Event Recap: April 2016 NY Tech Meetup

This week, the New York Tech Meetup was hosted at NYU’s Skirball Center. As usual, the Lab was in attendance, keeping tabs on the exciting new startups coming out of our city. This month’s event played host to a number of interesting companies offering varied solutions across a wide array of industries.

The first company of note was COSIGN, which offers a very interesting solution for CPG and fashion brands in particular. Their mission is to turn every socially-shared image into a digital storefront. With their app, users can tag products in their pictures to enable annotations that link other users to purchase. The image can then be shared to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Tumblr. The user that posts and tags the image can earn points, rewards, and even money for the referral.

If your brand has a strong presence in sports, it may be worthwhile to explore Rukkus, a live entertainment marketplace for buying and selling tickets. They are launching a new feature in their app that allows the user to click on a seat and open a 360 image of the view from the seat. They have already mapped over a hundred live music and sports venues. For the smaller places they can’t reach, they are crowd-sourcing panoramic images taken by users.

For those looking to step up their online dating game, Connectidy analyzes your social media using IBM Watson to create a personal profile. The profile includes your personality traits, needs, and values. The messaging platform also offers a “spell check for emotions,” which tells you how your messages are coming off and what to do to optimize them. Once you’ve taken your online romance to the next level and met in person, Connectidy will allow users to rate their date and provide feedback to each other. It also uses IBM’s cognitive computing to refine your profile over time based on all interaction touch points.

A number of other companies introduced their impressive solutions. These included an incredible reverse image search based on a neural network; a gamified productivity app to fight procrastination; a modular, hackable, smart band; and a centralized workflow platform for the hospitality industry. The Lab looks forward to May’s array of entrepreneurs and startups.


NY Tech Meetup - March 2016

Event Recap: March 2016 NY Tech Meetup

The IPG Media Lab went in to March like a lion by attending the NY Tech Meetup on the first of the month. To kick things off, Code/Interactive introduced teams of local high school students that had participated in their 24-hour hackathon. The prompt for the project was to design a tech product to help your community. First to present was the team behind Lend a Hand, an online platform that allows students to earn compensation towards a college education in exchange for community service. Companies can choose to contribute to students’ 529 College Savings Plans based on the hours they worked. This encourages young people to participate in socially beneficial activities and build their college resume while also providing a valuable PR opportunity to brands.

Due to the high rate of police brutality in the US, the next team, Protect and Swerve, was inspired to build a map that marked all reports of relevant incidents. Their aim is to create awareness around these events in attempt to curb them in the future. The students made it clear that they are not advocating distrust in police, that they respect cops, and only a small minority are responsible for the offenses that we see in the news. The team also built a game that prompts the user to get to school by avoiding pixelated police. The character is able to pick flowers and deliver them to the officers in the game as a peace offering.

Finally, many teenagers struggle to choose a particular field of study and need a spark to inspire them to pick a career path that suits them. The last student team attempted to provide this inspiration with their product, Teen’s Hope, an app that connects students to mentors for career guidance. The two sides are able to communicate through a Facebook API and can schedule shadowing sessions. This particular correspondent wishes he had had this tool at his disposal when deciding on a major (Political Science? Sure, why not?).

Among the other products demoed were a programmable race car toy whose goal was to teach children STEM from a young age, an aesthetically-pleasing accessory that emits a debilitating siren to ward off would-be assailants, and a database that is making the NY State government more transparent. In addition, the crowd was introduced to Ingredient1, a food discovery app that indexes nutritional facts and provides recommendations based on custom flavor or diet profiles. Another useful app on display was Parking Oracle, which deciphers cryptic parking signs to give you a simple “yes” or “no” answer as to whether you can park in a particular spot at that moment. Finally, Atri.me presented their experimental plug-in that captures a user’s dwell time on content as they browse the web and pays the content author based on time spent. It is safe to say that the future of the New York tech community is very bright.


