Indiegogo, Alphaworks, TDBank flex meaning of fundraising

Indiegogo's Jerry Needel
Indiegogo’s Jerry Needel

By Dennis Clemente

DUMBO, Brooklyn is far from all the tech meetups happening in New York City, but it makes sense to hold an event here. After all, it’s where many startups hold office.

This makes perfect sense for Digital DUMBO, which produces live events, conferences, content and custom experiences, like it did last June 26 when it hosted a meetup featuring Alphaworks, Indiegogo and even TDBank. Crowdfunding meets Bank—an unusual partnership but one that should make sense. Every startup needs funding no matter where it’s coming from, even from a bank like TDBank.

So other than angel investors and VCs, startups have more choices. Crowdfunding, for instance, is gaining immense popularity, especially those who have tech hardware in or wearable in mind. Crowdfunding sites are magnets for any physical device, because it’s easier for people to invest in something they can physically grasp, literally.

The Pebble Watch’s success was the turning point. Now, people easily identify with physical devices pitched on a crowdfunding site like Indiegogo. Jerry Needel, Head of Growth at Indiegogo, told us the story of how the founder of Bug a Salt, a gun-like fly swatter, invested 300,000 of his own money and maxed out on his credit cards with almost no hope of recouping his investment until he posted his idea on Indiegogo and people responded in kind (read: money).

Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock build a door.”

Even when poked at, one can’t discount how Bug a Salt became a huge success. It’s on Amazon for $39.95.

So ask yourself if you really need the money, because Indiegogo thinks you can bring out an idea much sooner with them. Needel said you need to test your market,
find out your market validation, build buzz, capture data and raise capital.

“Crowdfunding is a proving ground for startups,” he said as he talked about the success stories in Indiegogo like Misfit Shine which raised $846,000 or Knix, which raised $60,000 in 30 days – success is how much money you need to raise.

But what if you want to be a co-owner of a startup? You can do that with Alphaworks.

Nick Barr, VP Product of Alphaworks, said the company’s mission is to empower passionate communities to become owners in the companies they love. Founded by Betaworks, it represents a new kind of ownership, a world in which companies are likely to be owned by a community of people

Alphaworks, founded by Betaworks, represents a new kind of ownership – a world in which companies are as likely to be owned by a community of people as they are by just a few individuals. Our thesis is that over time, this new kind of community owned business will lead to more profitable and lasting organizations.

If you want to invest, Barr recommends Giphy, See me and Quibb.

It was easy to tell who came from TDBank last Thursday. Brandon Williams of TDBank’s Head of US Wealth, even kidded about it. “We’re the ones in suits.”

To express his commitment to startups, he said, “We want to be partners with you. No company is too small,” he said.

If you’re interested in learning more about TD Bank and how they can help you or your company, contact Peter Izzo, VP Commerical Banking, at (212) 918-4186 or Tarryn Kone, TD Private Client Group, at (212) 897 2658, or visit

Digital DUMBO started in 2009 as a social gathering for innovative companies in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, a six-block area with over 100 media and technology companies. If you’re In the neighborhood, there’s no excuse if you don’t what it means. It’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

How to succeed as a startup

At Tech In Motion
At Tech In Motion

By Dennis Clemente

How would you like to know what it takes to succeed as a startup? That question is surely in the minds of everyone planning a startup or even those who are years, even nearly a decade, into their startup.

One of the Twitter founders once said that timing, perseverance and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success. Today, Twitter is still trying to find a way to monetize its business. It’s really that hard.

But nobody in recent memory has said it with all honesty than the guest panel at Tech in Motion last June 18. The honesty part is about how they told their own stories of failure staring back at them when they first started 10 to 15 years ago.

The intrepid panel consisted of Andrew Yang, founder of Venture for America; Nihal Mehta, founder of Local Response & general partner at Eniac Ventures; Brett Martin, entrepreneur, building Switch, a co-founder of Sonar Media; Anna Khan, venture capitalist at Bessemer Venture Partners. Kunal Mehta, author of The Disruptors, moderated the talk.

It’s a great panel and if nobody noticed a diverse one that ultimately led to what you often don’t hear in a tech meetup– a multicultural perspective on success. Nihal is proud of his Indian American heritage but he reveals how it’s also a culture where failure is not taken lightly.

If everybody is wondering why Indians or Indian Americans are driven and ambitious, it’s also because the pressure to succeed is very high in this ethnic group. As Nihal was brought up to think, you either you become a doctor or engineer, as these professions reward you with stability.

