These debaters know it will be a struggle to make facts great again

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK—There was no faking it. The Daily News Innovation Lab meetup last February 8 at Microsoft was packed for a good reason. The debate, “Proposition: We can solve fake news” had people giddy with anticipation. The debaters would not disappoint.

The hopefuls were Sally Kohn, political commentator and columnist, CNN and The Daily Beast; Dean Pomerleau, co-director, Fake News Challenge; and Melissa Ryan, expert in politics and technology.

The skeptics were John Borthwick, CEO of Betaworks; David Carroll, associate professor of Media Design at Parsons The New School for Design; and Jane Elizabeth, senior manager at the American Press Institute.

Justin Hendrix, executive director at NYC Media Lab moderated the debate with an equal dose of Orwellian seriousness and aw-shucks disbelief following the rise of fake news on social media platforms in the 2016 presidential elections.

Continue reading “These debaters know it will be a struggle to make facts great again”

Book authors on videos, cameras for rent

NEW YORK—What is Penguin Random House doing in a video meetup, especially the NY Video Meetup? It turns out the publishing house carries a collection of videos in different subject matters with some tongue-in-cheek book reports.

http://www.meetup.com/nyvideo/events/226241170/

Penguin Random House also carries videos of authors, so you can see your favorite authors talking about the creative process or just talking, all on its YouTube in channels called Papercuts (for fiction) and Videcracy (for non-fiction material). It makes complete sense, because it publishes 3,500 books a year and there are several ideas and inspiration that it can be mined.

Penguin Random House was also with KitSplit, Viosk, and YouNow were also at the meetup last March 24 at HBO. Steven Rosenbaum hosted and gave his audience his usual recap of video industry news and updates before the show-and-tell demos.

YouNow’s Dorian Dargan demonstrated how its live streaming channel can be so much fun and popular, especially among the millennials, as it picked a random musician online to interact with a birthday celebrant in the audience, singing Happy Birthday to her on split screen view, to everyone’s delight. The platform, which made it in the list of Inc.com’s most innovative companies, has over 150,000 broadcasts or real-time streaming daily.

No if you want to make some videos for viewing anytime, Viosk’s Alex Romanovich showed how to make simple drag-and-drop videos in a few minutes complete with voiceover (even your own voice, if you prefer) and music (with Viosk having an in-house musician composing the tunes). The videos can be uploaded on YouTube.

“It’s a self-serve product with existing templates,” Romanovich said.

And if you’re strapped for cash, it need not stop you from making videos. Kitsplit makes camera rentals made easy, vetted – and even insured. It carries 20 million worth of camera gear, even drones and VR rigs, with delivery. It’s a marketplace site.

“Rental houses work with us. It’s also a marketing tool for them,” co-founder Lisbeth Kaufman said.

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.

Twitter talks about upcoming Project Lightning with journalists

NEW YORK–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.

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/conversations-inside-twitters-news-strategy-tickets-18151142556

Host and moderator Jay Rosen asked the Twitter speakers the most challenging questions about how Twitter is going to work with publishers and how the company is investing in new forms of discovery as well as its impact in the 2016 elections.

In the roomful of journalists at Microsoft, Sharp responded how the site will not be influenced by advertisers or other business decisions. In the open discussion later, though, an intriguing question was asked, Do you feel that the average person is represented on Twitter?

In response to an audience’s request for a better Tweetdeck, Sharp pointed out “how 80 percent of Twitter usage is on mobile devices, which isn’t a practical platform for a Tweetdeck.”

Slated for a Fall release, the new Twitter will have a team of editors curating the content which is foreseen to be more visually driven.

Here are other quotables quotes from the Twitter meetup with NY Daily News’ Innovation Lab:

Sharp:
“Twitter at its core has always been real-time, public and conversational,” said Sharp.

“When there’s a major event and you dive into those tweets, you see a healthy cross-section of the country”

“There is no original reporting being done by Twitter’s Project Lighting team”

“Too much great content is Twitter’s biggest problem. That’s where Project Lighting comes in.”

Patel:
“We’ve come a long way from the days where it’s just headlines and links,” said Patel

“We have no plans to tinker with the main timeline, because we know that’s a core part of our platform.”

“Whatever the topic is, it is all about picking the best content that highlights the story.”

Portable drone and your news summaries on video

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–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.

Stamatovski came up with a drone that can also just fly on its own once you’ve configured it with a Google app from Google Maps. It just comes back to you once it’s done with its assignment.

Easy Drone is an advanced, modular quadcopter designed for videographers that need quick, easy and affordable aerial shots. It is convenient to transport and quick setup without tools. EasyDrone has wireless video and camera gimbal control built in as standard features.

“We also made a drone easy to use, transport and repair,” he claims.

The Easy Drone XP Pro is available for preorder at $1,695.

