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New York Tech Scene Rising: NY Tech Meetup

01/13/2013 10:30 am 10:30:05 | Updated Mar 14, 2013

A look at the New York Tech Scene from the NYCEDC Entrepreneur at Large:
From the NYC Entrepreneur at Large -

I admit it - it had been a while since I'd been to the NY Tech Meetup. I'd been busy with the NY Video Meetup - which had taken on a bit of a life of its own - and somehow I convinced myself that the worlds largest meetup of techies had gotten so big that it wasn't edgy anymore.

2013-01-12-nytm22.jpg

But when I found myself in NY while so many of my techie friends were in Vegas, playing with new toys and gadgets at CES, I figured it was time to check back in to the meetup and see if I'd been missing anything. Boy, I'm glad i did.

At arriving at the Skirball Center at NYU - I was immediately excited to see the 860 seat auditorium was sold out. CES? what CES? This crowd wasn't pining for the crowds of Vegas. They were full on NY Tech Entrepreneurs and Developers - fired up to see what was going to be unleashed on the stage tonight.

Starting his fourth year as NYTM Executive Director, Nate Westheimer continues to bring his passion for the NY Tech Scene along with his hacker-styled nature to what has become a global tech community. In addition to the seats in the room, NY Tech Meetup now simulcasts to a number of venues, and as Nate announced - now to more than 400,000 Bloomberg Terminal screens worldwide. Truly a global audience. Nate, along with Managing Director Jessica Lawrence, played chief ringmasters.

The evening opened with a number of projects that had grown out of Huricanne Sandy, and developers responding to the needs to organize relief efforts during emergencies.

Disaster Remote Response
- A disaster response platform where remote volunteers could provide helpful information to people pre/during/post a disaster in realtime.

Haris Amin + Raquel Hernandez
http://bit.ly/drr2012 , https://github.com/hamin/hacksgiving2012
@harisamin, @maggit

Voluntarily
http://voluntarily.herokuapp.com/jill/
@voluntarilyapp
Voluntarily is an app designed to help volunteer canvassers and relief organizations collect, communicate and visualize data about disaster-affected areas in real-time.

While I admired the hackers spirt for both of these groups, I couldn't help but feel they were both modest ideas that didn't hold up the complexity or scale of the problems their were trying to solve. Yes, communicating collective needs is the right idea for world with mobile phones, but things like no cell phone service and no electricity to charge phones seemed to puzzle the developers. None the less, starting with folks who took action to solve a real world problem was the right thing to do - and got the evening off on the right foot.

Next up - He Texted.

HeTexted - Real Advice, Real People, Real Time.
http://HeTexted.com/
@HeTexted

This could have been a fun silly project, and at first it seemed like it was. But what became clear after a few minutes was that this polished team understood the power of crowd 'advice' and had found a way to turn a social experiment into a valuable way to connect visitors and a large community of objective observers. They're off to a fast start, and I can imagine this platform growing into a real business.

Using the emerging technology around virtual worlds - Gold Run has an interesting take on virtual advertising. This was a demo that kind of crossed the line from a tech presentation to a bit of a commercial, and you could feel the audience get a bit uncomfortable when one to many brands was touted - but the actual tech seemed to be a bit of an afterthoubght. That being said, the idea of mixing creative work where users can mix their own photo's with a brands creative elements (think Dr. Sues or Rise of the Guardians) has the dna of something cool in it. Just not sure if this is right mix of commercial and tech.

GoldRun - Create and share photos with virtual content
www.goldrun.com
@GoldRun

But then things started to heat up. When tech can fundimentally change how the world works - that gets my attention. Makers Row did that - out of the box.

Maker's Row - Maker's Row is a new online marketplace for American manufacturers and designers.

makersrow.com
@makersrow

CEO Mathew Burnett's grandfather was a watchmaker by trade. Mathew got his BFA in industrial design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and began designing watches for Marc Jacobs, DKNY and Diesel, later becoming senior watch designer for Izod. But when he started his own watch line, Steel Cake, he found that working with manufacturers overseas was just too hard. Instead, figured out that there was a problem that tech could solve. Designers could do only part of the process - but connecting designers to manufacturing in their back yard was a business worth building, bringing manufacturing home.

I loved his presentation, and the passion and life experience he brought to the business. Awesome piece of NY Tech.

then, a new way to buy on-line bandwidth - Karma.

Karma -a simple and honest mobile provider.
http://yourkarma.com
yourkarma

Karma is awesome, but confusing. It's a hardware company - making a device that you can buy for $79 that allows you to buy mobile data in affordable chunks. The more you share your hotspot, the more you earn 'free' data. But really, rather than free, it's more of a bounty or kick back for getting new users on the network. That being said their brand new - having just launched in December, and their less than six months out of TechStars NY - and it's pretty remarkable what they've been able to achieve with a million dollars in venture capital from Werner Vogels (CTO of Amazon), DFJ, BOLDstart Ventures, Chang Ng, Collaborative Fund, David Tisch, David Cohen, Eliot Loh, Jerry Neumann, Kal Vepuri, TechStars and 500 Startups.

Next up - a potentially game changing view of the medical world...

Sherpaa - Making healthcare affordable, accessible, and appropriate with 24/7 doctors for you and your company
https://sherpaa.com/
@sherpaahealth

Dr. Jay Parkinson was trained as a pediatrician - but became so convinced the medicine was broken that he set out to fix it. As he said from the Tech Meetup stage, the idea of a primary care physician is over. Instead, the best doctors are specialist, and for most patients, the decision about how to manage an issue comes down to knowing who you are, some pretty clear diagnostics, and then help directing you to the right provider. Sherpaaa is a company that provides companies (not individuals) with a service lowers costs by providing employees with access to on line 'primary care' on a 24/7 basis. While I like the effort, and his understanding that tech and make health care better, the idea that his solution is a paid service for companies makes it out of the reach of most folks. And his willingness to brush off questions about HIPPA privacy and other issues related to regulation didn't play well in the room. A bit to much 'I'm a doctor "trust me" ' vibe for room of super smart techies who don't like to be talked down to.

That being said - folks liked the idea of Dr.'s re-thinking health care - and I suspect we'll see more companies like this, trying to figure out how to leverage tech and medical knowledge to create efficiencies and cost reductions in health care.

Finally - a NY Tech rock star - 10gen.

10gen (The MongoDB Company) - 10gen is the company behind MongoDB, the leading NoSQL database.
10gen.com / mongodb.org
@10gen / @mongodb

Now, I have to confess - I'm not a developer. So I don't have the slightest idea what they're talking about. But it was great to see real code on the screen - and the crowd clearly liked geeking out on developer innovation. So, I'm a fan - even if I don't speak DB.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Date: January 24th
New York Video Meetup @ Columbia University.

Great folks, great presentors. And Tix are going fast. RSVP Here

Date: January 18
Google Hangout with NYC's Entrepreneur at Large Time: 12- 1 pm
Event: Virtual Office Hours with NYC's Entrepreneur at Large, Steve Rosenbaum
Join our second Google Hangout with NYCEDC's Entrepreneur at Large, Steve Rosenbaum. A veteran NYC entrepreneur with several decades of experience, Steve will be on hand to answer all your startup and entrepreneurship questions. Drop in and get advice on Fundraising, Business Plans, Pitching, Equity, Marketing, Real Estate, Talent, and of course, all things New York City! Steve can also relay your feedback and concerns to the City, to help inform future program development and policy-making.

Participation is completely free. Please register here to best ensure a spot.

Tips, events, or N.Y. Tech news? Email me at Srosenbaum (at) nycedc (dot) com.