Friday Jul 27 2012: class of 2012 DemoFest!

This summer, hackNY was able to introduce a stellar cohort of student-hackers from across the country (and Canada!) to some of NYC’s best startups.  We couldn’t be more proud of the group and all they’ve done. (You might have seen our updates via @hackNY or our blog, http://hackNY.org/a/blog ). They independently organized teaching workshops to learn from each other; many of them launched new products or features at their startups; and still more have some great things they’d like to share with you. To that end, on July 27, 2012 hackNY presents the final DemoFest for the 2012 hackNY class, at NYU’s Courant Institute. We hope very much that you can make time to join; please do fill out the eventbrite at:

http://hackNY2012.eventbrite.com/

We hope to see you there!!!

2012 hackNY Fellows at the June New York Tech Meetup

In this post 2012 hackNY Fellow Daniel Lobato describes the June 2012 New York Tech Meetup. Daniel was raised in Europe and moved 2 years ago to California to go to college.

The rise of New York as a technological hub that will challenge the Silicon Valley at some point is a fact that has been really interesting to people in the startup community for several years. Now after the tremendous effort that everyone in the scene has done, it is an undeniable reality that nothing compares to NYC aside from Silicon Valley when it comes to startup ecosystems. Be it Boston on the east, Austin or Seattle on the west, they are still running against two really big ‘players’. My personal view on this was that companies in New York benefit from having such a diverse city with thousands of the most talented people in the world, while the valley has its own unique flavor where most of the people there are related with technology in some way or another. I do not really believe that it is posible to replicate what happened in that strip under San Francisco but that is not necessarily bad. What I thought, though, was that the difference between these personality traits between the two areas, would make people be a lot more oriented towards different things. Even though what happens on the valley usually starts oriented towards geeky, valley-like people, they have a great talent to make that appealing for the rest of the world.

And here is where NY Tech meetup plays a vital role, along with other projects that are setting apart New York as a really appealing place for engineers and computer scientists from all around the world to work at (outside of Wall Street-like jobs). To me, coming from a fairly different background than most of the fellows (raised in Spain, been in Europe for most of my life until I moved to California for college) it really showed me that people here are taking the real feedback this city provides — not the sugar coated one that they would get at the valley — and using it for good.

The first time I heard about NY Tech meetup was when I was checking meetup.com for some events for engineers. It showed up as one of the featured events but when I opened it I thought that it would be too non-technical for me. After some days, Evan Korth, co-founder of hackNY and part of the board of directors of NY Tech meetup sent an email to all of us fellows inviting us to come and take a sneak peek at the best growing startups in New York. People told me it was mostly hit or miss but even if it is, I honestly think it was a real hit last time. The venue is really impressive, I think the theater can hold up to eight hundred people, and it was completely sold out. They introduced the event to all the newcomers and in a nutshell, around ten startups were showcasing their products to an audience highly interested in their products. Also they gave us hackNY Fellows a shout out for attending the event. It was a little daunting to be applauded by such a big crowd, but it was good to hear we are good assets for the city tech scene. I could spot some investors, as well as some other computer scientists, mostly people in this industry willing to make connections and spend a great evening. After the initial presentation, blazing fast presentations for all the startups started. Each of them has five to ten minutes to show their product, and right after three of them are done with the presentation, there is Q&A for the audience. Even though all of them were real early-stage startups, they had truly amazing products, it is unfair not to mention them all as none of them was bad at all, but I would like to talk about the four ones that really struck me for very different reasons.
nimbleTV

Cable TV everywhere, seamless experience. TV might be dead for some people but there is still a gigantic market there, and players like nimbleTV are decided to take it. Just check out their video, basically imagine you could watch any TV channel, HD definition, anywhere, on any device. And for cheap. They did it.

lover.ly –

Have you been through the hassle of organizing a wedding? It is a time sink, just because it is particularly complex to find everything about it in one place. Instead, you have to go and ask around a humongous area to find what you want. These guys experienced it themselves, told us, and fixed it.

