New Dawn: What You Missed at New York Tech Meetup

Panorama by @UrgentCareer

Wednesday night’s New York Tech Meetup came in three minutes under the two hour limit, which was amazing considering there were 11 demos, a hack of the month, several announcements and a speech by new managing director Jessica Lawrence on the agenda, interspersed with midi-rendered Weezer songs that the 800 or so audience members mumbled along to under their breaths in the red seats of NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. 

There was no Livestream, which will surely be one of the common complaints that will be directed at its new managing director, who was introduced midway through the event by Chairman Andrew Rasiej. The New York Tech Meetup has been run entirely by volunteers until now, he reminded the audience. “People ask, ‘How come you aren’t doing this? How come you aren’t doing that?’ Well the reason is because we all have day jobs,” he said.

The organization received more than 40 applications for the position, he said.

Ms. Lawrence then got on stage, fresh from a TechCrunch interview, to present herself to members as the organization’s first paid staffer. She introduced herself as the former organizer of a slow-moving Girl Scout organization who attended her first NYTM just two months ago. “I was literally on a plane, one way ticket in hand, L.A. to New York, when I registered for New York Tech Meetup,” she told the audience. She gave out her email address, asked members to invite her to their work spaces and pledged to learn how to code.

Other announcements included Sanford Dickert’s Collabracode project, a six week program for intermediate and advanced hackers to hone their skills; the NYC Startup Job Fair, happening Friday; and Code for a Cure, a hackathon to aid cancer research presented by NY Hacker.

Demo highlights:

BIGGEST PIVOT. Y Combinator alum MessageParty relaunched from being a GroupMe competitor to being a Foursquare competitor. The new MessageParty is location-based blogging, co-founder Amanda Peyton explained, which uses rich media to create a place page with more personality and context than Foursquare tips or a Yelp page. The pitch intrigued some members of the audience, who had several questions for Ms. Peyton (Will negative content be censored? No, and Is it possible to look at the page for a place remotely? It will be) and tweeted approvingly.

HACKIEST HACK. The Lemonade Stand, an app designed to replace the “for sale” section of Craigslist produced during the New York Startup Bus hackathon and still going strong with at least three committed team members. They’re bootstrapping the project and hope to have a stable Android app by next month. Co-founder Jon Gottfried did some live coding, which frightened director Nate Westheimer and the audience but ultimately impressed.

CONTEST. Readability, arguably the purdiest and most advanced of all the demo’ing start-ups, announced an A.P.I. contest. $5,000 to the winner, $2,500 for the runner-up and $1,000 for third place. The hacks are due May 15.

SWAG. Runens made a good case for how running apps should be built with an intuitive, graphical interface and an emphasis on the social side of exercise. The audience was bubbling with questions. Do they save GPS data? Yes. Will it work for a treadmill? No plans for that, because the emphasis is on linking up with other runners. Will they make a version for cyclists? Probably, but they’re focusing on runners first.

AWW. MeeGenius is an app for digital books for kids. Personalize a book with your kid’s name, record your voice for the nights you can’t be around, or have the book read itself to your child in a computerized voice that resonates from the depths of the uncanny valley. The audience lurved it. It’d be perfect for military families, someone suggested.

Other demos included:, an internet corkboard; Ex.Fm, the browser extension that remembers the location of every music file you find in the course of regular browsing; Addieu, an app for instantly plugging new acquaintances into your social networks; ImUp4, an app that predicts social plans and encourages friends to join; Atavist, a digital publishing platform; BrainScape, a web and mobile app for flashcard-based learning; and AskLocal, the first presenter, which Betabeat regretfully admits we missed. We heard it’s an iPhone app for sending messages to locations rather than people. New Dawn: What You Missed at New York Tech Meetup