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Sanford Dickert Archive
This weekend, I was reconnected with a company that I met during my September Seedcamp visit in London who, as many other companies in the “group communication” space have before, asked to catch up to discuss some of the successes we had experienced at eGroups during our growth phase.
I promised to catch up when he was here in NYC, and we recently sat down with him to discuss some of the issues that I believed are important to a group manager and how to frame the product discussion if they were trying to find their growth.
After the first deep dive, I realized that David (the CEO of GroupSpaces) really had a functional handle on the product. Both he and his co-founder were group organizers back in uni (British for “college”) and were frustrated with Google Groups, Yahoo! Groups and even Facebook event management. So, four years ago – they started building GroupSpaces and started addressing their own needs. Just the two of them – and they began to build out an incredibly robust platform for group managers. So he showed me the product in its current form.
I was honestly blown away.
I am not kidding – after running numerous groups and having to connect and coordinate different platforms and datafeeds between bulk-email providers, my membership roles, event planning tools, creating subgroups with specific permissions (meaning I would have to have special sub groups on the Google or Yahoo platforms) – when I started diving into GroupSpaces, I realized I am moving off of Google and Yahoo! Groups for any of my active groups.
Last night, the nexyNY Digital crowd got a chance to converse with members of the Fourth Estate (or me, depending on their poor fortune). Charlie O’Donnell put together the “Meet the Startups” touting “100 CEOs and founders of NY Tech Startups in one room“. Since I was not representing a tech company this time around, I went as a stringer blogger to gather some info and names of new companies that deserve some visibility.
To start off with, I must thank all who spoke with me and gave me a short 30 second pitch – and will list them below. I also asked two questions, based on the recent discussion on tech companies and product managers in NYC brought up by Fred Wilson at the Clickable Cafe from a couple of weeks ago.
It was asserted that there is a dearth of “product managers” in New York City and a growth of this community (and skill set) would be a positive indicator of NY Tech growth. So, aside from meeting the founders – I asked about their tech staff and their “product management” staff.
Requisite Company Mentions
As promised, I wanted to mention the companies I met last night. All were excellent discussions – albeit incredibly fast…
- Market Publique – online market place for vintage clothing (must be at least 20 years old)
- MyItThings – online user-generated fashion magazine
- Mobile Commons – SMS/telephone advocacy tools
- UpSkil.com – a new career education site (cheaper but better than UoP)
- foursquare – mobile, location-based notification and community tool
- centrl – mobile, location- and social-network-based community tool
- boomerater – user-generated portal/magazine for baby-boomers into a number of vericals
- Funnel Scope – travel search engine with twitter API connection to converse with friends on trip decisions
- Asian in NY – a “craigslist for Asian community members” or a gumtree in the US for the Asian community
- Kidmondo – online baby journals
- cookstr – online receipes
- MeetingWave – faciliatating connecting in person with your contacts (Meetup meets LinkedIn)
- Convos – one-stop group communication and management platform
- OMGPOP – online multi-player games for teens
- Unigo – online publisher using student-generated content on universities
- Gate Guru – iPhone app for information on airports (similar to SeatGuru for airplanes)
- SquareSpace – SaaS web CMS with extensive tools
- kgb_web – an upcoming “Pandora for Content” – recommendation engine for all forms of content (with many other incarnations)
- Instinctiv – a smart-phone music player with stronger recommendation tools by tracking your on-device actions (e.g. skip, fast-forward, etc)
- Stratus Security – API access management and billing toolset
So, Miko Mercer’s tweet led me to a couple of posts by Chris Dixon (New York City is poised for a tech revival) and Fred Wilson (The NY Startup Scene) and the ever running discussion on how the NYC Tech scene could be the epicenter of the next tech boom.
Sorry, but I think we have some issues that STILL need to be addressed – and I could say that green shoots are still growing in the concrete sidewalks that makeup NYC.
Last year in December, when we were having the New York Tech Meetup Organizer election, I spent a couple of weekends drafting my thoughts on the success of various epicenters and how NYC fared on them. Borrowing from a friend (Mike Lewis) and an old EE software program, I came up with a SPICES metric:
Appropriately priced, appropriately equipped, easy access to transport for talented tech workers
Where people can congregate, get noticed, increase awareness beyond their small community
The actual stuff that is used for performing technology acts – power, telecoms, hardware (or virtual hardware in software’s case), facilities for manufacturing and research
Money, money, money that is not based solely on a definite rate of return – but has a likelihood of return
Mentorship of the aspiring by the people who have succeeded (or failed) in the past – forwarding understanding and wisdom to others
The raw skills that people have within themselves and in clusters – where ongoing interaction increases skill level and value – often though of as a “educational” requirement, but I liken more to an apprenticeship
Last year, when I was contemplating my run for NYTM Organizer, I ran this analysis over my read of the City and what we needed to do.