Right after college, Nihal didn’t do this, as jumped into the world of startups and failed miserably. He was 22 when he filed for bankruptcy. He has had five startups since then before he turned to venture capital.

What does it take to succeed? For him, it’s a four-letter word that he wants every startup to own: grit.

Before the crash in 2001, Nihal said people invested in your idea in a napkin. In 1999, he claimed having the Elon Musk sign a check on the spot. Today, 93 percent of the time you can be declined.

The panel oscillated between success and failure in their talk, but they agreed with each other on what it takes to succeed. Right after Nihal said “grit,” one after the other pitched in. Khan said “passion and visionary operators”; Martin said “resilience” and Yang said “persistent adaptability.”

But rather than serving platitudes, the panel revealed more of themselves.

Elaborating, Yang said, “You need to have a thirst for solving a problem and this problem consumes (you).It’s going to shape to a different person: closer to the person you want to become.”

Failure is part of it all. Giving us more complex layers of his views, he added: “What you don’t know is actually your friend or you wouldn’t be doing what you need to do.”

Like Nihal, Yang has been in the startup world for over a decade. He left a corporate law firm for a startup. Like Nihal, he also admitted to failing big time. He can be blasé about it now, but he experienced the pits of living without money. “I would even take my dates to Subway.”
Martin had a longer and also honest response on this one. He thinks you need resilience more than persistence.

In his startup years ago, he remembers “racking up $60,000 credit card bills” and trying to get “$11,000 in 3 days”. Somehow he got the money, lost it again, and got it when he gained traction.

What he learned from the experience can give all startups some hope. After his big failure, he decompressed at the beach. “Then the next thing I know, I had five job offers with startups.”
What’s the lesson here? “If you stay in the same job and the world has changed, what are you going to do?”

If you failed as a startup, that’s a badge of honor. It means you know why you failed and startups will want you for the wisdom and experience you can bring to the table.

All of them have one advice to give for those preparing to launch their startups: Try to find a team to apprentice or join to learn what it takes to be a startup, as it also helps you gain the confidence you will need. Because if you don’t have the confidence, then how can you expect investors to have confidence in you?

“Be an apprentice for a startup for 2 years,” Yang said.

As a woman, Khan said it’s important for women not just to have confidence but to know how to “talk up” an investor. From Pakistan, Khan said that there are few women in tech because it’s populated by men.

Nihal agreed, saying it’s because men know only other men, like how referrals go. He said crucial to have women in the tech world, whether they’re in a startup or they’re a VC. He cited how one instance when a young girl produced an app that solves the queue problem in the women’s restroom. “A guy will not be able to think of that.”

The coup de grace of the night was when Martin answered a question from the audience regarding the question of bootstrapping or getting funding. He said there’s something patently wrong about approaching a VC: “93 percent of you will be rejected. A VC can tell you how another startup is going to take your market share.”

But why are people talking about getting funding from VCs all the time. Martin added, “They (VCs) have so much mindshare (read: exposure out there). They’re everywhere, because their main job is to be out there.”

The rest of the panel chimed in, saying bootstrapping your way is ok, but if you need to scale your startup, at least you know where to go. But if you need an angel investor instead, Yang said you’ll need to rely on your network.
The meetup was sponsored by Microsoft.

Strategies for your patent, trademark, copyright and domain names

Boag with his deck
Boag with his deck

By Dennis Clemente

Last May 14, Andrew Wong’s New York Entrepreneurs Business Network hosted a special talk on how to strategize for your patent, trademark and copyright as well as the siginificance of the new domain names in Battery Park, downtown Manhattan.

David Boag presented “The Big Three”: patents, trademarks and copyrights. He runs boutique intellectual property law practice that focuses on trademark, copyright and technology law.
Just to give a brief description of one and the other, patent (terms is 20 years from filing; use upon issuance) is the right to exclude others from making, using, selling or importing the invention, described in the patent’s claims.

Trademark (indefinite, use in commerce) is a symbol that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Copyright (life of the author +70s, fixation) is the exclusive right of an author to exploit a work, including making copies, publicly performing the work, and preparing derivative works.

Boag explained The Big Three. For patents, he said you need to identify patent-worthy inventions. The important thing, he said, is for you to aim at not just any patent, but a valuable one. Next thing you can do is file early and be the first to file, and file continuations and adapt. For trademarks, confirm availability early and make sure to be distinctive, as you take care of it, use it correctly and protect it.

