Start-Ups

What You Missed at General Assembly Demo Night

general assembly demos1 What You Missed at General Assembly Demo Night

You are TV.

The night started off, as you’d expect, with some hefty networking as founders, investors, members of the General Assembly and other curious parties milled around in advance of the first public demo night since New York’s spiffiest co-working space opened in December. Scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., MC Alexis Ohanian (Reddit, Breadpig, Hipmunk, East Coast Y Combinator Ambassador extraordinaire) didn’t get the demo party started until after 7 p.m., fifteen minutes after the lights first dimmed.

The chipper founder was in a boostery mood. Good design makes things suck less, Mr. Ohanian told the Assembly, and New York knows design!

There were nine start-ups, all GA members, slated to present “something new” in a five minute demo with a five minute Q and A. Here’s what you missed:

SkillSlate. A marketplace where skilled professionals and small businesses connect with local consumers. Need a personal chef to cook dinner in your kitchen for you and five friends? There are 26 personal chefs listed on SkillSlate in New York, along with 391 carpenters, 297 personal trainers and 283 dog walkers. Consumers create a “job ticket” for what they’re looking for and the professionals bid on the job. Everything is publicly-viewable, so pros can see what others have bid, making it competitive.

MovableInk. Dynamic content for email, perhaps the most-lauded, anecodotally, by post-event minglers. Imagine daily deal emails that tick down time left, update as your friends buy the deal, and switch out photos based on real-time analytics of what content is most likely to produce clicks.

WingTipIt. An online “closet” of clothes, accessories, and products you collect from the site and across the web, with features for social sharing and feedback from friends on what to buy. The audience’s attention visibly waned as the co-founders presented, due in part to their self-deprecating caveat that the room full of men would likely find it less interesting because men don’t like shopping, although later they noted that the site “makes men seem like heros when they buy something the female likes.” The site has more than 100 relationships with retailers who put content on it and push the service to their own customers; plus, it’s “very viral in itself.” Reminds us of Fashism, another GA start-up, and GoTryItOn.

Easel. This edtech start-up demo’ed an online white board that records video and audio as you use a simple graphical interface to teach a lesson. “As people participate we figure out what is the best content,” founder San Kim said. (The non-profit, video-based lesson site Khan Academy was an inspiration.)

As Easel closed and Opani set up, Mr. Ohanian polled the audience. “Anyone thinking abotu going west?” he asked, then shunned the handful of audience members who affirmed. “Any city that closes at 1:30 just sucks,” he said. “I can’t encourage you enough to keep staying in New York.” This from the YC liaison.

Opani. For $5 a month plus computing costs, Opani lets developers order up data analysis in the coding languages they already know (Python, R). The pricing plan is tentative and founder Ryan Witt asks the audience for feedback per Mr. Ohanian’s “ask the audience” a question rule for the Q and A portion. Audience seems okay with it, although one questioner was concerned about what would happen if he wrote a janky app that ran off the rails and started racking up cloud computing costs. We shut it down when there’s been inactivity, Mr. Witt said.

Clipik. Another start-up that strikes Betabeat as a niche Odesk, Clipik lets users order up simple video editing from freelancers and students, conducted entirely through the web. “You shoot, we edit.”

Jibe. Social recruiting! Jibe requires a Facebook or LinkedIn login for anyone applying to a job, and then shows job seekers who they know at the company they’re applying to–say, Bank of America–and gives them the option to list those employees as references or ask them for recommendations. The site has gotten more than 200 people hired at big companies since January and has had 150,000 users register through Facebook or LinkedIn. A member of the audience had one question: “Why would I want one of those jobs?” Mr. Ohanian was an exemplary Pizza Hut waiter at one point, he shared, and his boss was always asking him if he had friends who needed work. And “like six of them got hired.” Social recommendations are weirdly important in hiring.

Shoutem. A simple iOS and Android mobile app builder with a suave-looking superhero mascot, Mobilizer, which Mr. Ohanian was very taken with. The service allows for adding standard features–wall, badges, check-in–to your mobile apps, and for easy updating of said apps.

YouAre.TV. The funnest demo of the evening. YouAre.TV is a pivot by the now-defunct CollegeOnly, which died of hype, and founder Josh Weinstein took the stage to ask the audience to reimagine everything as if it had been designed after the internet. What would television be like? In Mr. Weinstein’s mind, it’s a trippy interactive game show that puts anyone with a webcam into the game. With a few bumps, Mr. Weinstein successfully pulled up the app on the projector and disappeared into a back room as low-quality audio echoed through the Assembly and the audience scratched its heads. It was almost Dadaist. Mr. Ohanian was the guest on the demo game show, and won “a server” for correctly guessing the day after Thursday and before Saturday.

Once the demo was over, Mr. Weinstein asked the audience why they don’t watch TV. Because it’s not interactive, one audience member answered. Because I don’t like commercials, another said. What do you want from TV? Mr. Weinstein asked. “Quality, unlike what I just saw,” one member of the audience said, drawing big laughs. Mr. Weinstein handled the hater gracefully. “I thought that was a great demo,” Mr. Ohanian said as he closed the night. Betabeat liked it too.

ga demo night What You Missed at General Assembly Demo Night

The event wrapped around 8:45 p.m. Betabeat congratulated General Assembly co-founder Matt Brimer on the packed house and smooth event. Would the format be the same next time, with nine demos? we asked. “Maybe a few less,” he said.

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com