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NY Tech Day Gives Startups Much Needed Info and Exposure

By Mary Johnson | April 20, 2012 9:49am

MANHATTAN — Dozens of startup companies—from well-known superstars like Tumblr to virtual unknowns — filled the Lexington Avenue Armory in the Flatiron district on Thursday for the first-ever NY Tech Day.

The event, which attracted more than 3,500 registered guests and 160 exhibitors, was intended to serve as a sort of science fair for the startup set, uniting burgeoning companies from New York City and elsewhere around the country to help them gain exposure, find financing and learn about support services for small businesses.

The city’s tech community has been growing rapidly in recent months. Google has set up a strong presence in the city. Both Twitter and Yelp have opened offices in Midtown and the Union Square area, respectively. Tykoon, which developed an eponymous app to help children learn to manage their finances, and Efficiency 2.0, a firm that works with energy companies to help their customers conserve energy, have also emerged in the Flatiron district.

The founders of NY Tech Day — John Petersen and Alec Hartman — have both spent chunks of their careers working with tech-centered startups and decided to create the daylong conference based on their own experiences.

“It’s going to be a home run for startups,” said Petersen, 29, when he spoke to DNAinfo back in January. “Working on startups ourselves really helped us keep that in focus as we built this thing.”

The insider knowledge seemed to resonate at NY Tech Day on Thursday.

Cannonball is among those tech startups that are new to New York and the digital scene, said Thomas Aabo, vice president of the company, which officially launched its app on Thursday.

The company, which employs six full-timers and six freelancers in its offices on 19th Street near Union Square, created a namesake app to consolidate social events that people schedule through a variety of digital outlets, such as Facebook or Google Calendar.

“We integrated all of the different calendars [where] you might have your activities,” Aabo said. “And we created a real, simple, cool, one-place visualization of it.”

“[It’s] like Foursquare check-in for the future,” Aabo added.

Depending on users’ privacy settings, those activities can be compiled to create a social feed, which can be made available so friends can spot who will be attending what — and possibly join in the fun, he said.

Something like NY Tech Day, which charged exhibitors around $385 for a booth, is exactly what has been missing from the New York City tech scene thus far, Aabo said.

“New York has always been a dog-eat-dog type of experience,” Aabo said. “And now these guys came at it with what I call the right startup mentality.”

Around 3 p.m. on Thursday, after going through more than 700 business cards, Aabo hailed the day as a success.

“It’s bubbling so crazy right now in terms of the resources and the talent that’s coming to the city,” Aabo said. “[NY Tech Day] was the right idea of exposure for our startup.”