Taap.it Makes the Rounds in the New York Startup Trenches

8/8/11Follow @jpruth

New York’s evolving startup community offers a bevy of forums for fledgling companies to pitch their ideas to potential investors and collaborators. Duy Huynh, CEO and co-founder of startup Taap.it, has been to a menagerie of such events this summer, including the New York Venture Summit, NY Tech Meetup, and the NY Entrepreneurs Business Network. Huynh says he seeks these gatherings not only to get the word out about his company but to hear feedback on his plans. “One of the priorities for us over the past two months is we try to be at as many events as possible,” he says.

Five-month-old Taap.it lets users post classified ads for products they want to sell locally. The app is available on Android devices and the iPhone, and the listings are on the Web, as well.. Users can take photos with smartphones of the products and upload them to the ads. Listings for apartments and jobs can also be posted. Rivals such as Milo.com in San Jose, CA provide similar services.

Taap.it has attracted businesses users that list their wares and services, including real estate brokerages Bond New York and Exit Kingdom Reality, retailer Harlem’s Heaven Hat Boutique, and restaurants such as T.S. Ma and Mellie’s Seafood Restaurant. But like so many others in the New York tech community, Taap.it needs to raise money, hence Huynh’s tour of the tech-events landscape. His experience has given the entrepreneur some perspective on what works and what doesn’t.

Huynh, a native of Vietnam, says the local ecosystem continues to offer new opportunities for young companies such as his to grow. “This is a great time to be in New York,” he says. “If you go to a coffee shop, hotel, or Meet Ups, you hear lot of people talking about new ideas for mobile apps.”

Though the atmosphere is generally positive, talk in the local startup community is not all about pots of gold at the end of rainbows. For example, Huynh says candid critiques from the panel of investors at the NYEBN startup pitch event on July 28 may have intimidated some of the presenters, but he saw it as an opportunity to sharpen his ideas.

Huynh said so far the TechCrunch Disrupt New York event in May offered the most immediately helpful guidance. At the TechCrunch event Taap.it was known as Social Listing and had just launched from beta. “The most common feedback was on the name; it sounded like a dating site,” Huynh says. Huynh and his colleagues picked a new name soon after that to avoid further confusion.

Though the city already offers a mix of gatherings to for startups to show demos and connect with potential partners, Huynh would like to see more interaction for certain members of the tech community. “The one kind of event that I think is missing in New York is a group for coders and programmers,” he says. “I haven’t seen that much in New York.”

Huynh speaks from personal experience on how that kind of interaction can help germinate ideas. He and Taap.it’s three other co-founders have been friends since middle school and eventually learned programming together. Though their lives followed different paths over time, Huynh says they regrouped and pooled their experience to create what is now Taap.it in March. “We missed the old days of coding together,” he says.

Duy Huynh says now is a great time for startups to grow in New York.

So far Taap.it is bootstrapped, though Huynh says the company is in talks to close on outside funding. Taap.it has a staff of 20 with plans to grow its ranks after securing financing.

Huynh says Taap.it is reaching out to the college community, offering a way for students to find textbooks and other products they need for the rapidly approaching semester. “We want Taap.it to be an app that a lot of college students use for what ever they want,” he says. The company is also developing features to allow payments through the app for products at local stores, which he hopes to have ready by October, in time for the holiday shopping season, “After you make the purchase you can walk into the store and pick it up right away,” Huynh says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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