Eric Wu joins hackNY as Executive Director

ericwu_headshot600w

hackNY is thrilled to announce that Eric Wu is joining hackNY as its first Executive Director!

Eric led Yahoo’s Hack program for years before moving to New York in 2011. Since then he’s split his time between his own hackathon consulting outfit and serving as the GM of the #1 ice cream shop in NYC.

Eric actually had a helping hand in hackNY’s origin hackathon in April of 2010, as well as nearly all of our 10 hackathons since then . The Yahoo! Open Hack Day in Times Square, which Eric helped to organize and emcee in 2009, was an inspiration for first hackNY hackathon. “Many future members and friends of the hackNY community were there, myself included,” said co-founder Chris Wiggins. “Eric put together a massive event that made coding feel creative, challenging, and collaborative. It made a big impression on all of us.”

In the spring of 2010 Eric flew out to NYC to help hackNY put on their first hackathon. Since then, Eric has served on the judging panel for almost all of our 10 student hackathons.

In his own words:

I’m excited and gratified to be joining HackNY!

When I first met the hackNY crew in the spring of 2010 to help with their first hackathon, I was immediately impressed by their vision for connecting students and the New York City startup community, and it was clear that the students shared that that enthusiasm.

Even coming from tech-heavy Silicon Valley, I could see back then that the NYC tech scene was already vibrant and rapidly gaining steam. Since then, the scene has only grown in strength, with startups blossoming all over the city, attracting world-class talent. So when co-organizers Chris Wiggins and Evan Korth asked me to lead hackNY and take it to its next phase, the choice was easy. New York City is an amazing community filled with diversity and tenacity – and hackNY will do its part to make that community even stronger and better.

When talking about hacking, I always think back to what I learned running hacks at Yahoo! Hackathons were brought into the mainstream back in 2005 by Chad Dickerson (now CEO of Etsy). Chad was my boss at Yahoo! for a time and he always extolled the virtues of the hack – empowering people, getting out of the way, and letting them build awesome things. I’ve tried to imbue this spirit of hack in my endeavors ever since — in my experience, it always, always leads to good things.

I’m proud to be part of this organization that is empowering students and the NYC tech ecosystem. hackNY has done a great job thus far with its mission, with over 130 fellows (our alumNY) from 40 different schools around the world having interned at over 50 different NYC startups.

There’s an incredible opportunity for hackNY to continue contributing to the community, including cultivating gender and minority diversity, expanding the program to start early with high school students, and keep going with long-term mentorship on the other end, and extending into areas beyond engineering, like design and product. These are all things that have been discussed that we can now start making a reality and I can’t wait to get started. If you’d like to help, to discuss, or to be a part of realizing this vision, please email me!

When I think about it, hackNY has a many similarities to an ice cream shop – they’re small/medium business oriented, very community based, high quality ingredients are a must, lots of creativity and fun are involved, and everybody loves ice cream and hackNY fellows. So next time you see me, tell me what you’d like to see hackNY do, and what your favorite flavor of ice cream is! (Really, I want to know!)

2014 Fellow Interview: Catherine

The following interview was originally published in the HackNY FieldGuide for the tenth hackNY hackathon where hackNY celebrated the graduation of its fifth class of hackNY Fellows. Kyle Ryan ’14, interviewed a selection of fellows during the summer to discuss what made them tick.

Want to become a hackNY fellow this summer? Checkout apply.hackny.org.

Photo Jul 06, 3 23 11 PM

Catherine currently attends the University of Chicago, she was the hackNY fellow at Oscar Health in SoHo this summer.

Where did you grow up?

Howell, NJ. It’s a small town in central Jersey. We lived in Howell almost my whole life. We moved once about a block away. I have one sister who is older than me, and when I was 10 we adopted two kids from Ukraine. I was homeschooled for 5 years, so I was in a really sheltered environment. I transitioned to going to public school which was very traumatic. We all know how welcoming elementary school kids are.

I was ahead academically when I transferred. When I was homeschooled, I didn’t have video games or anything, so I read a lot of books. My older sister was a huge influence. I didn’t get into Computer Science until later. I taught myself Python in high school, but didn’t start taking CS until my second year of college.

What’s your biggest struggle?

I would call it ‘self-confidence.’ I need to convince myself that i’m well suited to the task at hand. I tend to fail to internalize my own accomplishments. It’s basically the imposter syndrome. Usually I do just fine, but it’s still something that I get anxious about.

What advice would you give the person you were 4 years ago?

I was probably sleeping this moment 4 years ago, haha. I was a lot more uptight about grades. I was your stereotypical ‘oh my god, I have to be valedictorian and get good grades.’ I guess I wanted to get into a good college. I’ve always been a huge perfectionist.

I would tell them to stop worrying so much. I’ve stopped worrying about my grades. Because in the end, everything will be all right.

Where do you see yourself going in 4 years?

I still have 2 years left of college so I don’t know if I should get a job in tech or go to grad school. As cliche as this sounds, my biggest goal is just to wake up every morning and love what I do. That’s where I want to be.