Sometimes, you need to go far away to get a good look at things. That's what happened last week for me, as I traveled to Texas to get a good look at New York. And what I saw may suprise you. Now, to be fair I didn't go to Dallas or Houston - I went to Austin. And my Austin friends tell me that Austin is - well - not quite the same as the rest of Texas. That being said, Austin was, for the five days that I was there very much the center of the digital universe.
The event that swamped the city's hotels, restaurants, bars, and convention center facilities was South By South West Interactive, SXSWi for short. And while the data is purely anecdotal, it sure seemed like a very large percentage of New York's burgeoning Tech Scene had made their way south for the festivities.
While the hallways and panels were packed to the gills with New Yorkers - there was one central place to see and be seen - the Made In NY: Austin party at AMOA-Arthouse where a full-day showcase of the growing NYC Tech community and the supporting ecosystem was on display. The @NIGHT - Made in NY: Austin after party was an interactive experience free for all that covered 3 floors of the gallery - and featured tech, a rooftop film, and a booming DJ dance floor. Trust me, I was there - it was LOUD (but in a good way).
Across the festival some of New York's best known and most prolific entrepreneurs were proudly showing off their latest achievements. Bre Pettis opened the festival with a spirited talk about the power and importance of the Makers Movement, and unveiled for the first time in public the new MakerBot Digitizer, a laser driven platform that can capture and render real world objects so that they can be reproduced in a 3d printing environment. Very, very cool.
WNYC's New Tech City's Manoush Zomorodi was in town and reported: "New York has more than 990 tech companies 75 percent or more based in the city, according to the city's Chief Digital Officer Rachel Hoat. 'We truly are a tech town," Haot said at SXSW. "There is an enormous amount of tech talent, and it's really important that people know this -- they are hiring for 3,000 different jobs.'
Overall - NY Tech never looked better than it did in Austin last week. Confident, proud, and very much leading the charge on innovation. You couldn't help but enjoy introducing yourself as a New York Startup at SXSW.
Then, back in NY - a group of startups and industry leaders gathered at 7 World Trade, on the 45th floor looking down on the remarkable WTC Memorial site. The first time event, known as Take The HELM, was conceived to bring attention and startups to lower manhattan. (H.E.L.M stands for Hire + Expand in Lower Manhattan). Twenty finalists all arrived, already achieving some acclaim by being chosen from more than 300 applicants. The finalists each received $10,000 for making it to the last round of the competition. In the end more than one million dollars was awarded to four companies: Booker, Flatiron School, Paperless Post, GrapeshotRTB, and STELLAService.
"Take the H.E.L.M. is helping to highlight that Lower Manhattan is one of New York City's most dynamic neighborhoods, playing a central role, not just in finance, but many new and exciting industries," said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky.
It was a great night for Tech in New York... and already NYCEDC has announced that they will run the competition again next year. One can only imagine how many entries they'll see by 2014.
Then, just a day later - the F.ounders event called START:NY brought together a rock star crowd of digital bold face names at the NASDAQ MarketSite inTimes Square. The event, curated by Paddy Cosgrave, brought a remarkably high level of insight in a packed agenda. With execs from Guilt Group, Uber, Foursquare, and more. 150 Founders in all, and a total of more than 400 investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders.
Between Austin, the LoMa event for Take The HELM, and the inaugural START:NY event presented by F.ounders, New York Tech and one heck of a week. Whew! And it's only the first day of spring.
Next week - some big happenings to check out:
Tuesday: The New York Tech Meetup at NYU.
The Tech Meetup doesn't release presenters before the event, but don't let that scare you away. It's always a great event, and you can often buy tix last minute, or go to one of the off site viewing events.
Thursday: The New York Video Meetup at Columbia University.
1. Robert Green, Senior VP, Creative, Conde Nast Entertainment
Robert is an LA transplant - and just launched Huff Post Live on the west coast this summer, he is now launching Conde Nast Entertainment, channels for all of the brands at CN, giving them full programming for youtube and other distribution channels. There's been a ton of buzz around this content startup: http://bit.ly/1560ZOR
2. Saul Hansell, CEO and Founder, Sii Media, Inc.
Saul Hansell is a long time member of the NY Video Meetup, and the former Technology Reporter for the New York Times. Saul has jumped over to the startup side of the world, founding Sii.TV to revolutionize video newscasts.
As the CEO and founder of Sii.TV will give the first public demo of the company's interactive, on-demand video newscast. It should be a great premier.
3. Eric Feinstein, Regional Manager, Deltatre
Deltatre believes everyone should be able to experience the thrill and electricity of live sporting events. Deltatre is striving for the next level of interaction and by using pioneering technologies, are able to offer global audiences immersive, multi-dimensional sporting coverage that delivers a level of engagement never before experienced.
4. Adrienne Schmoeker, Talent Solutions Lead, Catchafire
Catchafire matches professionals who want to give their skills with nonprofits and social enterprises that need their help. Catchafire organizations identify their needs as short-term, discrete, and individual-based projects. Their projects are structured in this way to make it easy for professionals to help in the midst of their busy daily lives. Check out some of their projects here.
7:00-8:00 Presentations and Q&A
Have a great week NY Techsters...
Tips, events, or N.Y. Tech news? Email me at Srosenbaum (at) nycedc (dot) com.