Event Recap: February 2016 NY Tech Meetup

On Tuesday, February 9th, the IPG Media Lab attended the NY Tech Meetup at the Skirball Center for Performing Arts. A handpicked selection of New York City’s most promising startups took turns demoing their products to a capacity crowd, representing a wide array of industries from event planning to manufacturing. Below are some snapshots of the exhibitors:

TradeIt is a Fintech company that allows investors to place trades on the sites where they get their news. Let’s say you are reading about Apple’s amazing quarter on The Street. TradeIt powers the button on the article page that allows you to purchase shares of Apple immediately. With a secure API that plugs into financial news sites, TradeIt prompts the user to select their broker to execute the trade. This feature is currently live with 23 partners and available on both desktop and mobile apps.

Perhaps you would like a quick, affordable way to manufacture small goods. VooDoo Manufacturing can help you achieve your goal with their 3D printing warehouse located in Brooklyn. Consumers can upload a 3D model, enter a quantity, and purchase all through their eCommerce site. If they need help with the 3D model, VooDoo’s team of designers can assist with the creation process. Low volume orders of 20 units or less ship next day, while high volume orders of over 10,000 units take up to two weeks.

If you need help planning your next party, it is time to download Funnster, the event planning app. Hosts post events with time, date, location and invite their friends. They also choose favors that they will need for the party so their guests know exactly what to bring. They also have the option to simply share the cost of the party with the host. In order to acquire new users, Funnster is offering $40 towards booze for hosting a party through their app. Keep them in mind for your next soiree!

Rather than staying in and hosting, sometimes it’s more fun to hit the town. With all of the great locations available in New York City, DIDiT NY can help you narrow down the options. Their experience discovery app curates lists based on expert columnists’ advice. For example, you want to visit Beyoncé and Jay Z’s favorite dinner spots. DIDiT crawls through web content and curates mentions of the power couple’s dining habits and surfaces options to you. You can then save the locations and mark once you’ve “DIDiT.”

Now one thing that Beyonce and Jay Z certainly have is a massive social following. Shareablee monitors social conversations to provide insights on content engagement. They pull all interactions (likes, tweets, comments, etc.) across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn to build user profiles. Marketers can use this platform to measure their social footprint and discover the makeup of their target audience.

Rounding out this month’s Tech Meetup were a career building tool, a site for monitoring the public council in NYC, an educational interactive toy, a 3D sketching platform, and an app that punishes the user for being late. Overall, the meetup showcased a very impressive lineup of innovative and useful tech.

Event Recap: November 2015 NY Tech Meetup

The New York Tech Meetup is the largest meetup group in the world with over 47,000 members from the tech community in NYC. On Tuesday, the Lab attended their monthly event to see some of the city’s most promising startups demo their products live. As always, the ingenuity on display was inspiring. Below are brief summaries of some of the exhibitors:

Venuebook offers an easy way for a user to book a group outing or private event with the Expressbook tool. Available in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington DC, the tool allows you to search for and reserve the perfect space for your party. Venuebook is able to provide real-time venue availability because they are the calendar platform of record for a number of restaurants and event spaces.

For those that are dedicated to eating healthier, Foodstand is building a food community to help foodies find, cook, and eat better food. Users can search posts to see what others have made for inspiration, discover local restaurants, and win prizes for participating in challenges (like their recent food waste reduction challenge). Pictures, recipes, and reviews live on a central news feed. Foodstand also mentioned they have a partnership with Dig Inn.

For consumers that are tired of dealing with cellular providers, Karma is a Wi-Fi hotspot that allows users to purchase cellular data when they need it for $14 per GB. Users can also earn karma points in the form of data by allowing others to connect to their hotspot. There are over a thousand Karma devices currently deployed across the US and a user’s “gas tank” of data can be accessed via any of them. Karma currently operates on Sprint’s 4G LTE network. The founder claimed that he has had his phone on airplane mode for the past three years and has instead been operating entirely on Karma’s network.

