Metro Tech

Last Night at New York Tech Meetup: You’ll Never Have An Excuse to Be Disorganized Again

Gorgeous Sunrise. (Photo: iTunes)

If there’s one takeaway from last night’s New York Tech Meetup, it’s that people’s organizational skills are only as good as the apps they use.

The first app of note to present was TeuxDeux, a “simple, designy to-do app” that wants to disrupt the world of lists. Presented by creator Tina Roth-Eisenberg (a.k.a @swissmiss to her 350,000+ followers), the app is an elegant, responsive and minimalist approach to organizing your day. Just enter the tasks you want to accomplish and mark them off as you complete them. However, if you miss a task, like doing laundry, it’s automatically transferred to the next day and on and on until its completed. (One person near us remarked that it’s “beautiful.”) The subscription-based app is currently only available for iPhones. Read More

Political Animals

New York Techies Want Campaign Finance Fixed

Paging Mr. Cuomo! (Photo: flickr.com/MTAphotos)

A coalition of techies say it’s time to do something about our campaign finance morass, and they’re starting with New York State. A veritable who’s who of Silicon Alley–including Fred Wilson, Andy Weissman, Dennis Crowley, John Borthwick, Kevin Ryan, and Esther Dyson–have released an open letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, urging him to take point on an effort to make the political process work a little more like Kickstarter or Github.

The problem, as they see it: “Today, elections in Albany are dominated by a small group of affluent campaign donors, professional influence-peddlers and deep-pocketed vested special interests.” Not to mention some of those state capital buildings are downright Politburo-back-deal chic. Read More

Fresh Capital

Picturelife’s Nate Westheimer Launches Red Bud Partners, a Seed Stage Fund for New York Startups

nate-westheimer

Serial entrepreneur Nate Westheimer is something of a renaissance technologist.

Picturelife, the photo startup he cofounded with OMGPOP founder Charles Forman, recently raised a $4 million round led by Spark Capital. Picturelife’s concept is timely: the service focuses on backing up, storing, and accessing all of your photos from the cloud. That got the attention of a number of other notable investors, including Crunchfund, Founder Collective, Lerer Ventures, Highline Venture Partners, Betaworks, David Karp, SV Angel, and Chris Dixon. Mr. Forman put some of the “way more” than $22 million he earned from OMGPOP’s sale to Zynga and former Zynga GM Nabeel Hyatt, a partner at Spark, joined Picturelife’s board. Read More

Hacking the Hurricane

An Inside Look at How New York’s Masters of Disruptions Stepped Up to Help with Hurricane Relief

The scene at Secret Clubhouse. (Photo: Tumblr)

Late last week, Betabeat took a two-hour trip via interborough bus to Secret Clubhouse, a newly launched Williamsburg coworking spot. The shared office (decorated with vintage Apples and a motley assortment of posters) was packed with techies typing away on the laptops, but the vibe was no more panicked than that of an undergraduate library in the earliest days of reading period.

Nearby, permanent residents Small Girls PR were hashing out wardrobing details for the upcoming “Tech Homecoming” fundraiser and upending their desks in search of a missing checkbook. The occasional burst of laughter filtered from the back, and every so often someone would look up with a piece of news gleaned from Twitter. But quiet largely reigned.

The only obvious sign of extraordinary circumstances was a sign on the wall, handwritten grade-school-binder style: “Sandy Shelter,” it said, with a Wifi login and the message of support, “we <3 u.” Read More

After the Storm

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

Screenshot_2012-11-01-22-35-41

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 BookerRead More

Frankenstorm

NY Tech Meetup and and New Work City Galvanize Tech-Savvy Volunteers for Sandy Aftermath

(Photo: @Marissa)

Many businesses and organizations in New York are suffering without electricity following yesterday’s devastating hit from Hurricane Sandy. With electrical and tech equipment down across the city, there’s a need for capable engineers to help get New Yorkers back to being plugged in. Today, the New York Tech Meetup and New Work City published a sign-up form for volunteers hoping to use their tech skills to help out a neighbor.

“NY Tech Meetup and New Work City are organizing volunteers with technology skills to help New York-area businesses, payday loan lenders and organizations get their technology back up and running after Hurricane Sandy,” reads the signup form. The team is currently organizing a database of willing volunteers and then will decide from there how to allocate help. Read More

Talent Wars

Schumer Courts Tech Scene with BRAINS Act to Help Startups Hire Foreign-Born Workers

Senator Schumer, with David Tisch and Jessica Lawrence at his side.

Today, Senator Charles Schumer popped up to New York City for a visit to General Assembly and an announcement: Tomorrow he plans to introduce new legislation to the Senate–the snappily-named BRAINS Act–in an attempt to help alleviate the tech talent crunch by making it easier for startups to hire foreign-born workers.

“The bill will fix America’s broken high-skilled immigration problem,” he promised, by providing 55,000 new green cards available annually for foreign students graduating from US universities with advanced STEM degrees.

Everywhere he goes, said Senator Schumer, business leaders cite the lack of technical talent as their number one challenge. “With the introduction and hopefully the passage of the BRAINS Act, we’re going to move closer to ensuring a more vibrant future for Americans not even born yet,” he promised. Read More

Doctor Disruption

Clear Health Costs Wants to Save You From Medical Sticker Shock

Ms. Pinder at Women's Demo Night. (Photo: Erica Schwiegershausen)

Ever opened a letter from a doctor to discover an unexpectedly, eye-poppingly enormous bill? Well, one New York startup wants to make sure that never happens again, by providing a platform that allows the average medical consumer to compare prices.

It’s a concept that ought to appeal to anyone in a position to be cost conscious–whether uninsured, out of network, stuck with a high deductible plan, or just plain offended by overpaying.

Betabeat first encountered Clear Health Costs at the Women’s Demo Night organized by New York Tech Meetup last month. In advance of the company’s debut on the mainstage at tonight’s meetup, Betabeat asked founder and CEO Jeanne Pinder to tell us a little more.

Appropriately, it all began with a dire case of sticker shock. “I got a bill once from a hospital that included a charge for $1,419 for a drug that I found I could buy online for $2.47,” she told Betabeat. Read More