The New York Tech Meetup was diverse this month. Not just the kind of diversity tech is notorious for not having – women, or people of color- but diverse in variety. There were startups in various phases, from MVP and seed funded to ones with millions of dollars in runway, courtesy of venture capital. As always,the New York Tech Meetup had a little bit of something for everyone.
Know Your Neighbor / MyT
Code Interactive is a non-profit that brings innovative technology to high school students in under served communities. Under their tutelage, two projects were presented: MyT and Know Your Neighbor. Know Your Neighbor was created from the students’ experiences living in a heavily immigrant community, where neighbors may share the same country of origin, but not much else. The app is meant to foster trust and goodwill.
And then there’s MyT, which stands for MyTranslator. As several students took turns explaining their apps’ features, it became apparent that the app adjusts to your education level, when translating several languages to English, or help finding a translator – even setting up meetings before actually hiring the person. An app that comes in handy during, say, a PTA meeting.
Before they exited the stage, Jessica Lawrence asked the high schoolers what resources they needed to advance their projects. Without missing a beat, one of the team leader’s responded with an answer that many an entrepreneur can relate to – investors.
Potential customers are apt to abandon forms for fear of being hounded by a sales team, thinking they’ll come back later to finish them, only to entirely forget to do so, according to ListenLoop founder Rodrigo Fuentes. ListenLoop aims to reintegrate fickle visitors into the sales funnel with ads re-targeting those visitors who behave like a qualified buyer, but don’t fill out lead generation forms.
With ListenLoop, companies are able to customize display ads through an email interface, and users see an average click-through-rate of 5%, and that rate can be as high as 15%. The technology integrates with a number of marketing apps.
Probably most surprising was the Lyft taking the stage. A lot more grizzled than other startups who normally premiere at New York Tech Meetup, the cab app nonetheless debuted changes, such as the new destination filter for drivers to be able to find hails close to home, and the ditching of the fuzzy moustache for the new and improved “glowstache,” a less woolly yet still incredibly neon pink successor.
Reassuring concerns for passenger safety,Lyft’s NYC Market Manager Seth Melnick addressed passengers’ concerns over security, citing the company’s practice of hiring an outside company to undertake full background checks on drivers.
Another relatively recent change is that now a company has the ability to give its employees Lyft credits, in what they’re calling Lyft for Work.
Having witnessed a communications rift in college, Ben Gutteman and Jonathon Jacbos started an agency called Digital Natives. Soon afterwards, they built out customizable content management systems to fit any single school district. This Whisper is a communications tool that easily lets school districts fulfill a number of their responsibilities, including student safety, with the integration of push notifications and mobile alerts. The goal is to help schools communicate better with their community, and consolidate redundant technologies, resulting in cost savings, according to the founders.
Whisper also lets users (and the community) share news, events, and files, as well as alerts.
They currently have three schools onboard right now.
Hack of the Month : investa_gator
Eric Schles is an Adjunct Professor at NYU and has dedicated much of his life to fighting human trafficking, both at his day job working with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Anti-Trafficking Unit and in his spare time, having created Investa_gator. Trafficking being a $32 billion industry with estimates of 20 to 30 million women being trafficked at any given time, investa_gator is a free tool aimed to take a bite out of the illegal trade by analyzing advertising for tell tale signs of the illicit trade.
Schles recognizes that education centers, reaching out to poor communities, and giving kids mentors would go a long way in stemming human trafficking. In the meantime, Investa_gator scrapes backpage, having succeeded with Craig’s Lists, which was formerly “crawling” with ads filled with trafficked women. Now it’s extremely hard to even post an ad that even seems remotely like trafficking. Hopefully, backpage will find itself in the same position as Craig’s List.
Leasebreak is like stubhub, “but instead of tickets, we got leases” said founder and CEO Phil Horigan. This latest real estate startup specializes in lease breaks and short term rentals. A godsend for people who need to get out of their lease quickly, such as in the case of someone who’s relocating for a career purposes.
The site recently came out of beta.
While the name sounds pretty charged, landlords will let you break a lease, as long as you find a qualified tenant. “When someone’s breaking their lease, they’re very motivated, and offer incentives.”
Leasebreak promotes itself as an honest, transparent real estate startup. Even though they do specialize in breaking leases and short-term rentals, they don’t list lease terms for less than 30 days, in order to steer clear of legal trouble. They list exact addresses for transparency. “Landlord approval is critical.We try to get landlord approval upfront, same with brokerage fee.” Posters are required to state whether there’s a broker fee. Even for apartments with brokerage fees, they’re low and can be negotiated.
Did you know that If you’ve been on a delayed or cancelled flight, or have been denied boarding and if any of these things have happened within the last three years, that you could be entitled up to $800 from the airline? Unfortunately for flyers packed like sardines in coach seats and given peanuts and ginger ale for sustenance airlines, have made it difficult to claim the restitution. With AirHelp, it literally takes three minutes, and they take care of the rest.
Your account page will show everything from the practical (how many miles you’ve flown), to the whimsical and factual (how much younger you are than people on Earth, due to Earth time dimensions). And you have three years to file your claim. “We’re proud to be hated by the leading airlines of the world,” said the AirHelp team -to rousing applause.
Kollecto is a service that lets you buy affordable collectible art, curated to suit your taste and budget. The art is requisitioned from a number of sources – everyone from Etsy to independent artists to galleries, depending on what the patrons are looking for. Users can indicate categories of art that they like and rate the pieces selected for them to better hone the selection process, create a smooth user experience, and it’s a lesson for entrepreneurs in resourcefulness, considering that founder Tara Reed inventively used a number of technologies, including the affable TypeForm and the workhorse, Campaign Monitor, to create the current MVP. Individual artists can email to have their work considered for the platform.
Founder John Foley and his wife were no strangers to boutique fitness and its plethora of high-energy instructors, personalization and visible results, when they asked themselves “Could we build a tech-enabled platform that would give users this experience?”
Peloton is an interactive bike with a 22” screen – 4x bigger than an iPad – and it’s waterproof, so you can sweat all over it without fear of damaging the unit. The screen displays health, stats along with the “best streaming fitness content in the world,” as well as a leaderboard.
Foley insisted that it’s not hyperbole when he says Peloton (which AlleyWatch has covered before) is the best bike ever built. In fact, the team built it from the ground up. Fitness classes are live-streamed from a Chelsea studio, not to far from their corporate headquarters.