market.

“Martha Stewart vouched for this,” said Cohen whose co-founder is his mother.
Strandberg leaned in saying the market is really hot, especially when people are talking about protecting the environment.

Mark Caron of bMobilized and Bill Gallagher hosted the show.

Adways offers interactive CTA overlays in video platform

By Dennis Clemente

Last May 15, the NY Video Meetup played host to startup presenters with an international pedigree—Adways from France and Fluendo from Spain. Even the first presenter, Vyer Films, said the name Vyer in Norwegian means having a clear perspective of the future. But they’re Americans like the remaining two presenters—Digiriot and the husband-and-wife tandem of Feedbac. It’s not common to find a married couple presenting their own co-founded startup but we wish there were more of them.

The affable host Steven Rosenbaum opened the night talking about and showing a short clip from his film, 7 Years At Ground Zero. It was a long day for Rosenbaum who came from the 9/11 Memorial Museum launch early that morning. He was given access to document the building and curation of the museum. He kidded about needing an editor to trim over 700 hours of footage to 90 minutes. Email him if he is serious about it.

Vyer Films works like Mubi and Fandor. If you like watching independent and foreign films before they arrive in the U.S., they have films streaming on their site. It’s $20 a month for 2 films a month. “Vyer Films is a new film curation service, or the meaningful-experience-through-film business,” said K.C. McLeod, founder and CEO.

For the curation part, the movies are categorized based on your mood. They also have a curator’s statement for each film and in some cases, even interviews with filmmakers. The startup has four staff, including Meredith Wade, co-founder and CMO.

Can you create a cloud-based interactive video in less than five minutes? It really depends. If you have the video and you just need interactive overlays, it’s possible.

Adways offers videos, photos, shopping cart and social media tools to help you craft call-to-action messages from the videos.

The tool uses a drag-and-drop functionality in HTML 5 and offers interactive overlays such as videos, photos, frames, shopping cart and social media tools.

Adways’ Fabrice Jaeger said he worked at NBC before, went back to France and then came back to go full-time on his video creation tool with Zeb Holt, VP of Technology. It was hands down the night’s crowd-pleaser.

Feedbac was interesting from the perspective of how a married couple, sharing the same animating skills, collaborated on a collaboration tool—one that allows anyone to give real-time visual feedback on videos.

“With the tool, you can bring your team to the cloud to watch, make frame-by-frame notes, notate and assign tasks on your video projects,” said Dara King-Fequiere who came with hubby Chris Fequiere.

From Barcelona, Fluendo is a company that enables multimedia and video on a wide variety of devices and operating systems. It just launched a new product suite called OnePlay for corporate users and resellers/OEMs. Test how the subtitles work.

Last presenter was Jeff Koenig of Digiriot, which currently shows an original sci-fi video series but who wants to give more content creators out there better exposure and success for their programs via its platform.

The NY Video meetup changes venues every now and then. It was at Columbia University at one time, at the Made in NY Media Center in Dumbo, Brooklyn and at AOL near NYU. The meetup was co-hosted by Bianca Francis.

How ripe are you for Seed A investment—and other VC insights

By Dennis Clemente

What makes a startup ripe for Seed A investment? There’s the most obvious answer: “You have demonstrable revenue growth.” There’s the hopeful response: “You’re selling more metrics and data than just sizzle.” And the standard throwaway response: “…If you’ve become a revenue-focused brand.” You’ll do better with the first reaction; keep your hopes up for the second; plan long for the third.”

Last May 13, Rubicon Venture Capital’s Joshua Siegel hosted a night of VC talk and startup demonstrations at Orrick at CBS building. For the first part of the night, Siegel brought in the venture capitalists to answer his prepared questions like the one above. The VCs were Marc Michel of Metamorphic Ventures; Will Peng of Red Swan Ventures; Brad Svrluga of High Peaks Venture Partners; Nikhil Kalghatgi of Vast Ventures and Matt Gorin of Contour Venture Partners.

Elaborating on their responses regarding Seed A investment, the VCs put importance to having customer acquisition metrics and a repeatable sales process. “If you’re past the idea of product/market fit thinking, then you’re ready,” Michel said.

Still, at least two VCs said it has become harder to pinpoint what Seed A means nowadays. “The nomenclature has changed. What was an A can now be B.”

Peng said strong engagement with a group of people is key, but he also attempted to simplify it, “Early stage is, ‘Do people want it’ (your startup)? Series A is, ‘Do a lot of people want it’?”

What areas or sectors are ripe for Series A funding? VCs may not always give you a straight answer, because even without them saying it, the tech space is always evolving, if not converging with some other service or technology. Michel considered marketplaces, the shared economy, even mentioning Uber as a marketplace, but to avoid pigeonholing himself, he said, “Every firm will have its own idiosyncrasies.”