estimize

Honestly, even though I am not interested on the stock market anymore, I cared a lot about it before and I can tell  estimize is not only going to generate a huge revenue very quickly but it can potentially affect a huge market as the financial estimates are. They probably do not have the best execution yet, then again their estimates matches these of Wall Street private estimators with more than a 60% accuracy. The idea is just crazy good, if they execute well, I can expect to meet the founders vacationing in Bora Bora every weekend.

rapgenius

They already have a huge user base, a number of big artists signed up, success is just around the corner for them. For all of you hip hop addicts, they have people and even the artists themselves explaining their obscure lyrics. Using a wikipedia-like approach, these verses will no longer be unintelligible again. These guys did a really fun presentation too.

After the meetup, there is an afterparty for those who like networking. It seemed to be really interesting but we had a dinner instead with some of the fellows, previous fellows, and obviously Evan, Chris and Manya. All in all, I will make sure not to miss next NYTM!

Spotlight on: Tami Evnin

Spotlight on: Tami Evnin

Tami Evnin is a designer, coder, and a member of the class of 2011 hackNY Fellows. This spring, she installed #FEEDmixer, an interactive show and party space for SXSW,  as part of the FEED art show put on by the Brooklyn design studio, Learned Evolution. What was the experience like? Tami gives us a peek into the process.

I was there as part of a group of Parson’s students exhibited in the show. There were 6 large LCD screens displaying our work. Three were facing the street and three were facing inside the exhibit. Mine was on the front window facing out to the street. The concept of the exhibit was about Twitter.

There were two modes of display. One mode was passive data visualization of the trending topics in Austin. Flocks of birds flew across the screen where each bird represented 100 tweets and the numbers of birds were determined by the trending topics.

DJ Booth
The other mode was a DJ console where users could live-mash Tweets, video, and audio at the console. There work is displayed on the large LCD-screens in front of them. We got to collaborate with some amazing people on this display. Eclectic method and [namethemachine] did the DJing and the live video manipulation. We made custom video content for the work and programming exhibit to pull in video, audio, and overlay the twitter data.

The whole show went on for all 10 days of south by southwest. During the day, it was an art gallery and at night, we hosted huge parties. The evenings were especially popular.

I worked with three other women. It was our first time formally installing artwork. We were involved through Learned Evolution. They put on the gallery and reached out to us in early February. They asked us to incorporate Twitter and put us in contact with the other artists.

We worked on the code for the project for about a month because we needed custom built software for all the interaction. We hooked up the hardware in about two days when we got to Austin. All the content ran through our code so our work determined the overall look of and interaction in the exhibit.

I really enjoyed all the layers that went into making the exhibit because I got to work with new technologies like midi controllers and video splitters I wasn’t necessarily exposed to in school projects. It was very satisfying to see all the puzzle pieces come together the day before the show.

Overall, it was a great experience. I collaborated with people with great energy and I’ve come away with good relationships. It was my first time seeing my work in public. Understanding how to make a public exhibition happen and knowing that I can earn an income through installing art puts becoming a professional artist on my radar.

Checking in with Manya Ellenberg, GM of hackNY

Aditya Mukerjee (hackNY Fellow 2011) sat down with Manya after settling in to week 4 of the 2012 hackNY Fellows program to check in on how things are going since she arrived at hackNY in January. They sat down at hackNY HQ this week.

–How’s it going Manya?
Everything’s great!

–Why are you & hackNY a great match?
hackNY’s mission excites me. hackNY touches on three of my passions: tech, students, and New York City. At hackNY I get to take those three things and help build into a community. Before hackNY, I was the Athena Leadership Lab Coordinator at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, a three year old center working to foster the next generation of women leaders. There I got to help create a center dedicated to the advancement of women leaders and now at hackNY I’m working on cultivating a community talented student-hackers. We recently welcomed our third class of hackNY fellows. It is awesome to be a part of the dynamic hackNY community where I get to enjoy and bring my skills to continuing to foster a community of talented and creative hackers.

