More and more the New York Tech Meetup is featuring sophisticated demos from graduates from local accelerators.
At the June demo night, held this week, some recently-minted alumni of Techstars NYC and the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator presented their technology along with other fledgling idea makers—including a few actual comedians.
This monthly gathering has always been a chance for somewhat scrappy teams of developers to demo software, hardware, and hacks they cooked up. (Anyone remember the Emergency Zack Morris app?) And while the hasty, work-in-progress feel of some of the tech has far from vanished, there is also a growing sense of sophistication and long-term expectations from other presenters on stage.
The increasing presence of accelerator grads at the event is notable because of the long-standing “house rule” to refrain from asking NYTM demoers, while they are on stage, what their business model is. The intent of the meetup, as executive director Jessica Lawrence gently reminds the audience each month, is to focus on the technology. But with some of the more recent presenters, it is possible see what their strategy probably is; it may even be stated during the demo. That is especially true among accelerator grads, who are actively trying to prove they do have a plan to build a business.
The June event included some chuckles though, particularly from a segment that featured four winning teams from last month’s Comedy Hack Day. The hackathon puts together comedians and developers to create humorous, and cleverly satirical in the case of Feminize It, apps and Web services (see slideshow).
Jokes aside, there were business ideas among the demos. That included Bentobox, which graduated in April from Techstars NYC. CEO and co-founder Krystle Mobayeni said Bentobox is a platform used by restaurants to manage their online presence, especially for mobile, and related operations. This includes, she said, making restaurant addresses clickable to Google Maps and menus easier to access and read on smartphones and tablets. “We give restaurants tools to make money from their websites,” Mobayeni said, through booking private events, catering, and selling gifts cards.
Another presenter at New York Tech Meetup was Bunchcut’s CEO and co-founder Nat du Preez, who graduated in April from ERA. Bunchcut is a collaboration and productivity software tool that lets teams choose and manage images and other visual content they want to use. For example, a marketer at a brand could upload images to a dashboard, then add other people to vote on the content. “It helps decision makers determine very quickly which image has risen to the top,” du Preez said.
This latest demo event was not the first time teams from accelerators brought their acts to this stage. Other Techstars grads, such as DataCamp and Dash previously demoed at the meetup. ERA-alum Admittedly made an appearance last year.
NYTM sees its share of demoers who are on the path to scaling up. Foursquare and Tumblr both debuted through the meetup. Citymaps and other startups that raised funding without joining accelerators have also demoed here.
And seeing the business gears at turning behind the technology is not necessarily a bad thing. NYTM has been around for some 10 years now; it should keep evolving to reflect the local tech scene, which is in the midst of its own form of puberty.