What’s the difference between that TM and r symbols? The one with the r symbol is actually registered. For copyrights, register important materials, the source code of the website, for instance; and have registration requirement for infringement claim.

What are some examples of design patents? It can be a shoe design, smartphone, GUI or graphical user interface.

Other things to keep in mind:

• Use your trademarks properly and consistently; non-use or generis use can be deadly
• For patents, file within one year of your first public disclosure; many foreign jurisdictions require “absolute novelty”
• By default an employee owns work done within the scope of employment; use employment agreements
• Consulting is different from employer-employee agreements
• Avoid infringement of the right of others; confirm FTO (freedom-to-operate) before starting
• Fair use is not always fair. Limited use for commentary, criticism, parody (look at purpose, amount nature and impact)

Breaking down the costs for each, patents will set you back $5,000 to $10,000 up; trademark about $1,000; and copyright, about $300.

Boag said the problem will find you if you don’t do it right. In 2013, there were a total of 302,948 patent issues; 40,000 software patents and 4,701 patent infringement suits, 62 percent bought by NPEs. How much does a wrongdoing cost? How does $29 billion in direct costs and litigation costs sound to you?

Boag said seeking patents is expensive and may not be worth it.. “It’s a judgment call.” Companies use it to protect early market share. Trademarks, on the other hand, protect your identity and branding. It has national rights and puts others on notice, but requires care and feeding.

The night’s other speakers were David Mitnick and Howard Greenstein of DomainSkate, an Internet company that focuses on online brand protection. The two talked about the new Top Level Domain Names that you can use for your startup or as investment as well as issues on cybersquatting and mirror sites.

Mitnick, CEO, said he created Domainskate when he saw the potential in the expansion of the global Top Level Domain space. He also shared his expertise in the area of Domain Law. Greenstein teaches social media in the Masters Program at the Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising at NYU SCPS. He is currently contributing editor for Inc. Magazine, writing the weekly Startup Toolkit.

The Big Three
The Big Three

How to protect your startup’s intellectual property

By Dennis Clemente

You often hear about startup founders saying there’s no way to protect yourself, but what if there was some kind of intellectual property protection you have not explored fully, because you’re used to hearing there is no such thing as protection online. What If you just didn’t bother to ask until it was too late and someone already tweaked your idea and co-opted it?

Last March 20, the Entrepreneur & Small Business Forum hosted a meetup billed “Protect Your Startup’s Intellectual Property” with guest speakers Calvin Chu, managing director of R/GA Accelerator, John Hempill of Sheppard Mullin who talked about copyright and trademark design and Gary Walpert of Byrne Poh LLP who talked about design patents at the Lee Hecht Harrison offices at Met Life at Grand Central Terminal.

In most legal talk about protection, many on the receiving end always find themselves hearing general assumptions, for the reason that the law is specific to one case over another, but Chu pointed out that keeping these three things in mind—copyright, design patents, trademark design—can go a very long way. He calls it “one very good combo.”

For copyright, Chu said you are protected immediately when you’ve expressed design in tangible form (the way Apple has obsessively done so); the advantage here is immediate protection. How does it stack up? It doesn’t protect against independent reverse engineering. And when it comes to raising the infringement issue in this matter—you’ll need to prove that the offender had access and substantial similarity.

With regard to design patents, protection begins when it’s issued. The advantage you get is that it prohibits others to use your design regardless of how they arrived at their own design. Even better, it protects you against independent reverse engineering. How does the infringement work? If the design of the article is similar, you have a case.

As for trademark design, protection begins when it’s used in commerce—and it’s an immediate protection against use of your design as a trademark. You can even chase someone’s trademark if it’s likely to cause confusion (Toys R Us against Adults R US, for instance), to protect yourself.

Having that “combo” helps you protect yourself. Everything else is relative. There’s no one-size fits-all scenario.

Child welfare management system you can use online

By Dennis Clemente

3 goals of Case Commons: Changing lives above all, helping the helpers and measuring results

NEW YORK–Last September 5, the Product Group meetup moderated by Jeremy Horn hosted a talk featuring Patrick Colgan, product manager of Case Commons, a non-profit software development company aimed at transforming public sector human services through user-centered design and technology.

Case Commons offers a product called Casebook, a collaborative, family-centered case management system for child welfare, which enables workers serving the most vulnerable families and children to be more effective and efficient via Web-based software tools.

“We currently handle all child welfare management for the state of Indiana, and have plans to expand to other states in 2014,” he said at the Product Group held at the Viacom building in Times Square.

