Ideas Aplenty at NExT Expo


My head is swimming with other people’s ideas. I just spent an energizing hour at the NExT Expo down the street from my office. The big tent in McCarren Park is full of start ups and the thrilled-to-be-pitching-you founders along with their early-stage employees and interns. Every one of them was wound up and ready to go when I got there. Go and check it out and see whether they can keep up the pace. Let me know whether I understood all these projects correctly, or whether as so often happens, I spin them to be what I would like them to be.

Here is a taste – some backed by IAC, some self-funded or with a private investor, some crowd-funded through Kickstarter. Some even with plausible business models. I haven’t tested any of these and I am dipping freely into their own self-descriptions – but you’ll get the idea.

The first hurdle as you enter is the super-excited team from boutgame – a picture taking game in which you compete with your friends to post the Raddest Finger Mustache, or the best Compromising Position. The challenge gets made and “May the best pic win.” This one turns out to be from collegehumor.

I then met Miriam Altman, a former teacher who discovered that parents often did not know that their kids had been skipping school. You don’t need me to tell you that absenteeism leads to lower incomes and often to jail. So she developed kinvolved a simple system for taking attendance that is instantly transmitted to parents. The data can be analyzed, trends identified and used to advocate for reform. Apparenlty 71% of dropouts believe that the most effective way to keep students in school is to increase communication with families. Hence kinvolved.

For book group and pot luck partiers comes MyPotLuckApp which helps you to sort out who is bringing the salad, who needs to buy the beers and so on. A sort of wedding gift registry but for your pot luck supper.

The wonderfully named – (and exquisitely bow tied) Land Grant was super-excited about the possibilities of 3D printing for creating jobs. BTW apparently Maker Bot still has 50 job openings. His organization, NYC3DP is building the community of people interested in the future of 3D printing.

Anna Curran has founded that helps you self publish a mouth-watering book of your very own recipes and food pics – you can even sneak your own family in. Now we are all Nigella – or Emeril.

Several products are helping us to discover, sort through, follow, curate and aggregate all the stuff we want to share, or keep private ..there is colabo; there is villij; there is bespoke – each has their own angle and it is not immediately apparent to me which is the one I will want to use. Will I need them all for different things? Makes my head hurt already – just more sources of stimulation to add to my life – and three more places to lose things – just like the top drawer of my desk. I guess the proof of these puddings will be in the eating.

I got a very persuasive presentation from Danielle at akimbo which is a platform for people to present themselves and their portfolios to potential employers. Of course it has a social component, recommending people you should contact and passing on job leads. They are starting out in NYC and aiming at smaller creative employers as they get this under way. Will it become a LinkedIn for the picture taking, curating and sharing cohort? Gen C as Google calls it. Right now Akimbo is offering a chance at $2000 to a recent graduate to help them launch their career. “Gather your accomplishments, Unite your experiences. Replace the anxiety with exhilaration and prepare for the big things to come.” That is their pitch to the job market entrants this is designed for.

And there is Wavsys a technology talent firm, creativeworx which is a time tracker app aimed at creative professionals that ties directly in to Adobe Creative Suite; Seed and Spark which is a crowdfunding platform for independent film makers that is also a showcase for those films. They have raised a quarter of a million dollars for indie films since December. And a lovely intern (it’s her first week) told me how The End Records, a Brooklyn record label, is single handedly going to save the music business.

Did I miss anyone – well actually yes I did. An engineer who worked in aerospace found that working all day on his laptop was an ergonomic disaster but there were no portable laptop stands that met his needs. So he designed and built one – he’s getting Kickstarter money – so now there is the Roost. It’s built of Delrin plastic, the same as ski bindings, and carbon fiber and military grade ceramic paint. Watch the video of them loading 132 lbs of cinder blocks onto it.

There still more pitches poised, but I reached my limit. Go and check it out. There were some fine looking meat pies and a Heineken tent – and there are days of music and film alongside and around the neighborhood.

Time to get back to work and maybe have some ideas of my own.