Really now, why can’t they say more? Peng doesn’t want to influence mindsets, “We don’t want you to change your business model based on trends, because we look for companies that come from a genuine place. If you are building something you are passionate about and you have the conviction to make it work, then we’ll take a look at it.” For a few seconds, he buckled and said food, but stopped short of elaborating. If he is talking about Soylent, look into it if you haven’t heard about it.

Asked if they work with other investors, Michel said, “We syndicate everything we do. We look for good partners and share financial risk, because most companies take time to develop.”
VCs have the resources to add value to your startup where angel investors can only provide expertise. Kalghatgi, however, is not one to share a startup with another investor if it means he’ll be hampered by what his firm can offer.

The difference between East Coast and West Coast investors is a topic not brought too often in public, but Siegel tried to say who would respond. Without going into detail, he said, “We hear a lot of crazy stuff in San Francisco, (how) it’s easy to get money.”

Svrluga said, “It’s 10 times bigger (there). There are also better entrepreneurs out there.”
In New York as opposed to Silicon Valley, there was also a comment about how good VCs see through the hype—and fakery. They ask about hitting milestones that attract investors. They want the right team, the right technology, the right differentiation.

Peng added how he doesn’t like you buying traffic, because it’s fake growth, akin to what we’ve learned with the Emperor with No Clothes fable. “It you stop buying traffic, you will (see) that you don’t have anything. Don’t go this road of lies.”

A question that pops up every now and then is how to get noticed by VCs. The response has always been the same: (face-to-face) networking, but Svrluga went a step further. True to how technology has improved networking, he said Linkedin is the greatest referral tool. “If you can’t figure out Linkedin, then you won’t be able to get the audience.”

Naiveté permeates entrepreneur novices, according to Svrluga. He suggested you come to him with a warm lead; for Gorin, a strong reference; for Kalghatgi, a person who knows you really well and can give you an accurate portrayal.

It’s true what they say. Mondays are no-nos for VCs. Michel laid out his schedule on the table: “I have 30-meeting slots dedicated to meeting new companies. But he is also quick to say how it’s physically impossible to meet everyone. Mondays are a no-no. It’s all a day of meetings.”

After the VCs’ talk, the startup demonstrations followed. The presenters were Jeremy Kagan of Pricing Engine; Michael Ibrahim of Whisk, an Uber competitor; co-founders Merritt Baer and Brian Fenty of TodayTix; Peter Stebe of nextSociety, and Doug Chambers of Field Lens.

For those starting out in New York, nextSociety’s Stebe tells us how networking with the right people proved crucial in his life away from his home, Germany. Now he’s monetizing it with nextSociety, an iOS networking app using a relevance score, a smart indicator that tells you how well a connection aligns with your professional interests.

Every startup has an interesting back story. For Stebe, who is from Germany, it was always how he dreamed of living in New York. Now he has a startup here.

Field Lens’ Chambers was succinct and to the point in his short presentation. In his construction work app, he talked about how he is answering the problem of communication breakdowns typical in construction work. He has a solid team, another important ingredient in a startup.

Having been funded, he knows the drill. Determining a problem and how you can solve it is crucial to your success and VC funding.

Editorial is connected to programming nowadays

By Dennis Clemente

AppNexus meetup on business development and digital marketing
AppNexus meetup on business developmemt and digital marketing

“Everything we do in editorial is connected to programming.”

That’s Patrick Yee of Refinery 29 confirming how editorial roles have evolved through the years as online publishing keeps changing face, too. “Editorial now has equal partnership with product and technology.”

Editors have taken on many roles beyond editing and closing pages indeed.
Yee said editors today get SEO training, find out what are the implications of posting on Twitter, oversees how a photo on Facebook will look like and makes sure to know what articles are trending online.

Yee was at the AppNexus offices on 23rd St near Flatiron last April 29 talking about business development and digital marketing with the other speakers: Rich Kennedy of Business Insider and Kia Hsing of IAC. Gawker’s Erin Pettigrew moderated the talk with Alex Guttler, partnerships manager at AppNexus, serving as host.

How is programming connected with editorial? Just take a look at the immense popularity of BuzzFeed. “They (quizzes) get 5 to 10 million uniques a day,” Yee claimed.

With talk of digital marketing, Google was bound to come up. “The biggest traffic in media was Google but not anymore,” Yee said, pointing out how lots of disruption will continue to go on and you just have to embrace agility.

Yee said the size of the market of media is going to grow ten-fold. “We may even see media companies with valuation of $300 million to $10 billion.”

But going back to editorial has journalistic integrity been compromised by the race to get more page views? A tough one to answer because ignoring page views can also spell doom for online publishers and content creators.

Now it’s always about the packaging vis-a-vis the salacious headline.

But that’s not the only editorial challenge these days. “(It’s about) the person who spent 10 minutes who will be more interesting (for the publisher) than someone who spent only a few minutes,” Yee said.

It’s all about the time you spend on a site these days. It makes perfect sense, because we have become so easily distracted. Let me say this: Our attention span will be the most elusive commodity. You can quote me on that.