There is a bit of real world thinking happening at Techstars NYC.
Last Thursday, the latest class of startups from the accelerator held a demo day. A nonprofit determined to get laptops to more kids and the influence of the so-called “Maker Movement” surfaced amid the software-focused startups. Techstars runs a separate program with R/GA dedicated to connected devices, so it was interesting to see a few ideas for the physical world in this New York class.
Here’s the rundown of the graduates:
Codestarter — Puts laptops in the hands of kids in educational programs where they can learn how to code.
Concert Window — An online music venue that lets musicians broadcast live performances to generate revenue and connect with new fans.
Hullabalu — Develops apps that feature interactive stories for kids.
Infinit — An app that lets users quickly send and share files of unlimited size.
Lynxsy — Mobile platform for hiring junior staff on demand, particularly recent grads looking for non-tech roles at startups.
MakersKit — Sells kits that do-it-yourselfers can use for projects such as growing herbs and making lip balm, soap, or candles.
Matter.io — Creating a 3D printing, manufacturing service that designers and other creative businesses can use to make products on demand.
Pathgather — A social learning and collaboration system for employees at enterprises.
RivalTheory — Developing artificial intelligence for digital characters that learn and interact with users across different games and apps.
SocialSign.in — Helps businesses learn about customers and share marketing messages when they use guest Wi-Fi networks.
Standard Analytics — A way to publish scientific research as linked data, with programming code and media, which is accessible through an application programming interface (API.)
Tutum — A cloud computing service and dashboard for monitoring, managing, and running apps.
With its production based in Los Angeles, the MakersKit team said they want to be part of the Maker Movement by selling materials people can use to explore their creative sides. The startup also offers instructional videos online to help people get started. In addition to partnerships with online and brick-and-mortar retailers, MakersKit co-founder Jawn McQuade told me that coming to New York helped the team land some introductions in the media industry. “Just from being here for three months, we’ve had meetings with Comcast, Warner Bros., and A&E for their new network,” he said.
MakersKit plans to maintain a presence in New York, he said, to cultivate those connections. “It is way easier to get things done here,” McQuade said. “To focus on media anywhere else makes absolutely no sense, none at all.”
Not all the startups in this class plan to stick around in New York, though. Codestarter CEO Theresa Preston-Werner, for instance, told me her team will return to San Francisco. Codestarter is the first-ever nonprofit accepted into any Techstars class, and its objective is to get students, especially the underprivileged, better access to computer hardware and training.
Preston-Werner said her team partners with groups such as camps that provide instruction in coding. Some organizations, she said, may require students to supply their own laptops to participate. That means kids who cannot afford laptops could miss out on such classes. Codestarter, Preston-Werner believes, can help introduce new segments of the population to programming. “If we’re able to provide the hardware, kids from all different areas will be able to participate,” she said.
João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @jpruth.