Another presenter was TouchCast, the leading interactive video platform used by media companies such as the BBC and WSJ, large corporations as well as by students and teachers around the world for video communications.

Co-founder Erick Schonfeld showed how TouchCast creates a full interactive TV studio inside an iPad, along with some bleeding-edge examples of what happens when video and the web merge together.

For publishers, Wibbitz showed how it automatically turns articles into short video summaries.

The scalable video production platform uses advanced text-to-video technology to automatically generate high quality branded content in seconds.

The platform’s unique text-to-video technology allows publishers to easily produce videos from text—at scale—and significantly increase their video ad revenue. The platform supports the creation of thousands of premium videos every day with streamlined editing tools and access to top-quality licensed content from partners, including Reuters and Getty Images.

It’s said to be a 100 -percent automatic process that allows you full control. You can upload your own voiceover and soundtrack.

Wibbitz claims to pay for license for the materials it uses. Because it doesn’t charge publishers, it offers revenue-sharing of ads.

Screening Room is an innovative web-based platform for collaborative feedback on films. You simply upload video drafts, and then engage with team members and screeners who can leave time-coded comments on the draft. The team will be providing a demo of their platform at the meetup.

The idea is to mirror creative workflow.

On the content side, Weirdos Next Door is an awesome series featuring puppets. Now in its third season, the show’s creators Jen and Kay spoke about their experience in the video world and what life is like as a creator.

Critiquing the media when you’re the media

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK– How do you critique or even police the media when you’re part of it? 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 tackled this this topic at the Arthur L. Carter School of Journalism at 20 Cooper Square.

Technology has been reshaping the media business in many ways. From the personalities to the type of coverage and the social tools at our disposal, there’s no mistaking how news has changed and is delivered to us faster now — and online.

How much has changed? Kludt recalled when journalists scratched their heads when Ben Smith bolted from Politico to Buzzfeed. That no longer surprises journalists today, as Buzzfeed has grown immensely and gained tremendous clout.

When you’re the media though, how do  you cover the Charlie Hebdo attack?

Bond knows how awkward it is to both safeguard and critique the media, because you never know when editors will become your “future bosses.”

Abbruzzese sees how it can be an advantage to cover the media. “They know the ethics and etiquette (of the job),” he said.

Kludt sees lots of money being pumped into the industry, which some see could result in a tech bubble. It’s possible, if VCs don’t see return on their investment. But they’re certainly looking to make money out of it.

With social networks getting more attention nowadays, it also provokes the question, “Who (among the media) is controlling the audience?”

Kludt thinks it’s just a classic case of going where the fishes are. You see their (social networks’) leverage over news organizations. The concerns are totally with merit. “We’ll see more news organizations coming to Facebook.”

In light of this, Abbruzzese thinks it’s going to be hard to be just a digital media company. It’s not seen as a viable long-term (business) unless media outlets also get into TV or video news programming.

Bond thinks a paywall system may be worth exploring, if applied correctly, perhaps on mobile (phones) if a special coverage merits it.

Is the news homepage going to be where people still find out about the news? Kludt said people are landing on stories through Twitter. “Let’s see if there’s an immediate consequence.”

What will move media forward?

Abbruzzese likes the overall transparency in the dissemination of the news. “I’m a huge fan of explainers (like the NYTimes’ The Explainer). I like that reporters also explain things than just reporting them.”

Kludt sees the improved accountability for those in public life, as breaking stories do not always come from the media. “The industry is more accessible than it ever was.”

The panel also tackled link-bait headlines and their use.

Abbruzzese said you don’t want to go too far; at the same time you want them to click your story. A/B testing headlines has become common.

Kludt said there is no question it influences headline construction, taking him time to stress his dislike for the constant use of “this” and “just” in headlines.

The panel also discussed about pay in journalism these days. They pointed out how young journalists are willing to work as journalists for 25,000 to 28,000 a year. It’s definitely not an easy job, but it’s good to point out how Salon, one of the early online news sites, got unionized.

Otherwise, there’s little protection in the industry. “The people generating content are not the ones getting rich,” Kludt said.

JJ Colao hosted the meetup.

Nir Eyal talks about his latest book, ‘Hooked: How to build habit-forming products

Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal

By Dennis Clemente

How do you like some structured thinking to go with your startup brainstorming?

The New York tech meetups happening in the city every night are wholly unstructured. It’s just a channel for startups to quickly demo their product and, even in some cases, get feedback from startups, right on the spot. Some presentations may do better in the on-the-fly, off-the-cuff talks, but there’s always no guarantee. What’s guaranteed is how you get the chance to watch a startup founder talk about a work in progress.

Last November 4, structure came to the Alley NYC Meetup when Nir Eyal launched his book there that day called “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.” Eyal certainly gets my nod for being one of the most lucid presenters in the NY tech meetups this year and it’s perhaps on account of how he has formulated a clear basic framework on the subject for a couple of years now, which was evident in his presentation.