Case Commons was founded by and continues to be supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation,  the leading philanthropy dedicated solely to disadvantaged children and families in America.

Colgan said the company has three goals: Changing lives above all, helping the helpers and measuring results.

Case Commons, Inc. is also helping to drive a broader conversation about how to improve technology innovation in government, ensuring that government technology makes lives better for people every day.

The organization believes America’s future depends on government adopting a forward-leaning approach to information technology. The technology gap between government and the rest of society is growing.

Colgan echoes what Case Commons stands for about how they can help government reach Americans more directly; reduce waste; throw open the doors to make government more transparent; and transform the public sector from a follower into a technology innovation leader.

“Analytics and research are important to us. We have set out to apply leading-edge technologies, such as predictive modeling, factor analysis and text mining, to equip caseworkers to make sense of their data and, in turn, help agency managers, researchers and policy makers understand what works and why.

“We continuously analyze Casebook data to explore patterns and prove statistical hypotheses. We collaborate with researchers from leading universities and other policy research organizations to understand what socio-economic factors are mostly responsible for child abuse and neglect.

“We aspire to share our findings with the broader human services community, not only in published papers and conference presentations, but also directly through Casebook features that support day-to-day decision-making. In taking these steps, we can help make policy and practice based on evidence,” he said.

Colgan says Casebook Analytics was built not around units of work, such as cases, but rather around persons, relationships and groups, such as families and households. This person-centric design enables users to follow individuals and families over time.

This means you may not need to repeat yourself like a broken record when you need someone to review your case.

Aspiring NY mayors to tech companies: Do more for city, middle class


By Dennis Clemente

How would you like New York to be Monaco where only the richest of the rich can afford it? Trust our politicians to have a flair for the dramatic. The reference is coming from former congressman Anthony Weiner who thinks that the city is facing a challenge (dwindling middle class jobs) as much as an opportunity (growing tech industry) for being the second tech capital of the United States.

He welcomes the 10,000 tech jobs gained but decries the diminishing job opportunities for the middle class. “We’ve been eliminating middle class jobs and backfilling them with restaurant and tourism jobs.”

Weiner was speaking at the Mayoral Candidates Tech Policy Forum at the Museum of Moving Image last June 17, along with other confirmed mayoral candidates– former NYC Councilmember Sal Albanese, former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. and NYC Comptroller John Liu.

The candidates were a study in contrasting styles. Where Weiner and Liu were bold and audacious, the two other candidates, Carrion and Albanese, favored caution and discreetness.

For Weiner, “New York has to remain a magnet for the middle class, because they are the DNA of the city whose success hinges on the three-legged middle-class aspirational stool—being able to afford a place; having some decent public education and getting a steady job with benefits.” Without one leg, the middle class is bound to suffer. Nobody likes to be Monaco.

Speaking for the average middle class, Liu cited how the city is already “facing an aging infrastructure and how it’s made worse by monopolistic systems of big telecommunications companies and Internet service providers who are not holding their end of the bargain.”

He showed his displeasure about how companies can’t even provide the essentials. He said not enough neighborhoods are connected and that there are still dead spots. “We should hold big companies to a higher level of accountability. (If not), the city has to be the enforcer.”

Nilay Patel, the moderator who also writes for The Verge, laid down the tech companies’ most pressing concerns about the city, those who fought or are still fighting some regulations—Aereo with its streaming TV service, uber with its cab-calling app and AirBnb with its short stay rentals.

It was Weiner who responded boldly. “I don’t think uber will ever be a success in New York City. We have a system in place for dispatch cabs, yellow cabs and black cabs. You can argue with the structure. But it has worked very well for the city, in keeping the quality of our rides.”

He added, “It’s (app) a false choice, when somebody could get a ride because he has an app and bypass other people who, not having the app, is left standing in a corner (waiting for a cab). A tech company should not undermine laws so as to protect consumers.”

Patel’s rejoinder: “I hope you reconsider your answer next time you’re looking for a cab in the rain.”

As for AirBnb, Carrion thinks detailed SROs (single room occupancy laws) just need to be followed. “I believe it (AirBnb) will be good for us. It will be good for tourism. It’s expensive to go to New York City. We just need to revisit rules, our land-use policies, and make sure we don’t disrupt neighborhoods.”

In principle, Liu agreed with both Weiner and Carrion. “If you’re making a profit from your business model based on innovation, that’s great. But if you’re skirting regulations that other legitimate businesses have to follow, then that’s not a great thing.”

Carrion puts it simply, “Are you a developer or (job) creator? Are you adding value?”