During NY Entrepreneurship Week, I was in New Work City and two women came into New Work City (our coworking space) looking for Jeevan Padiyar (who is part of NYCENT) to confirm their business plan had gotten submitted. In the course of helping them resolve this issue, I learned about their company and efforts – and was intrigued by the two women, Nicole Basabe and Alma Sehovic, and their incredible energy. If every entrepreneur in NY had these ladies smarts and drive, I am certain NY Tech and Entrepreneurship will life NYC to new heights.
As Nicole told me, Tribal Societe is “a online global bazaar whose concept is as fashion forward and green as the company is socially responsible and its products are a la mode”. What I took from the “pitch” was that TS is a portal for creating another channel for entrepreneurs in other lands (in this case Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, South Africa to name a few) deliver natural accessory products to the US and international market.
Nicole, who was born in Manhattan, but raised in Ecuador and Miami, got an early start at entrepreneurship – starting and successfully growing her first trading company at age of 20. After spending 8 years on her business, she took someones “advice” and decided to get an MBA at NYU Stern, thinking that the financial sector was where it was at.
At Stern, Nicole met Alma, a former banker who was looking to become an entrepreneur. As the two of them spoke, Alma convinced Nicole to return to her entrepreneurial roots and launch TS.
Editor’s note: Below is a recap of the "The Power of Information to Transform Government" session at the Personal Democracy Forum in NYC
Jonathan Adelstein, (FCC Commissioner)
Affordable high-speed broadband – importance is that all other issues are impacted by the availability of broadband. We can reduce costs of healthcare, e-learning/education.
We STILL do not have an inter-operable broadband public safety network. Smart electrical grids to overcome our vulnerabilities.
A cry for real broadband access.
Steven Clift (E-democracy.org)
Points out the many different governments efforts on eDeomcracy – Korea has an eDemocracy portal. We need an Democracy.gov – the State Government says there is one, but we can not promote it in the states.
In Estonia, todayIdecide.com website – proposals are sent forward to the Ministers and now it is being shared amoungst other countries. They are so transparent that they now publish their salaries, allow for personal access to your own information.
Everything will be online – which is where we need to be. Why doesn’t government allow for the transparency? Why doesn’t GOVERNMENT allow us to convene within their democracy?
No investment in eDemocracy at present – those in power will not open themselves up by enlightened ????. Need an executive order, to make this happen.
We are #1 in making noise and making money – most of democracy is local geographically, but the discourse in the cyber world is national. Need candidates need to make their commitments BEFORE they get elected. And, after they get elected – they should have six months to accomplish their executive orders.
Need to update Open Meeting Laws – need to make it mandatory – with agenda, minutes, etcetera. Should be the moment it is done. All meetings should be digitally recorded – need to have this publicly available.
Need to invest in eDemocracy tools in government. eNotification – (google Alerts) timely access to information when released. Public meetings ONLINE – allow people to submit testimony online. Should be within the official meetings.
Paperwork Reduction Act – why not let Federal organizations connect/survey online?
Need to do more with open democracy online – need to put data out there online. Sunlight Foundation.
Connect interventionists – dowire.org/us or dowire.org/uk – eDemocracy projects.
Gotta quit pushing that Delete button on Democracy.
Sheila Campbell (USA.gov)
USA.gov – portal for US government – mobile portal as well
Launched in 2000 – allows for people to get their questions answered.
Looking to personalize government information for individual citizens. Allows information to be channeled to them.
Has close to 24K government websites (not sure) – legacy that the government has to offer.
For example: http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/cats
But most are like PR sites…boring.
Most people want:
- Get a passport
- Apply for a business loan
- Find affordable housing
- Reduce energy costs
- Get a government job
Desire to look/work like Southwest Airlines – like IRS.gov
www.tsa.gov/blog – they opened the feedback, listened, described what the feedback was – and now checkpoint/airport security has been discussed and presented to the conversation. Very successful. And the TSA Blog Team is on twitter – http://twitter.com/tsablogteam
Other efforts: Doing widgets (population clock on Yahoo!), Webcontent.gov – sharing best practices amoungst the various organizations. Have a training academy – good SEO and good metrics.
- Help people complete common tasks efficiently
- Engage citizens in a dialogue to improve customer service
- Get rid of ROT – redundant, outdated and trivial information
- Deliver the same answer via multiple channels
- Ensure access to underserved populations
Can the next Administration deliver on:
- Web needs to be viewed as a strategic asset
- Leaders will engage and trust the public
- Focus on communications — not just technology project – it is the channel, not the tech.
- Funding tied to performance
- Reduce, reuse, recycle