In addition to the main exhibitors, students who had participated in HackNY demoed their projects. The first was Roam, for people that may be stranded without data or strong service (often at the end of a long night). The app allows users to get directions, check the weather, and even hail an Uber ride without the use of cellular data. Instead, requests are routed entirely through SMS. Second, Lights, Camera, Location! uses a Google API to search the entire world for the filming locations of any Hollywood movie. It is incredible that both of these solutions were conceived and built in only 24 hours!

Other companies to present included a podcast that drops hints for listeners to piece together to unlock the next episode, an online education platform for web development, and a safe way for sexual assault survivors to report their attacks. Overall, the audience was introduced to some extremely interesting and useful products, and it is clear that the tech community in New York is thriving.

Event Recap: September 2015 NY Tech Meetup

Last week, the Media Lab attended the New York Tech Meetup on campus at NYU. A number of startups showcased demos of their products, with varying levels of marketing implications. The environment was an open forum and the only question that was off limits from the audience was: “what is your business model?”

There were a wide range of solutions on display including a company that turns text into digital handwriting, a URL security database for brand protection, and an app that automatically edits music videos by syncing multiple takes to the audio. As far as companies that could be potentially interesting to marketers, a couple of the presentations stood out:

  • Grsp is a shopping app that allows a consumer to shop confidently by aggregating product reviews and competitive online and offline pricing. Consumers can scan a barcode, take a picture, or manually type in the name of a product in order to inform purchase decisions. As of now, Grsp is focusing on growing their scale. However, in the future, it may be possible to leverage their purchase data to re-target or conquest consumers.
  • Goldbean is an investment platform that targets finance novices. They are able to recommend equity to users based on their consumption data. Goldbean offers transparency into holdings within ETFs in order to lift the veil to people who are just starting off with their investments in order to make finance less intimidating. Their trading is built on Tradekings API and once scale is achieved, they will have an impressive amount of consumption and finance data on their audience.

Overall, there were some very impressive demonstrations that had practical use cases, although not many of the presentations offered much to be leveraged by brands. Most were in the very early stages of development and will be monitored as they grow their user bases for potential partnerships.


Event Recap: February 2015 NY Tech Meetup

Once again, New York’s largest hangout of tech dorks and startups occurred at NYU’s Skirball Center to see apps, coding solutions, on-demand services, and (of course) personal robots.

Attendees seemed most excited about Pager, an app that brings back a very old on-demand service — house calls. Pager allows users to book house calls from doctors, submit their symptoms, and shows nearby doctors. The emerging connected health space is still mostly unregulated, but Pager says their app is HIPAA-complient.

Other standouts were Dasher, a messaging app complete with rich media like GIFs; MindMyBiz, which aggregates public data to give more insights to small businesses; and Abacus, an expensing tool for businesses (used by everyone from Foursquare to Y Combinator). A really unusual presentation was from Robotbase, an autonomous AI stand which connects to all IoT devices, apps and open tech in a house and interfaces via a cartoon avatar on a stand.

Rounding out the pack: Bowery, a cloud coding solution that facilitates development; Kids Creation Station, which uses 3D printing to bring children’s drawings to life; Classcraft, which turns any classroom into a role-playing; and Poacht, which is something like Tinder for job discovery.

(Image via tech.co)

Event Recap: December 2014 NY Tech Meetup

The December 2014 NY Tech Meetup was a great sendoff to a banner year in New York’s hotshot startup scene. Key points were a presentation by New York State Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot about the state’s first website update since 1998, and a typically high-spirited cryptocurrency marketplace pitch. The city’s largest tech meetup is as inclusive, cluttered, and enthusiastic as it’s ever been—there were even lightsabers at the door, courtesy of Rackspace’s Object Rocket.

The startup pitches ran across nearly every buzzy sector: interactive video (Wirewax, which launched a shoppable episode of Cougar Town for TBS last season), social finance (Openfolio), Bitcoin (Celery, which also sells DogeCoin, in case that’s your cryptocurrency of choice), employee learnings (Showd.me), and more. A particularly interesting pitch came from Kinvolved — an attendance management system (“sort of like Tinder, but for kids,” quipped the presenter) for schools to ensure that kids are safely in school, with a built-in reminder technology.

