August NY Tech Meetup: Learn to Code, Then B— With Friends


That’s Bike, btw.



For anyone who has never attended a New York Tech Meetup, or watched the simulcast at New Work City or online, it’s not your typical series of demos. It’s a show and a highly entertaining one at that. Follow the twitter stream (#NYTM) and if you’re weren’t so fortunate as to get one of the 800 tickets available, it’s almost as good as being there. Almost. And among the stars of the evening are the startups:

1. Poncho is only available in NY presently, and it’s a personalized weather service, given in plain language, tailored to your routine, delivered in a text message or email. You input your location, routine (what time do you wake up; do you exercise outdoors; when do you leave for work and what is your route; do you have seasonal allergies). Poncho will give you the weather, pollen count, subway delays pertinent to you and injects humor along the way. “It’s the best thing on the internet, besides cats,” claimed founder Kuan Huang. You can also share on Twitter. They were giving away tee shirts for the first 20 people who signed up, but none of the fashionistas in the room broke a sweat over that one. Great service; tees not likely to show up on any Fashion Week runways or even Restaurant Week dining establishments.

2. Topi claims to be the only solution that connects everyone at your event. People were downloading and using it, according to the Twitter stream (oh, there is integration with Twitter). Pluses to the platform: it enables you to direct your questions to the speaker/panelist/presenter, which he or she can answer IRL or later, and it also has the ability to generate surveys (“Which is better: Poncho or cat videos?”). You can even ask the presenter (privately) that NYTM no-no: What’s your business model?

3. Justworks enables businesses to easily manage payroll while offering large-company benefits and ensuring legal compliance. It takes 10 minutes to sign up, and costs $30/month for the first employee, then $5/month for each additional employee and when you have out-of-state employees/contractors and you factor in that there are over 5000 state and local tax issues to deal with, well, the company did act out a little play, complete with an angel and the devil and as we all know, the devil is in the details.

4. DoneNotDone is the to-do list for things you want to do, not the things you have to do, and they take fun seriously. So, you have your list of movies you’d like to see (not done) and through the platform, share with your friends. You get feedback on the movies, and maybe even find someone who hasn’t seen it yet and will go to see it with you. Done! And it’s not just limited to movies. There were step by step instructions for iPhone users in the room to download it immediately. Teeshirts for the first 20 downloads? Not Done.

5. Maxwell Health. Redefines and simplifies health care for businesses with a platform that simplifies benefits, reduces insurance costs and has a rewards system to help improve employees’ health. It’s also your virtual concierge: you go to the hospital emergency room and get some ridiculous bill for a simple procedure. Maxwell Health will look into the bill to help you get your costs reduced. Oh, and employees health records are not shared with employers, for the paranoid among us. Yes, , this was the second benefits startup of the evening, and the two are partnered up. Gotta love the NY Tech community.

6. One Month Rails.  Tired of waiting for that perfect tech co-founder to get your MVP started? Now you, too, can learn Rails in a month. This online resource makes it quick, simple and easy and enjoyable to learn, even if you’ve never written a line of code before in your life, ever. The platform will even let you hook up with a coding buddy, and there’s a dialogue box so that you can get help if/when you get stuck.

7. BikeWithFriends. It’s the gamification of Citibikes! Come on, this is New York. How long did you think it would take before an app like this would come along? BWF brings the competitive edge to Citibikes, one badge at a time. The app was developed by a handful of Flatiron School students started programming just nine weeks ago and ok, maybe the whole thing is illegal, but the badges are fun. Like the hipster badge, for biking in Williamsburg, supposed hipster capital of, well, at least Brooklyn. There are also special badges for wearing a helmet, riding the right way down the street, and riding on holidays (July 4th: a liberty badge). Citibike membership required. Compliance with the law always strongly recommended.

8. Kinograph is a project that came out of ITP and helps to save cultural memories – or old family films – with a DIY film scanner. 3-D printer once again played a part in the development of the hardware and for the record, when the King of Jordan comes to you asking you to, say, convert some films for him and asks you for a price, figure out your costs, then add a zero.

9. Crisis Text Line. The first 24/7 help line for teens available on the medium they use and trust most: texting. 911 receives emergency text messages from teens – but they didn’t have the tech to respond. I smell a quick and necessary acquisition…

10. NYC Votes is using the mobile web to revolutionize the voting experience for all 4.3 million registered voters in NYC by Election Day 2013. The informations there (and you just have a few more days to register, btw): important dates, candidates. You can even seamlessly donate to the candidate of your choice through the platform. And yes, you still must be a resident of NYC to be able to vote in elections here, last we checked.

The New York Tech Meetup rarely fails to amuse, enlighten, entertain, and even lead one to a download or two before the end of the night or shortly thereafter. Kudos as always, to Jessica Lawrence, a newly-returned Nate Westheimer, Brandon Diamond and the team. For now, good-bye and thanks for all the crudités!

For full coverage of tech events in New York, visit The Watch.

About the author: AlleyWatch

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