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Guest Post

Diversity

Breaking the Digital Glass Ceiling as a Young Black Woman in Tech

Ms. Allen.

Nicole Allen is consultant at Brooklyn-based Wireless Generation, an education technology innovator. She’s worked in the private and public sectors and she is also a co-founder of Tiffany Allen Reed Scholarship Foundation, a North Carolina foundation focused on helping young women overcome financial barriers to college.

By the time I entered high school in Greensboro, North Carolina in the late nineties, I was already being encouraged to do more with the math and science potential I’d shown in middle school. I was directed into a specialized public school focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, a far less common option for girls not that many years before.

Yet, even while I was being steered toward a “tech” future, and ostensibly breaking boundaries, I still had no idea what that future could look like, or where to turn to find out. This could be true for any young student with math and science talent, but for a young woman of color there were few mentors and even fewer role models. And this has not significantly changed. Read More

Internet Wants to Be Free

A Telecom-Independent Internet, Tested at Occupy Wall Street, for Just $2,000

freedom-tower

This is a guest post from Cole Stryker, a writer and publicist working in New York. It is an excerpt from his book, “Identity Wars: Online Anonymity, Privacy and Control,” which is slated for a September release from Overlook Press.

On March 27, 2012 I had the opportunity to attend a private screening of a mini-documentary called “Free the Network,” produced by Vice’s tech site, Motherboard.tv. The documentary opens at Occupy Wall Street, first depicted as a wacky, disparate band of activists which developed a curious techno-centric bent with the arrival of Anonymous, along with a more or less disorganized faction of hackers who wished to bring about social revolution through technology. The film centers on one of them, a 21-year old college dropout named Isaac Wilder, the executive director of the Free Network Foundation.

Mr. Wilder builds communications systems based around Freedom Towers, DIY kits that fit in a suitcase containing everything one would need to set up an ad hoc peer to peer network. The instructions are simple: “Plug it in. Press the big green button.” It creates a local network that stays up no matter what happens to the wider global Internet. All of this is mostly funded through private donations from family, friends, and fellow revolutionaries. Mr. Wilder estimates that the equipment required to assemble a Freedom Tower would have cost over $10,000 as recent as five years ago. Today: $2,000. And it’s completely grid-independent. That means solar powered batteries, a DC power system, a server, a router and a suite of powerful software, all contained in a suitcase. Read More

Venture Capitalism

How VCs Can Accelerate Portfolio Company Returns

Mr. Teten

This guest post was written by David Teten, Koen Bremer, Gyorgy Buslig, and Adham Hussein. David is a Partner with ff Venture Capital and Founder and Chairman of Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of Greater New York.  Koen, Gyorgy, and Adham are all Columbia Business School MBA 2012 students and former consultants with McKinsey and BCG.

Even the best VCs and entrepreneurs have a painfully high failure rate.  Lowering that failure rate would be highly impactful on venture capitalist returns, if we could figure out how to do it.  In addition, in light of increasing competition in the startup funding space, a methodology  for helping portfolio companies consistently is a strong competitive advantage. Read More

Metablogging

The Unreasonable Application

Mr. Phoenix.

Jordan Phoenix is a personal development coach and social entrepreneur in New York City. He is the director and founder of Project Free World. 

What’s the most unreasonable thing you’ve ever tried to do?

According to best-selling author Tim Ferriss, shooting for unrealistic goals is the best way to go. He believes the competition is much less fierce that way, as only a small handful of souls will actually be brave enough to believe that they are capable of achieving such feats.

For the past 72 hours, I have been racing the clock to complete an “Unreasonable Challenge” of my own.

You see, this very article that you are reading right now is part of my application process for a chance to join the Unreasonable Institute team in Boulder, Colorado. They are an international startup accelerator that essentially provides high-impact entrepreneurs with everything they need to turn good ideas into highly successful, socially conscious enterprises. Read More

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Startup

New York Tech, as Seen by an Antipreneur

Mr. Yehia. (Twitter)

Mo Yehia is co-founder of Sqoot, a daily deal API that helps publishers monetize. He’s lesser known for stints at Sparkle Buggy Car Wash, Cracker Barrel, and Lehman Brothers. He’s kind of a big deal.

It finally hit me: “I drive a Beemer but make less than a McDonald’s manager (hourly), my hair is thinning, sunlight hurts my eyes, and my Mom says I’ve become an asshole.” It was time to leave. I grew a pair and left my job on Wall Street, scared shitless of what was to come. I moved as far from New York City as possible and spent the next year unlearning everything it taught me. I was so brainwashed by my Vineyard Vines-wearing peers (when is a sperm whale on your belt ever OK?), that I didn’t know what I wanted anymore or where to start. From the outside looking in, entrepreneurship was as foreign as Japanese.

