Wednesday June 19, 2019

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NY Disruptive Technologists: Good, Bad, and Disregarded (Part I)

(l-r) Lauren Keyson, Murat Aktihanoglu, Nelly Yusupova, Joe Rubin, Steve Rosenbaum, Joanne Scillitoe

(l-r) Lauren Keyson, Murat Aktihanoglu, Nelly Yusupova, Joe Rubin, Steve Rosenbaum, Joanne Scillitoe (credit: Donna Hollins)

By David Craig

The inaugural Disruptive Technologists in NYC Meetup on Wednesday was about advising entrepreneurs and startups with game-changing new products, wacky ideas, wildly entrepreneurial visions — and getting them to fruition. Five panelists gave their take on funny, awkward and unique tech apps. Many of the ideas they’ve seen were too crazy even for their own disruptive organizations.

Murat Aktihanoglu of Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator has seen thousands of applications. He still remembers one auction site, BidDates, which two entrepreneurs called “the next Facebook.”  Women would be prominently featured on the site and men would bid for their dates. “The premise was that the women can make money, and the men can practice before they go on an actual date,” Aktihanoglu said. “We did not accept them into the incubator.”

One idea Nelly Yusupova, Webgrrls International, said she loves is Quirky, a product development company. “The idea behind it is that there is an innovator — a regular person –who thinks of different products, like how to improve a phone or a spatula. The startup crowdsources the idea of getting your idea to production.” The site allows users to submit ideas and lets people buy the product before it’s made. Yusupova said the business model validates the product. “Since 2009, the company has funded over 267 products and works with 188 retail partners,” she said, “and it’s still alive.”

Often entrepreneurs are crazy, not the products. Steve Rosenbaum, of NY Video Meetup, said, “Sometimes the ideas are actually pretty cool – you see some amazing products and ideas, and you think ‘Wow — that’s phenomenal!’” But when entrepreneurs will say it’s a $100 million idea, and valued at that price, Rosenbaum said, “I think that is more outrageous than the idea itself.” He added that entrepreneurs need a dose of realism and learn about business before uttering numbers and expectations.

Joe Rubin, Funding Post, has seen a lot of good, original ideas.As we are at a disruptive conference, that’s what we need,” he said. But he added that a lot of great ideas never go anywhere. Innovators need to take the idea and turn it into a realistic business that can grow, make money and do something great in the world.

“The world doesn’t just need another feature added to the same thing – you need to make something that completely changes the game,” Rubin said.

[Editor’s Note: Lauren Keyson, founder of Disruptive Technologists in NYC Meetup, is a frequent contributor to NY Convergence.]