It also helps that he has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. His writing on technology, psychology and business appears in the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today. Nir blogs at NirAndFar.com.

The book is a must-read if you are designing a new startup or leading a product development team, as it talks about behavioral uses of technology, apps and social media while also leaving room for us to tackle the hard ethical questions on forming habits. His basic framework is as follows:
1. Trigger
2. Action
3. Variable reward
4. Investment

Triggers: (Internal and External).
Do you know your user or customer’s internal trigger? Find out your user’s itch. People always look for associations, solutions and patterns. It cues the user for the next action, telling what the user what to do next. Look for associations. Ask yourself, when you are bored, what do you do? You go to YouTube? Do you know your trigger? Do they fear missing out on something?

Action.
It is the simplest behavior in anticipation of a reward. Once you have them using your app, what can they do to get a reward of some sort? He cited Facebook’s “Like.” That is a powerful reward that makes people keep coming back to the social network.

Variable reward.
This is social validation among friends or personal gratification. For example, there are 5,000 questions answered daily on Stackoverflow, which indicate how people like to share their knowledge without asking for anything in return, contented as they are that it makes them feel good helping people. People also like feeling a sense of self-achievement or mastery, consistency and control.

Investment.
Users invest for future benefits. Investments store value, improving the product with value. Unlike a chair which depreciates in value, your startup should appreciate in value. The more followers you have for example, the better your value.

Also check out his blog, nirandfar.com

Who wants to challenge the YouTube business model?

By Dennis Clemente

How would you challenge the YouTube business model? Nine years since the video platform launched, no viable competitor has emerged, even if major media companies are reportedly working on plans to disrupt it. Can one really take on Google in the first place? If so, what could a new platform mean for content creators?

Last July 30, VideoInk, in partnership with BigSceen LittleScreen and Magnet Media, hosted a fireside chat with guest speakers Shira Lazar, co-founder and host of What’s Trending and Erika Nardini, chief marketing officer of AOL Advertising, to talk about YouTube and how to diversify the video ecosystem. Sahil Patel served as moderator.

“If you want to develop and nurture an audience, YouTube is the platform to do it,”
Nardini said. However, she also points out that it’s not a curated environment. If you look at iJustine (who has her own show on AOL), YouTube offers the same box that YouTube offers Conde Nast, my kids, and anyone here.”

AOL is known for pursuing personalities like iJustine, an internet celebrity and occasional TV host, as well as Nicole Richie, TV personality and fashion designer. “We love looking to YouTube to find talent for our programming. We love [iJustine’s] YouTube following. We discovered her there and we want her to grow it.

“But we believe there is an opportunity to program and distribute premium environments, and one thing YouTube doesn’t do is distribute. What we believe is having a really significant syndication platform that curates content,” Nardini said.

How does anyone grow a business on YouTube these days? For the panel, the glass half-full scenario is that YouTube allows zero barrier of entry; but the glass half-empty scenario points to the platform earning money, nor the person.

Asked if YouTube didn’t exist where can content be distributed more effectively? Lazar took on this question: “(Choose) either Netflix or Hulu. Amazon is harder, as they don’t curate as much as Netflix or Hulu.”

Two short videos were screened at the event. Set to start on August 11 on YouTube is “Master Date,” a comedic series about dating in New York City featuring Kate Oliva and Bryan Pauquette of Covert Bacon.

The other video was by Ryan Holloway of Forge Apollo. Showing on YouTube channel since May is his short-form series, “American History X-Men.” It’s about what happens in the future when Hollywood runs out of movie ideas.

The meetup was organized by Tiffany Asher.

Is a media startup a good investment?

Adrienne Skinner of e-marketer and Rafat Ali of Skift
Adrienne Skinner of e-marketer and Rafat Ali of Skift

By Dennis Clemente

Media startups — a good investment or not? It really depends on who you’re talking to. This was the topic at the TiE meetup last June 24 on Park Avenue South.

If you’re pitching to a VC, convincing them to invest in your media startup is not easy. That’s what Rafat Ali, founder and CEO of Skift, the leading global travel intelligence publication, will tell you.

If we’re talking numbers, it’s a lucrative industry, because digital ad spending has reached $51 billion. That’s the number Adrienne Skinner of e-marketer showed us.

So if VCs are out of the question, you’ll need to raise funds in your immediate vicinity: family and friends and after that, angel investors, even accelerators or incubators. You could also bootstrap it yourself, hope to raise traction and once you accomplish that, try with a VC again. It can happen.

BuzzFeed and Vice have raised $330 million deals. More recently, Upworthy got $7 million in funding. They’re exceptions, Ali will tell you. Having been a longtime journalist, his insights have always been spot-on.

