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TechStars Shines a Light on NY Tech

Thursday was a pivotal moment in the NY startup scene: the inaugural TechStars NYC Demo Day. It was an honor to be in attendance and get to see 11 fantastic startups strut their stuff on the stage of legendary Webster Hall to room full of 750 investors and community.

Photo by Andrew Hyde

I’ve been following the TechStars NYC program’s trajectory since January and hanging out at their space at Pivotal Labs whenever I get the chance. And while I’m probably a bit biased (a few of the companies are run by friends of mine), I was absolutely blown away by the quality of presentations, the clarity of thought, and the sophisticated solutions developed by these small companies in just three months.

The program in NYC is run by David Tisch, a serial entrepreneur and seed investor (yes, he’s a Tisch). I originally met Dave two years ago when he was managing director of kgb Internet and looking for a user experience designer. We had several connections in common, as he was an early investor in Boxee and I knew his cousin Ben growing up. Though we didn’t work together then, we developed a quick rapport and have been bantering ever since.

When Dave was pegged to lead the TechStars NYC program by David Cohen, I thought it was a stroke of genius — and the showing at Thursday’s event proved me right.

The companies in the inaugural class of TechStars NYC are:

Nestio – making it easier to find a place to live
ThinkNear – helping merchants attract nearby customers with real-time discounts
Immersive Labs – smarter digital signs
FriendsList – social classifieds
OnSwipe – publishing platform for tablets
CrowdTwist – brand loyalty platform based on online engagement
MigrationBox – data migration in the cloud
ToVieFor – online auctions for high-end fashion
Red Rover – peer-to-peer engagement platform
Shelby.tv – discover and watch videos your friends are sharing
Veri – quiz-based learning games about everything

Congratulations to all of these wonderful companies and best of luck on their journeys forward! Applications for the Summer 2011 program are now open.

Here are my live tweets from TechStars NYC Demo Day Spring 2011. Enjoy!

  • I’m thrilled to be here @TechStars NYC Demo Day to support the fantastic startups who’ve been working their asses off since January. Mazel!
  • Huge congrats goes out to @davetisch for managing the first ever @techstars NYC class. Such a badass. Respect.
  • Caren @nestio just kicked off demos. Opened w/ problem statement. I implicitly trusted everything she said after that. Killed it.
  • I’ll be keeping a count of “user experience” mentions. We’re at 2 so far!
  • RT @msg: And then @carenmaio CRUSHED the @nestio presentation!!! She made me want to move just to use their product
  • Interesting demo by @eportnoy of @thinknear. Benefit rests squarely on their ability to target effectively and not annoy users
  • Wow @immersivelabs is crazy cool. I’d love to see it in action. Woohoo! @jwegener is on the stage to demo FriendsList. So proud! Also starting with problem statement, not surprised. Love.
  • When you clearly define the problem, people implicitly believe in the value of your solution because they feel the pain.
  • RT @innonate: “Half the listings are duplicate, half the listings are scams, and half the listings are duplicate.” – @jwegener
  • Proves that co’s who don’t understand prob will fail RT @shaig: Nestio & Friendslist are both going after the outdated Craiglist
  • We’re still only at 2 mentions of User Experience (that I’ve heard). Both in @nestio’s demo. Did I miss one?
  • HTML5 & CSS3 wet dream: @onswipe. App-like behavior served in browser. Detects screen orientation. Sexy! No more Apple bullshit
  • Hot damn. I’m mad impressed with the @techstars NYC demos so far. Who’s teaching these folks how to do public speaking? Spot on
  • Swoon! @dherman76 on the stage. @TechStars NYC demos starting back up now
  • @swrv of @crowdtwist on the stage. A smart, Jewish entrepreneur — and he’s TALL. Be still my Jewess heart!
  • And the “User Experience” count is at 3. Only. Disappointing. Then again, these aren’t all consumer businesses. But still…
  • Love the @migrationbox concept. Many have identified this problem, but none have cracked the nut yet. Excited to see it in action
  • Really impressed by @toviefor’s business model. An industry ripe for innovation *outside* of consumer products/services. Nice!
  • W00t! @kprentiss of @redroverhq on the stage! Consulted w/ them in ’08/09. So impressed w/ their growth over the last few years.
  • Nice work. @kprentiss starting out by walking through example of target audience & common use cases to demonstrate inefficiencies
  • Ow ow! @onshelby’s @reecepacheco taking the stage. Introduced by @fredwilson. I love these guys and what they’ve done
  • I’ve been using @onshelby for a few weeks and now I absolutely can’t watch online video without it. Praying for an iPad app :)
  • Entrepreneurs: learn from @onshelby that your product doesnt need many features to make a huge fucking difference in ppl’s lives
  • @marciamarcia guess I haven’t made enough of an impact on them yet :( /cc: @reecepacheco @JoeYevoli @onshelby
  • Finishing out today’s demos is @verihq. This was a fantastic collection of startups solving real problems with smart solutions
  • Final count for mentions of User Experience: 3. 2 by @nestio, 1 by @crowdtwist. Looks like I still have a lot of work to do.

A few great articles about TechStars NYC Demo Day Spring 2011:

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