Start-Up City: a look at the city’s dynamic entrepreuneurs

How About We
HowAboutWe media strategist Ariana Anthony works in their offices in DUMBO. The dating site, which was founded in April 2010 by Aaron Schildkrout and Brian Schechter, is one of the Made in NY startups. (Credit: Scout Tufankjian.)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been working to position New York City as one of the world’s greatest tech capitals, and his most recent initiative showcased some of the city’s youngest and most dynamic in the industry: a registry of hundreds of “Made in NY” start-ups.

The nearly 1,000 companies on the mayor’s list have harnessed the creative energy of the city to power a wide array of businesses, from online dating to eyewear, in ways that are as unique as the city they call home. Metro looked at four of the proud Made in New York businesses below.

 

Songza

The guys behind Songza are, in some ways, the literal posterboys for the mayor’s Made in NY platform: their photo is featured in many of the ads plastered around the city.

Songza is a music-streaming website, but Elias Roman, one of its creators, sees it as more of a “lifestyle service.” Songza offers a selection of playlists based on possible moods you could be in given the time of day.

There are no algorithms or “computer deciding what songs go on what playlists,” Roman said. The playlists featured on Songza are “hand-curated” by a team of “30 curators around New York who are just the best of the best.”

Songza has been proudly based out of Long Island City since 2007, and Roman says the neighborhood continues to perfectly suit them.

“We get our own space to be weird, to find out who we are and deliver that to users,” Roman said.

 

HowAboutWe co-founder Aaron Schildkrout meets with a colleague in their offices in DUMBO. (Credit: Scout Tufankjian.)
HowAboutWe co-founder Aaron Schildkrout meets with a colleague in their offices in DUMBO. (Credit: Scout Tufankjian.)

 

HOWABOUTWE.com

How About We is an online dating website placing more emphasis on the “dating” than the “online.”

“We had the idea that people believe in experience, they want to do things,” says owner Aaron Schildkrout. “It’s just cooler to meet based on the idea of actually going on a date in the real world than the idea of endlessly browsing profiles or chatting online forever, or ‘winking,’ whatever.”

Users sign up and propose date ideas, then are matched up with people with similar date ideas. Schildkrout describes the interface as “a lot like a Twitter stream, but it’s of dates.”

How About We is launching a new service for couples exclusively in New York: members go on free, “beautiful curated” dates monthly, Schildkrout explained.

How About We is based out of DUMBO, a location that Schildkrout said is “perfect.”

“It’s kind of the bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and we wanted to attract people from both areas,” Schildkrout said. “It’s kind of a great middle ground in that sense, and there’s also a really vibrant start-up culture here.”

 

(HowAboutWe.com.)
(HowAboutWe.com.)

 

Warby Parker

Neil Blumenthal started Warby Parker with some friends while they were still in graduate school at Wharton in 2010, but moved the operation to the city immediately upon graduation.

As a native New Yorker, Blumenthal explained, “it’s hard to live anywhere else.”

The idea for Warby Parker came about when Blumenthal and his friends realized “glasses cost as much as an iPhone,” and decided to “find the frames that we love and make them from premium materials but charge $95 instead of $500.”

Warby Parker’s Soho showroom now brings in the same amount of sales for square foot that Tiffany’s does.

 

Freelancers Union
The Freelancer’s Union offices in DUMBO. (Credit: Scout Tufankjian.)

 

Freelancers Union

Freelancers Union is essentially an insurance company, but for the ubiquitous kind of New Yorker most insurance companies would scoff at: the (sometimes-struggling) freelancer.

Started in 1995, Freelancers Union now has over 200,000 members.

“I grew up in Brooklyn and have lived here my whole life,” said founder and CEO Sara Horowitz, explaining how she saw the need for the service. “I saw that my neighbors were piecing together their work lives in new ways — the accountant who sings opera at night, the nanny who builds websites.”

Now, Horowitz says, one in three workers is independent.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.