“The growth curve of media is not as high,” he said, pointing to how media requires brand-building efforts in some of his previous interviews.

Media as an asset class is not a focus for venture capitalists. “Venture capital is geared toward giant opportunities,” he added.

It doesn’t mean that media is not a good investment, of course. Some venture capitalists just have different priorities and others like Lerer Ventures, is perfectly fine as an investor of BuzzFeed.

Travel turned out to be a lucrative choice for Ali, a tech journalist before he ventured into his first startup, PaidContent in 2002, which he sold to The Guardian in 2008.

“Travel is the largest B-to-C e-commerce category at $145 billion (US digital travel sales) and $416 billion (worldwide),” said Skinner of e-marketer, the authority on digital marketing, internet market research, statistics, and objective analysis.

Two inflection points that media can look into are mobile ad spending and digital ad spending. In 2016, ad spending is estimated to increase by 83 percent, overtaking the desktop, which shrunk 2.4 percent in 2014. In 2018, digital ad spending will overtake TV

Mobile’s share of the pie is only doing one thing: Getting bigger at 613 percent. That’s growth in daily time spent with mobile from 2010 to 2014.

Still, digital pubs and ad agencies should take into account that that ad spending is also highly concentrated among a handful of companies. Google, Facebook, Microsoft Yahoo, AOL, IAC, Amazon, Twitter and Linkedin share 66 percent of it, which has reduced traditional ad agencies’ share of the pie.

Social accounts for more than 13 percent of digital ad spending. It’s at $7 billion to $51 billion for digital ad spending. Ali cautions people looking into social opportunities. “Social is really easy to get into, but like badminton, hard to master,” Ali said.

Beyond the number-crunching, Skinner said every marketer needs to know 3 fundamental things: 1) How consumer spend money; 2) how consumers spend time and 3) and how best to reach consumers

For the latter, Ali stressed email newsletters more than once. “It’s the no. 1 source for us for getting users.”

The meetup was hosted by “TiE Bootstrap,” a focused series of panel discussions and workshops for entrepreneurs considering a new venture or in the growth stage.

Sponsored Content videos offer more monetizing opportunities for publishers

At the NY Video Meetup at AOL
At the NY Video Meetup at AOL

By Dennis Clemente

If you’re a publisher, you know how Sponsored Content can help you monetize your site. For the uninitiated, Sponsored Content can be advertorials or story links that usually sits below your favorite news sites, although some are also known to pop up when you least expect it.

Last June 19 at the NY Video Meetup at AOL, Sharethrough and Taboola presented just how videos on Sponsored Content are gaining headway. They were two of four presenters, just the right number; it’s what every meetup should strive for.

Dave Ford of Sharethrough showed how Vine is popular on its in-feed ad exchange, for example. Sharethrough natively integrates all types of brand content (video, images, sponsored content and yes, vines) into the news feeds and content wells of relevant tier one publisher’s mobile and desktop sites.

In his demo, he showed how the integration of in-feed ad exchange to a publisher’s content is supposed to “respect the user experience” because if an item is promotional, it simply says that on the feed.

Why is Vine popular? Is the 6-second video loop the secret to Vine’s success? That was a question posed by host Steve Rosenbaum to the audience. Many in the industry say it’s fast and easy to upload videos. It has also gained huge following on Twitter. What this tells us is how sponsored content continues to improve to the advantage of publishers.

Ford assured us that “feeds are the most effective way for brands to distribute content.”

Taboola’s Andrew Milk noted 30 percent more activity for its videos. The content discovery platform reportedly serves 130 billion recommendations to over 350 unique visitors every month on publishing sites like USA Today, The Huffington Post, Time and The Weather Channel.

Publishers, marketers, and agencies leverage Taboola to retain users on their sites, monetize their traffic, and distribute their content to drive high-quality audiences.

“Our videos have given us an advantage,” he said, adding how publishers can screen ads that fit their identity. He also pointed out how related story links is working for them.

Another presenter relevant for publishers is Appfigures. Its suite of app-data tools are built to deliver insights to developers, publishers and enterprise. What does it do? It’s basically a reporting platform for mobile developers that automatically downloads and visualizes sales data, App Store reviews, hourly ranks and more.

Co-founder and CEO Ariel Michaeli designed around bringing clarity to complex data. If you’re into collaborative video production, Ryan Fitzgerald offers Celtx, which he described as Google Docs for video production teams. Supplemented by mobile and desktop apps, it provides a start-to-end ecosystem for video pre-production.

With Celtx, you can create scripts, storyboards, shot lists, scene breakdowns, budget schedules and more. “We provide an all-in-one solution,” Fitzgerald said.

For people who can’t wait for email and need to be able to move all the time, you can share documents with your entire team (maximum of 50) and work together on productions in real time.