The forum ran also discussed the need to address STEM (science technology engineering math) education, including teachers of computer science, and a rethinking of zoning laws as well as tech infrastructure. Albanese said residents in Williamsburg have asked him to run their businesses there. Liu said millions of dollars are being poured in a tech school in Long Island City where it thinks the City University of New York should also get some support.

Joel Natividad, founder of open data company, Ontodia, wished the candidates also talked about open government but there was simply no more time.

The forum was organized by the Coalition for Queens with Anjali Athavaley of the Wall Street Journal as the other moderator.

The mayoral candidates draw first blood.

How public Wi-Fi affects public policy, security and civil liberties

By Dennis Clemente

When you nonchalantly access public Wi-Fi in a café to check your friends’ newsfeeds on Facebook, other people have something more than Caramel Macchiato in mind. They’re thinking where does anyone even begin to think of public policy issues, including universal broadband access, federal spectrum policy, data security and civil liberties. The purpose of spectrum policy is to manage a natural resource for the maximum possible benefit of the public.

It turns out public Wi-Fi access is that serious a subject, as it even brought in the cavalry to the eBay office last April 11, in an event called “Internet Everywhere: Role and Implications.” The panels of experts came from government, the academe, legal profession, non-profit organizations, public policymakers and cyber security world.

With a big panel to moderate, Nilay Patel, managing editor of The Verge, had the experts take their turn answering questions based on their field of expertise. However, the talk presented more questions than answers with little wiggle room for the panel of eight experts to elaborate on their thoughts given the limited one and a half-hour time period.

Still, there were some interesting answers to questions that don’t come up too often. For example, is it possible to lose your Internet rights? Yes, if you have six recorded copyright violations.

There were comments about anonymity and security, as both have a corollary effect on a computer user. One can be anonymous at a Starbucks, but you may not be safe and can actually be rendered vulnerable by an application that can be easily bought online.

Others were confident about security online. One expert assured how encrypted data provides protection 90 percent of the time, although developing better mousetraps were still suggested.

Panel of experts at eBay office
Panel of experts at eBay office

New York City Council’s Gale Brewer was in attendance and she pointed how times have certainly changed since she allowed IBM to set up kiosks near municipal hall in the mid-90s. That was the time when just getting an Internet connection was already a big deal.

She might have been referring to how in January 8 this year Google didn’t need kiosks, as they wrapped Chelsea in free Wi-Fi—the largest Wi-Fi hotspot in the area where it also holds office, incidentally.

And that’s even a year too late, as Brewer recounts how “MTA (Metro Transit Authority) took a year to respond to Google” about the tech giant’s plans. She claimed the MTA finally responded when she asked MTA to return the call from Google. This anecdote drew some laughs but it also raised the issue of the city’s tech preparedness. Because in January this year, the city also announced a pilot program to turn payphones into open Wi-Fi hotspots.

To date, the City and AT&T has a five-year initiative to provide free Wi-Fi service at 26 locations in 20 New York City parks across the five boroughs. At present, AT&T Wi-Fi is now available free of charge to park visitors in all five boroughs. There are also plans to have 200 underground stations in New York’s subway platforms.

The event was hosted and organized by the Federal Communications Bar Association (NY Chapter), New York Law School, eBay NYC, the New York Legal Hackers Meetup, the Cardozo Cyberlaw Society, and the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic.

The panel of experts, not in any particular order, were: Diedre Flynn, executive director of Telecommunications Policy and Strategy, NYC DoITT; Joe Plotkin, Board member, NYCWireless; Bruce Regal, senior counsel, New York City Law Department; Mike Roudi, SVP Corporate Development, Time Warner Inc.; Michael Santorelli, Director, Advance Communications Law & Policy Institute, New York Law School; Christopher Soghoian, Indepdent Privacy Researcher; and Jody Westby, CEO, Global Cyber Risk.

Food experts agree genetically modified foods need labeling

By Dennis Clemente

Last March 5, food experts from various fields speaking at the “Future of Food” talk hosted by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) all agreed to have genetically modified foods labeled–if they had their way. Three days later, Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain, had its way. It became the first retailer in the United States to require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores.

The experts at the AMNH consisted of plant geneticist Paul Gepts, ethicist Paul Wolpe and intellectual property lawyer Rochelle Dreyfuss with Frederick Kaufman, author of “Bet the Farm,” as moderator. The talk was in conjunction with the museum’s one-of-a-kind exhibition, “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture.” (

Gene-modified food has become one of the most hotly contested issues of our time. There are so many gray areas that everyone in the panel also think there should be further evaluation–not just about the genetic engineering of crops, but also of animals using “modern biotechnology” and “gene technology”.