On the content side, Bespoke is a browser that was described as “a holistic ideation workflow for creatives.” In human words, this means it’s a browser with built-in tools for sharing, gathering, and editing content. The content can be organized into books for easy collaboration. Think You is trying to pioneer a “wearable social network,” but will probably have obstacles as long as its QR-dependent programming fails to scan during live demos. Trying to pioneer revenue model for musicians was appLOUD, an Instagram-meets-Indiegogo app that syncs live video with links to tip an artist, or buy their music.

It’s not always a hit parade at the NY Tech Meetup, but that’s part of the fun — at an event featuring everyone from a New York official to a 3 day-old startup, the enthusiasm will carry us over into 2015.

(Image via)

Event Recap: November 2014 NY Tech Meetup

The November NY Tech Meetup featured easy college apps, interactive fiction, and of course, programming dorks. We love NY Tech Meetup not just for its technology-focused demos — though the noticeable absence of VC stress is constantly refreshing — but also for its diverse set of voices and presenters. Co-hosted by tech luminary Anil Dash, this month’s meetup hosted a slew of interesting product and technology demos:

Parcel is taking New York by storm, since it simplifies a common problem: many delivery services require signatures at the door, but the recipient is often at work, so there’s no good way to get a package. For $5, you can ship your package to Parcel’s warehouse, where they text you for an after-hours delivery window, and hand-deliver the package.

Waywire curates channels via passionate luminaries through its consumer and enterprise platforms. It remains to be seen if curation can hold its own against automated recommendation engines, but for now, Waywire has a few big names alongside it — TED, Vulture, and TimeOut have all used the service to create video channels.

Other products of note included:

  • Simple Machine’s new game The Outcast presented an interesting solution to interactive fiction — Google Docs.
  • Admitted.ly simplified the daunting college admission process via a social network.
  • Squarespace ran a victory lap for its successful publishing platform.
  • Offerpop explored engagement marketing via an interesting combination of hashtags, rewards, and mailing lists.

(Image via)

Event Recap: September 2014 NY Tech Meetup

The NY Tech Meetup celebrated its tenth anniversary Tuesday night with an audience of 800 and a special appearance by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Along with former Mayor Bloomberg’s visit in 2011, this is the second visit by a standing mayor to one of the city’s premier tech events. This month, NY Tech Meetup featured coding-free app creation, customizable product design, mobile payments, a heating detection sensor, and more

Mayor de Blasio used his surprise keynote to announce the creation of a Chief Technology Officer position in New York. The city’s first “tech czar” will be Queens native Minerva Tantoco, formerly of UBS and Merrill Lynch.

The rest of the NY Tech Meetup was populated by demos, precocious members (one of the audience members was eleven!) and the welcome trend of more women involved in tech.

The evening occurred under the shadow of Apple’s massive announcement that afternoon (“this is the second keynote you’ll see today”). Notable demos tonight were:

  • Dashlane, a mobile password/login/payment app that ensures quick and secure checkouts on mobile apps and Safari. It’s a beautifully designed app—users enter their name, shipping, and billing info, and never have to log in again. The recent announcement of Apple Pay will be very interesting for Dashlane; it was the elephant in the room all night.
  • Heat Seek NYC, a de Blasio-approved platform to detect apartment temperatures for heating complaints. Heat Seek explained that of the 200,000 annual heating complaints, many go unresolved due to unreliable data, leading to violations and health issues, disproportionally among low-income residents. Heat Seek NYC aims to fix that: their sensors can be installed cheaply, and will broadcast temperature data to make sure that a heating complaint can be backed up in court. Mayor de Blasio offered them a meeting with the Housing Commission, and the crowd gave them a massive ovation.
  • Bubble, a visual interface for app development in lieu of coding. Powerful and efficient, it includes a simulated front-end and back-end as well as a publishing element. The one troubling aspect is its lack of open source capability, but the functionality was impressive for non-coders.