Through a series of random, cosmic events (and mind-boggling hustle), I met Andrew Warner in Buenos Aires, Avand Amiri in Boulder, Chris Stanchak in Philly, and Aniq Rahman in New York City. I wanted to be like them. So, for the next six months, I drank the proverbial Kool-Aid and marinated in just about everything startup. I moved back to New York, finagled my way into the tech scene, shook hands, kissed babies, and promptly began a strict three-pronged regiment to combat my hair loss.

It took six years for the novelty of Wall Street to wear off, and six weeks for the uncertainty of startup life to wear on. Without further adieu: a rant on the transition into and observations of NYC tech. Warning, this is my first post, anywhere, ever. Read More

Bridging the Gap

Corporations Want To Be Lean Startups Too

lsm-corporate

This is a guest post by Trevor Owens, founder and CEO of  the Lean Startup Machine, a three-day workshop on Lean Startup methodologies. Mr. Owens has also been a guest speaker at Princeton, Columbia, Fordham, and New York University.

The implications of the Lean Startup movement have been significant for entrepreneurs all over the world. At long last, founders are spending less time building products in isolation, and more time embracing their customers. Validating assumptions early and methodically has allowed entrepreneurs to fail fast, turning startup failure into a scientific process that ultimately leads to success. This movement, however, may have even bigger implications in store for established companies. Lean Startup isn’t about being cheap, but about being less wasteful and still doing things that are big.”

Can Corporations Be Startups Too? Read More

Monetize This

Apptopia, Set for a Post-SXSW Launch, Is an Exit Strategy for Unprepared Developers

The Apptopia office.

This is a guest post by Brady Donnelly, an editor at Fueled, a New York-based mobile design and development agency. Follow him on Twitter at @bradydonnelly and email him at brady@fueled.com.

Jonathan Kay and Eli Sapir, cofounders of the soon-to-be-launched app market Apptopia, have a problem with App Store over-saturation. “It’s quite inefficient for us to see 216 flashlight apps when it’s one of the single most simple functions on the entire App Store,” Mr. Kay said. “You also have big Fortune 500 companies spending upwards of $100,000 to build apps that mostly already exist. Why not acquire an app for $20,000, build off of that technology, and save yourself nearly 30 to 40 percent of the cost?”

The solution they’ve created is a marketplace, set to open shortly after SXSW, that allows developers to sell what Mr. Kay described as “exclusive rights” – not just code, but App Store-listed apps in their entirety, including existing revenue, users, and App Store statistics. Read More

Love in the Time of Algorithms

Why Dating Sites Lie About Algorithms, As Told By a Dating Site CEO

Mr. Furmansky.

Many current online dating sites have found an ingenious way of defending their price points or differentiating themselves from competitors: The Hidden Algorithm, The Secret Matchmaking Analytics, or the Dr. [Insert Foreign-sounding Name]‘s Guaranteed Personality Test. From a marketing perspective, the concept is brilliant – a claim that can neither be proven nor disproven. Yet in reality, these algorithms do not add any measurable probability of success. Does the fact that Person A likes fishing and Person B likes sushi mean they are meant to be? Or is this just a matter of statistically insignificant correlation rather than causality? Read More

Blackout Day

Education Is the Web’s Anti-Drug! Meet ExplainSOPA.com

aaron harris

This is a guest post by Aaron Harris, CEO and co-founder of Tutorspree.

After finding myself explaining SOPA and PIPA to my parents and to my girlfriend over the weekend, I realized that, while the tech community has done a good job firing itself up – we have not done enough to educate people outside of our sphere. When it comes down to it, that constituency is the one you really need to sway Congress. If we stay within our own echo chamber we’ll lose to the force of the MPAA/RIAA and their associated lobbies. Read More

Love in the Time of Algorithms

Online Dating Isn’t a Failure, It’s Just That It’s Harder to Find Love These Days

Mr. Schildkrout.

Aaron Schildkrout is the co-founder and co-CEO of HowAboutWe.com—a dating site that’s all about actually getting offline on real dates. Yesterday he got word of the first HowAboutWe wedding.

Adrianne Jeffries of Betabeat pinged me yesterday with a link to a post from Philip Greenspun titled, “Is this continued existence of involuntarily single people proof that online dating is a failure?

STC (Save the Click): Here’s a summary of Greenspun’s piece: He argues that, given the falling rates of marriage over the past few decades and the continued plethora of single people who want to be married, online dating is a de facto failure. He believes that self-description in online dating should be abandoned for more of a peer-testimony system. His evidence is some census data about marriage rates and the success of a lengthy testimony he wrote on behalf of a now-married friend. The whole thing is framed in opposition to the claims of a pro-online-dating “26-year-old” guy who Greenspun met at a Hanukkah Party (“suspiciously held on Christmas Eve”). Read More