Gepts leads the way in saying, “Current genetically engineered crops could be improved by a stronger regulatory process based on improved testing protocols.”

Trying to cover as much ground in one hour, the talk veered in many overlapping directions. The speakers took turns answering questions about the hidden forces that shape what we eat; the legal and ethic implications at play; how biotechnology could affect our food systems; “patenting” nature, and if genetically modified foods are the answer or the problem.

In differentiating our food sources, Gepts points out how meats may be derived from animals that were fed genetically engineered crops, such as corn, but the animals themselves may not be genetically engineered.

Dairy products, on the other hand, may reportedly use bovine growth hormone to increase lactation dairy cows or use genetically engineered rennet to produce cheese. There are snack foods that are said to contain or are derived from corn, cotton, soybean or canola.

Gepts says most fruits and vegetables are not genetically engineered, except for papayas where production in Hawaii is said to be partly genetically engineered to resist a plant virus.

Gene-modified food may cause some health issues, if “diseases are created” as a result of it, not to mention how modification can introduce allergies. Combining peanuts with tomatoes can cause a problem if one is, Wolpe says, allergic to one or the other.

The talk certainly presented itself as a prelude to a wide-ranging issue that could bring in more personalities to the table–more food experts, lawyers, ethicists, environmentalists, foodies and various food companies, all seemingly headed for a serious collision.

It’s what Kaufman called the “wall” between food activists and scientists and what Dreyfuss thinks will make her a mediator to an issue that is going to breed all sorts of reactions and intense debates for sometime to come, especially when other First World countries already have gene-modified food labeled.

Matching social enterprises and developers for a common good

RapidFTR in Uganda from Rapid FTR on Vimeo.

By Dennis Clemente

When you meet Vanessa Hurst, you’ll notice her smile; it’s a perpetual smile that makes her effective in playing matchup. She has been matching developers and social entrepreneurs in her meetup, Developers for Good (, since 2010.

The meetup gathers all organizations of all different needs and stages and those with limited technical skills, even the underfunded.

Last January 30, ThoughtWorks (, the tech consulting company, hosted the event in its 15th St office, kicking off the informal talk with the presentation of its company espousing its mantra: “To better humanity through software.”

ThoughtWorks’ Chris George took the stage first, talking about two of its three-year-old projects, RapidFTR ( and Democracy Now! (

RapidFTR is a mobile app that helps aid workers collect, sort and share information about children in emergency situations with CouchDB as its initial backend. It has recently moved toward the Android platform.

The other project, Democracy Now!, is an independent media organization that George says “pushes a lot of stories that mainstream media is not discussing.”

“We used some of the early versions of Ruby on Rails. We are still changing the codebase today, but it has provided its challenges, as we provide a more updated experience with the latest technical tools out there,” he adds.

The attendees then took their turn about their own social enterprises, so the developers present in the meetup could find out how they can extend their knowledge and technical expertise on prototyping, forming a technical strategy or even when planning projects.

Unlike most meetups where enterprises have running sites already, Hurst’s meetup had attendees who clearly needed extra hands to launch their enterprises. Bill Graham ( is on a mission to initiate a program that seeks to improve education on a global scale with volunteer developers out there.

Smaller in scale but already up and running is, a children’s publishing and educational software company, focused on meeting the needs of urban schools. Recently named a groundbreaking startup by O’Reilly Media and included in its publishing startup showcase, it plans to launch an adaptive reading platform for tablet devices. It is also looking to hire a CTO. Email founder Daniel Fountenberry at

Maria Yuan’s site aims to help people get involved in elections. She first envisioned her site when she received email alerts about IPOs while working on a campaign in Iowa.

It occurred to her that people could receive email alerts about biils that were up for vote in Congress or the State’s legislature. So, she thought, why not have this same function and more for people to have a say on these matters?!

It was also interesting to hear from a more established social enterprise,, which stands up for the rights of the whole music community, from composers to performers. The organization reportedly provides over $1 million each year in grant support for the creation and performance of new work and community building throughout the country.

More attendees spoke up about their own social enterprises – and how they need both developers and non-technical people to help them get their ideas rolling. For them, the Developers For Good meetup helped them network with the right people.

Hurst’s Developers for Good started in 2010 when Hurst said she grew frustrated working for a financial services company. She initially volunteered her database skills before practicing “what I love” now.