–Give us a behind the scenes day with co-founders Evan and Chris.
This shouldn’t be surprise, but what impresses me most about Chris and Evan are their commitment to the students. The students are at the center of every conversation and decision that we make at hackNY – whether we’re planning for the hackNY Fellows, hackNY student hackathons, or alumni activities. That’s what hackNY is all about – the students and creating a community for them. It’s just great working with them.

–Say something about the hackNY Fellows.
The 2012 hackNY Fellows are a talented, smart, slightly naughty group of creative badasses. They’re working hard at their start-ups every day, come home to the dorms and hack together at night, and explore NYC on their free time. They ask insightful questions at our bi-weekly speaker events. It’s awesome to hang with them and I have lots to learn from them this summer.

–Since your arrival at hackNY, have you added more technology in your life?
I’ve been spending a lot more time in my terminal since coming to hackNY. The first week of the program, we were at an event and I overhead one of the Fellows say, “let’s go back to the dorm and hack on Manya.” Turns out they named the hackNY IRC bot after me. I don’t spend much time on IRC, but I hope that the hackNY Fellows continue to use Manya bot for years to come. It’s my hope to be one of the oldest IRC bots of all time. I’m also looking forward to attending the tech workshops the Fellows run.

–Tell us a fun Manya hackNY fact.
My first hackNY tweet was retweeted by Mayor Bloomberg.

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Manya Ellenberg is hackNY’s general manager. She’s a Barnard College alumna and Athena Leadership Scholar. She served as the Athena Leadership Lab Coordinator at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College and interned and researched for the President of Echoing Green. Manya has also volunteered with Columbia’s Peer Health Exchange. Before starting her undergraduate degree, she spent a year in Tel Aviv. Manya’s a native New Yorker with a great passion for NYC’s sights, sounds, food, and energy.

hackNY Summer Series: Jonah Peretti

In this post 2012 hackNY Fellow Samuel Stern describes the hackNY Summer Series lecture by Jonah Peretti of Buzzfeed.

Last week the HackNY fellows got to hear from Johan Peretti, founding member of The Huffington Post and current CEO of BuzzFeed.  I thought this was an awesome talk, so I decided I’d write this week’s HackNY blog post and talk about what I took away from the experience.

First of all, the most interesting part about Jonah was that he is not a hacker in the traditional sense.  He never (to my knowledge) built any world-changing software or took down a famous website.  Instead, he is a social hacker with an incredible understanding of how to properly utilize technology.   Jonah led off with a story about how a snarky email exchange he had with a Nike representative went viral, and how this lead to his fascination with internet epidemics and the power of social media.   He proved that these events are not random, but rather predictable given the right set of conditions.  After his accidental Nike fame he successfully experimented in engineering viral stories and was even able to teach others (graduate students) how to do the same.

This is how Jonah became a vital part of the Huffington Post.  He understood how to prioritize the articles and photos that would have the largest impact on the web, and how to do so with empirical testing rather than the guess-and-check methods employed by most media websites at the time.   While everyone and their sister wants to make a social experience now, Jonah understood the potential of social over a decade ago (that’s a long time in tech years).

After from his incredible ability to bend the web to his will, the second most interesting thing discussed at the talk was his advice about raising capital.   I have no experience raising money for a startup, but I always thought that it’s all about getting meetings with the right people and making a convincing pitch.  Jonah posited that an even more important factor in meeting with investors is concurrency.  Investors will be more likely to buy into your idea if they know that you are simultaneously in talks with their peers due to the competitive nature of the industry.  He said that as an entrepreneur looking to raise money the goal is not only to get many investor meetings but also to get them all at once.

Overall this was a great tech talk, and it got me thinking about my future in startups.  Jonah’s advice for an idea was to find something that can be done right now that couldn’t be done without modern technology (social or otherwise) and take it to the next level.  That’s definitely something I’ll be thinking about going forward.