Education, dating and e-commerce startups in full force at NY Tech Day

By Dennis Clemente

Last April 25, New York had its biggest NY Tech Day ever with an audience that is triple its size from last year and exhibitors from education, dating and e-commerce industries showing up in full force. All in all, about 10,000 people trickled in to hear from more than 400 startups and not-so-recent startups at the sprawling 75,000-square-feet Pier 92, with majority of them based in New York and its boroughs.

Startup founders talked to everyone who cared to listen.
There was Paul Canetti of, formerly of Apple, who offers a publication app with no programming required. “Now, the magazine industry need not bother with the million-dollar cost of coming up with their own magazine app if they can use our app system.”
Would it save and even make magazines thrive? That remains to be seen.

There were about a dozen education sites and apps for both young and old—and those looking to transition to another career. aims to give professionals the chance to upgrade their skills.

Across from each other were and Founded in 2010 Wandy Yeap Hoh and David Park, MeeGenius digitizes children’s stories in audio playback, whereas the latter, founded by Daniela Arredondo, comes in video format. Both think they can co-exist in the marketplace.

For adult learners, and General talked to everyone interested in their short courses and workshops, which range from the marketing kind (social media marketing) to the startup and programming kind, for those not yet familiar with them.

Learning another language took another dimension with Susan O’ Brien demonstrated the app’s interactive capabilities; they’re developed as videos and games.

Sites for the romantically inclined abounded. is about online matchmaking for tattoo lovers; is still doing the online matching in reverse; for couples who need dating ideas and dares you to start phone conversations with strangers.

Asked about how she is going to compete against all the other dating sites, Lori Cheek of raised her hand in a triumphant gesture. “I’m in it to make it!” was featured in The New York Times sometime back.

To look great in those dates, DietBet offers a unique app game—you lose weight you win money. To begin, everyone puts money in a pot. You’ve got four weeks to lose 4 percent of your starting weight. Whoever hits their 4 percent goal is the winner—and splits the pot.

And for those looking to give special gifts, there’s for those must-have coupons,, which bills itself as a “smart gifting engine,” and, with the most unique gifting idea—“social gifting for yourself.” You go to the site, post your lusted-after item, let your friends chip in, and get the money to buy it.

Those looking to make skilled, trade and household services easier to find were also in attendance:, and aim to fit every possible need outside of IT. Finding IT professionals is an entirely different challenge. For even the best recruiters, like and and the new ones like, it must really feel like looking for a needle in the haystack with startups mushrooming everywhere. Some e-commerce sites like and media companies like also used the event for their tech and marketing recruitment efforts.

Not all startups were for necessarily for consumers. Carlos Carbonell and Mat Gaver of, a digital agency with emphasis on mobile innovation, launched their new company, EchoTime at the event. “It makes time tracking affordable and fun for employees to fill up.”

There were some physical devices, too—and they’re both made from Brooklyn. demonstrated its 3D printing machines which sold for $499. Set to launch this year, offers a real-time sensor data that allows you to manage your garden from any web browser.

For those who want to start their own online businesses, start getting crowdfunded at or who were also in attendance. But if you can fund the business yourself like Afzal Faroroqui, owner of, then we should also see you in next year’s tech startup event.

How to crowdfund your business idea successfully

By Dennis Clemente

You have the idea, but you don’t have the money? You might want to try crowdfunding. Last April 15 at the Microsoft office, John Vaskis, Indiegogo’s Gaming Vertical Lead, presented how you can crowdfund your business successfully, whether it’s a game or your dream of publishing your own book: Do a video pitch.

Vaskis said a video pitch gives you twice the chance of getting funds. “Campaigns with videos raise 114% more than campaigns without. Do a three-minute video and make it personal, but also offer unique perks.”

Citing one successful pitch, Vaskis said Angry Video Game Nerd got 6,700 people to create a feature film based on his YouTube personality. “The Nerd sent over 2,500 autographed photos with custom message for his most ardent supporters.”

Vaskis also said updates every five days are important to keep the communication going with your audience. “It has been our experience that this doubles expected funding. “The higher number of updates…the greater the funding success.”

What is crowdfunding? It’s the pooling of funds, from the people who have passion about your idea. It’s as old as the pooling of funds for the Statue of Liberty stand in Ellis Island. Back then, it was the New York Times that served as the platform for New York to raise over $100,000 in funds. Average contribution the paper received: 89 cents.

Crowdfunding is about raising money and connecting with funders online. But where other ways of funding can be merely static collection, crowdfunding is about the shared enthusiasm between the fund-seeker with the funder.

How does one choose a platform these days? There’s the hugely popular, and the fairly new, which may still be free of charges.

Why do people give money for altruistic reasons when he could get a return on his investment somewhere else? That’s been a question for some people, but not for people who sincerely want to help another person fulfill his or her dream.

At Indiegogo, crowdfunding takes these steps to fruition: post a campaign, build virality, collect money, fulfill perks, and get started.

Getting started is just the beginning. You will need to generate interest and momentum for your campaign and that includes knowing how to motivate people to contribute to you. Vaskis said the keys to creating a good pitch are honesty, transparency and authenticity. “Make sure you know what you are raising money for, when your project will take place; why you are raising funds and how you can get people involved.”

It’s also vital that you develop a social media/PR strategy and discuss updates with your audience, as you push your goal and offer perks to your fundraising campaign. It could be a combination of any of the following: offer early access to products/services or discounts or coupons; throw a party for funders; teach a class or host a tour; offer unique, limited edition items; give personal thank you notes; share insider secrets; join the conversation and most important perhaps, communicate early and often.

But where do you even begin? That’s what may intimidate you at first, but it turns out that family and friends can be counted on to be your no. 1 cheerleaders, as Vaskis pointed out how 30 to 40 percent of funding came from them. This creates validation.

If anything, crowdfunding is fanbase building but with some money attached to it. Your network is your “fans” who may contribute $70, the average contribution at Indiegogo.

But what makes Indiegogo unique? It has been doing this on an international scale since 2008, ahead of Kickstarter, which has also proven to be very successful in the U.S. Indiegogo claims to have over 120,000 campaigns from 196 countries.

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