Meetups

Tug of War, Cat Photoshoots and the Aereo Lawsuit at Last Night’s Queens Tech Meetup

Queens elbows its way into the tech scene with a second meetup.
img 0264 Tug of War, Cat Photoshoots and the Aereo Lawsuit at Last Night’s Queens Tech Meetup

Guests mingle on a Long Island City rooftop before demos begin

More than 150 people braved last night’s land hurricane–technically called a derecho–to attend Coalition for Queens’ second Queens Tech Meetup at Hunters Point Plaza in Long Island City.

Unfortunately, the crowd of young professionals was only able to enjoy rooftop views of the Manhattan skyline for a short while before the clouds came rolling in. Thankfully, the demos inside provided plenty of amusement, including a tug-of-war match and a feline photo shoot for mycatandi.com.

Charlie O’Donnell, a partner at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures and the event’s first demonstrator, was astounded by the turnout of the meetup.

“I think I probably went to the fifth or sixth New York Tech Meetup and we were a whopping 30 people,” Mr. O’Donnell told the audience. “Now I look at like five times the amount of people in the room at the second Queens Tech Meetup and it’s really unbelievable.”

Mr. O’Donnell spoke about his outlook on the future of the tech scene in New York and how he sees Queens fitting into it.

“A couple of years from now you’re going to be able to walk across the bridge and go to one of the preeminent engineering and applied sciences school in the country and the only place you can walk to from there is Queens,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “Obviously this is a transportation hub; it’s actually one of the few places that is convenient to get to via the G train.”

Last night’s event also included demonstrations from Skillshare, OKFocus and Aereo.

Leighann Farrelly, community development manager at Skillshare, an online learning marketplace, shared a free lesson in teamwork with the audience through a tug of war match. But she also shared news about Skillshare’s collaboration plans with Coalition for Queens to provide affordable, high-quality tech education in areas such as computer programming, digital marketing and entrepreneurship on CUNY campuses in Queens.

“We’re starting to see people in need of tech skills, and if you go through the traditional education spectrum, they’re super expensive and not that accessible,” Ms. Farrelly explained. “We have the same mission as Coalition for Queens, which is that we need to provide people with more opportunities to be a bigger part of the New York tech scene.”

OKFocus, a full service digital agency run by Ryder Ripps and Jonathan Vingiano that’s notorious for PR stunts like that fake Kanye West site, was also in attendance. They demoed a new website called My Cat and I that detects cats in photos. The team explained that the site demonstrates OKFocus’ goal to create concept-driven work that stands out in function and design. Plus, the Internet’s affection for cats is well-documented.

Finally, it was Aereo’s turn. Nick Sallon, the startup’s director of content and business development, and Chris Mckay, Aereo’s customer service manager were both on hand to demo the subscription service that enables New York City residents to view locally broadcasted television streamed online. Aereo, introduced by Coalition for Queens founder Jukay Hsu as “a TV platform so disruptive everyone’s suing it,” recently won a dismissal of injunction brought against it in a lawsuit by 17 broadcasters including ABC, NBC and CBS.

A few months ago, Aereo’s CEO Chet Kanojia demoed his service to a packed house at the New York Tech Meetup in Manhattan, eliciting a roar of wild applause.

In Queens, the Aereo team showcased the service’s features and carefully addressed questions from the audience concerning the lawsuit. While they declined to provide much insight on the legal battle, Aereo’s representatives told the audience that the startup is considering plans for growth because of its recent lawsuit win. However, they haven’t yet decided which cities will be included in its expansion.

We just hope it’s not Kansas City, since getting Google Fiber first has undoubtedly spoiled them.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated that Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia was present at the Queens Tech Meetup and demoed the service. Betabeat regrets the error.