Q&A

Brooklyn Coder Lauren McCarthy Wants To Cure Your Crippling Social Awkwardness

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In a world where your friends can now set you up on virtual blind dates, it’s hard to believe tech could be the solution to any uncomfortable situation.

Lauren McCarthy is a coder and an artist whose strange art experiments put subjects face to face with their deepest social anxieties. She might not be able to cure your crippling awkwardness — or her own, for that matter — but she has designed over two dozen tech-based performances to help you breathe a little easier, even if it just means making a quick getaway. Read More

NYC Disrupts Disruptors

Hiding In Plain Sight: What Airbnb Doesn’t Want You To Know About Their New Lobbyists

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A few hundred people sat in the summer heat in Central Park last night, waiting for tickets for the Public’s opening night of their production of “King Lear,” when they were approached by a young woman with a clipboard.

“Would you like to sign a petition saying you support Airbnb in New York City?” she asked, going one by one.

“Support what, exactly?” asked the first person she approached.

“Oh, you know, like the service Airbnb provides, and just what we’re doing,” she said, obviously lacking an aggressive, prepared script.

One by one people signed a petition saying they supported “AirbnbNYC,” and why not? The vague, upbeat language — asking for an endorsement without a clear mission statement — seemed entirely unobjectionable. Read More

Start-up School

HappyFunAcademy Teaches Liberal Arts Grads Front-End Web Development, Ends Their Happy Fun

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There’s a growing pool of high paying tech jobs and never enough decent talent to fill them. Here in New York City, if you majored in Psychology or Art History and aren’t thrilled with how that’s going financially — looking to pivot, as they say — you can attend one of many coding schools for a quick intensive. Now, there’s yet another school vying for NYC’s tech hopefuls.

HappyFunCorp, a real software engineering firm with real offices in Brooklyn, is opening a front-end coding school called HappyFunAcademy. The name doesn’t have the same maker-y vibe as General Assembly or Flatiron School, but HappyFunCorp is betting that its impressive list of clients and promise of hands-on experience will “up your command line game,” as their site says. Read More

Clean Tech

Techies Asked to Fix NYC’s Ancient Power Grid, Actual Rocket Scientists Needed

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In a dark conference hall lined with carafes dripping coffee unworthy of the name, a group of engineers, academics, brokers and analysts gathered around a dismal pile of spreadsheets. You wouldn’t think you were at Google’s New York headquarters, except that Google representatives were on standby to make sure no one ventured from the hall into the rest of the building.

Hefty stacks of NYC’s utility infrastructure data awaited them. This hackathon’s mission: to solve the problem of energy inefficiency in New York City. The event was a “Data Jam” — a fun and bouncy term for a big data hackathon — organized by energy data startup EnerKnol as a part of New York Energy Week. Read More

Startup Food Chain

Introduce Your Bowels to AccelFoods’ New Class of Hipster Snack Startups

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We can see how a group of startups giving a Williamsburg-style hipster update to muesli or making caramels out of coconuts might have trouble taking off at first. Luckily, companies with off-key ideas for the future of food are getting a helping hand from AccelFoods, a New York-based accelerator that focuses on food startups.

AccelFood debuted their new class of four startups today, including a mushroom tea startup (“become a funguy”) and Cocomels, which are the Vita CoCo of candy. The would-be disruptors will receive initial investments of up to $40,000, with up to $200,000 coming their way by graduation. Read More