After the Storm

Techie Do-Gooders: How NYC Startups are Helping the Sandy Relief Effort

NYC startups spring into action.
 Techie Do Gooders: How NYC Startups are Helping the Sandy Relief Effort

Foursquare’s temporary HQ. (Photo: Twitter)

Given recent events, Betabeat decided to forego our Rumor Roundup this week for a roundup of all the things startups are doing to help get New York back to normal following Hurricane Sandy.

It didn’t take long for New York startups and techies to spring into action after Hurricane Sandy left parts of our fine city without power, water, shelter, or Wifi.

On Tuesday, we pointed you to New York Tech Meetup and New Work City’s attempts to mobilize tech-savvy volunteers to help local businesses and organizations get networks and websites up and running. Today, NYTM put out an official call to its 28,000 members, asking for more volunteers and taking requests (online or by phone/text 646-392-7353) from government agencies, small businesses, non-profits, and schools that need help anything from data recovery to Internet connectivity to getting servers back online.

Noel Hidalgo, one of the lead volunteers of that effort, has been manning an uber-useful Sandy Coworking map of offices space for displaced techies. And New Work City founder Tony Bacigalupo, has pretty much morphed into Silicon Alley’s Cory Booker

In fact, companies like Uber, which temporarily dropped surge pricing amid cries of price gouging but then quickly reinstated it–and Hotels.com have been the aberration. Most startups have lept at the chance to lend a hand and show off the tech scene’s self-professed collaborative spirit.

Here’s a roundup of yet more Sandy relief efforts spearheaded by the tech community:

No fee Airbnb From Oct. 31 to Nov. 7, Airbnb is waiving its fees for both renters and hosts on all properties located in areas hit by Hurricane Sandy, including NYC and Long Island. Travelers must stay for seven nights or fewer. We found a bunch of local hosts who dropped their rates to $10 a night, as a Sandy special.

Red Cross Tonight Hotel booking service Hotel Tonight is donating all money spent on hotels in NYC Thursday Nov. 1 and Friday Nov. 2 to the Red Cross.

screenshot 2012 11 01 22 35 41 Techie Do Gooders: How NYC Startups are Helping the Sandy Relief Effort

Zaarly’s pops up with a helping hand Peer-to-peer marketplace Zaarly launched an online pop-up shop that allows users to purchase local services for NYC residents in need. Examples include homemade meals from a local chef, pet sitting and renovations. All of the proceeds from the pop up shop will be donated to the Red Cross in New York City. “Based in San Francisco, folks at Zaarly wanted to help their friends in New York, but felt powerless,” a rep told Betabeat. “After batting ideas around late into Monday night, they realized they were no longer small and powerless. They could help their friends and enable others to do so too.”

What a Mitzvah! Yenta, the “Grindr for Jews,” has coordinated a bunch of relief efforts. The company has temporarily halted advertising and paid outreach in order to donate those proceeds to the Red Cross. Yenta is also inviting displaced New Yorkers to stop by their offices, where they’re collecting food and clothing donations for Sandy victims.

Later, late fees AT&T, Verzion and T-Mobile are both waiving late fees for customers impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and will continue to provide service to prepaid and contract customers, even if they haven’t been able to pay their bill. AT&T and T-Mobile have also been providing charging stations for New Yorkers affected by the blackout.

Tying the Knot Wedding startup The Knot created a Facebook page to help brides whose weddings were ruined or canceled by Hurricane Sandy. Affected couples are using the page to “share tips, find available venues and talk to local experts.” The page is also collecting the information of wedding venues and vendors in the area who did not suffer damage and are still able to host November weddings.

Time Warner does something good Much-maligned New York cable provider TimeWarner, known for pissing off every actor from Star Trek, has temporarily shrugged off its evil image with a hefty $1 million donation to Sandy relief efforts. According to a press release, “The company will donate $500,000 to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City with another $500,000 to be dispersed to other organizations that are serving victims in the greater Tri-State area.” They also deployed ten trucks downtown to act as charging stations with free Wifi.

Gilt City helps the city From Wednesday Oct. 31 to Sunday Nov. 4th, Gilt City NYC is donating 30 percent of all profits from sales on its NYC page to the Red Cross Hurricane Relief. The company has alerted all Gilt members of this opportunity in an email with the hopes of encouraging some philanthropic shopping.

Rubicon to the rescue Ecommerce platform AHAlife is also donating 15 percent of profits made from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4th to Team Rubicon, which links up military veterans with communities in need of rebuilding.

Squee! Stuffed animal startup Squishable released a limited edition Sandy Corgi, with $5 from every purchase from now until Sunday Nov. 4 going to the Red Cross. The corgi was so cute (see for yourself below) that it quickly sold out, so they extended the offer to the platypus squishable. So far, they’ve raised $1,460.

 Techie Do Gooders: How NYC Startups are Helping the Sandy Relief Effort

The adorable squishable corgi, which is sadly sold out. (Photo: Squishable)

Lucky us Community crowdfunding platform Lucky Ant is providing free crowdfunding for local businesses impacted by Sandy. The company has waived all fees for any local businesses wishing to use the platform to get themselves back up and running. Lucky Ant is also raising a fund with a goal of $50,000 or more that they will distribute to small businesses in need.

Buried bauble relief Online jewelry retailer Bauble Bar is hosting its weekly “Buried Bauble” special, where users use a clue to find a discounted piece of jewelry. This week, for every $10 buried bauble users purchase today, Bauble Bar will donate $10 to the Red Cross.

Fresh charity My Fresh Shirt, an online drycleaning service, has donated a year’s worth of free drycleaning for auction at Charitybuzz, a platform that allows users to host auctions for charity. So far, the current bid is up to $600, and all proceeds will go to the Red Cross.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com