By Jim Flood
During last night's monthly NY Tech Meetup at NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, one audience question really got under MC Nate Westheimer's skin. The founders of startup Philo, a social network/check-in app based around TV viewing, had just given their demo. Someone asked how they plan to make money, a question that had already been asked of other presenters and that is often on people's minds when they first hear of a business idea, whether it's tech-based or not.
Westheimer broke in and said he wanted to skip that question, moving on to another. Later he explained that he's tired of having presenters asked about their revenue models, and suggested that questions about money should again be banned from the event as they were in the past. Many in the audience applauded this sentiment, which Westheimer cemented by stating that the NY Tech meetup is about technology, not business.
That said, it can be reasonably assumed that most of the following companies who presented their ideas hope to make money from them:
Eventros: An event-specific social networking app that allows people attending an event of any type to post profiles, comment and connect with each other while it's going on.
Market Publique: A shopping site for vintage clothing with an exclusivity clause: sellers are vetted to make sure their clothing is vintage enough and their photographs of merchandise are attractive enough.
Turnto: Forging ahead with the trend of people revealing every detail of their lives to each other online, this service allows you to voluntarily register your e-commerce purchases and recommend products to friends.
Indaba: The highlight of the well-received demo by this collaborative music-making and -selling site was the reveal of a patent-pending audio mixing platform that lets users work on tracks right in their browser.
Philo: This service allows TV lovers to check in while watching a show and comment on it with fellow fans (or haters), online or on their mobile device.
Twilio: Lets businesses build communication-focused apps — for teleconferencing or customer service, for example. Note to future NY Tech Meetup demo-ers based on this presentation: typing code on screen gets you lots of audience love.
Willow Garage's Texai: Robotics meets teleconferencing: the Texai allows a user to connect with a monitor on wheels across the country or the world. You can move around a room and interact with people in a remote location, instead of just appearing as a talking head on a wall or laptop. No ability to pick up objects or shake people's hands via robot arm, but you can move around a facility and see what's happening around corners.
Also speaking last night was Drop.io founder Sam Lessin, who offered what was billed as a rebuttal of Clay Shirky's talk at last month's Meetup. If you weren't there to hear Shirky and have not read his book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, Lessin's motor-mouthed, two-seconds-per-slide presentation about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation and economic theory might not have made much sense to you.
The evening's final presenter was a representative of Microsoft search engine — or as they term it, "decision engine" — Bing, who showed off some new functionality and Safari extensions. One feature, an ability to drill down on maps to the blueprint of a building, prompted a NY Tech Meetup member to post a comment on the group's website about "potentially disastrous security implications."