Tag Archives: Coalition for Queens

Reddit co-founder raising money for future Queens techies


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of social networking and news site Reddit, may get tons of karma points for his dedication to the Queens tech community.

Ohanian is raising thousands of dollars with a crowdfunding site and through donations at his 31st birthday party for the tech nonprofit Coalition for Queens, which offers classes that teach coding to adults from communities that are traditionally underserved in the technology industry — such as women, minorities and immigrants — as part of its Access Code program.

The goal of the initiative is to foster the Queens tech industry by preparing Queens residents to become developers to work in companies or launch their own startups. The money will go to partial and full scholarships for students in the program, according to the Coalition.

“All I want for my 31st birthday is a new class of Queens natives to carry on the spirit of the internet age and have the skills they need to succeed,” Ohanian posted on the crowdfunding site.

Ohanian has personally donated $1,000, and on his birthday on April 24, he will throw a party for the Coalition, asking residents to donate to the program instead of bringing him gifts, said Jukay Hsu, founder of the nonprofit coalition.

Ohanian started a campaign on Crowdtilt for the program and has raised more than $8,200 so far. He promised that anyone that donates more than $150 will get an autographed copy of his best-selling book, “Without Their Permission.” Also, the person who donates the most money will have the opportunity to have dinner with Ohanian in Queens.

The program costs a hefty $10,000 for each student. Coalition officials had 21 students enrolled the inaugural group last year but are not sure how many students they’ll take on this year as yet.

“It’s really an honor that Alexis Ohanian, a prominent and established tech entrepreneur and investor, is interested in donating funds and his birthday to Coalition for Queens,” Hsu said. “This is a testament to the talent of Queens residents and the potential for them to create great tech companies.”

The site will collect donations until Ohanian’s birthday. Anyone who wishes to donate can click here.

 

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Tech company Aereo moves out of LIC base, heads to Manhattan


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@Aereo

Technology startup Aereo is leaving its Long Island City headquarters for a bigger space in Manhattan, the company announced Friday.

“Moving day! We’ve outgrown our space in #LIC. Heading across the river to new digs. We love ‘ya #Queens!” Aereo posted on its Twitter account Dec. 20, along with a photo of its packed up office.

Launched last February, Aereo enables customers to view live and recorded broadcast TV on Internet-connected devices.

The company, sued by major broadcasters for copyright infringement, is undergoing a legal battle that may go to the US Supreme Court.

“We are unwavering in our belief that Aereo’s technology falls squarely within the law and we look forward to continuing to delight our customers,” Founder and CEO Chet Kanojia said in a statement last Thursday.

The company’s Twitter account said more updates on the expansion are coming soon.

The growing online TV service company was based out of 37-18 Northern Boulevard in Long Island City and has another headquarters in Boston. It also maintains an office and operations facility in Brooklyn, an Aereo spokesperson said.

The company, which employs more than 100 people, is expanding its national presence and launched in Baltimore this week.

A leader in the Queens technology community said the move might have been caused by the lack of affordable commercial office space in Long Island City.

“That’s something we need for the tech community to grow here,” said Jukay Hsu, founder of Coalition for Queens. “They’re an extremely innovative and fast-growing tech company. I know they were looking for more space. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find it here in Long Island City.”

Coalition for Queens is a nonprofit, looking to transform the borough into a leading hub of innovation and entrepreneurship.

“I’m very sad to see them to go. They’re a great company, really forward thinking. We would have loved to keep them here in Queens,” Hsu said.

 

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Queens helps with de Blasio transition


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy the Long Island City Partnership

Queens is taking part in Transition NYC.

Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of 60 leaders and experts to his transition committee on Wednesday, November 20.

“My charge to the transition team is to identify women and men from every part of our city and walk of life that share a commitment to progressive and competent city government,” said de Blasio. “They will be advising me based on their wealth of experience and knowledge of specific issue areas and government agencies.”

The Transition NYC team members, who will be volunteering their time during the transition, include several leaders from Queens organizations and institutions.

They are Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, executive director, Queens Council on the Arts; Udai Tambar, executive director, South Asian Youth Action; Elsie Saint Louis, executive director, Haitian-Americans United for Progress, Inc.; Dr. Marcia Keizs, president, York College, The City University of New York; and Jukay Hsu, founder, Coalition for Queens.

“I am honored to be contributing to the creation of a new administration, a team New Yorkers can be proud of,” said Krakauer in a post on the Queens Council on the Arts website. “And to do that I will look to you, the creative citizens of this amazing borough, for your ideas and thoughts to bring back to the big table.”

Queens also took part in the new administration’s transition through two panel discussions that were held at the de Blasio Talking Transition Tent in downtown Manhattan on Friday, November 22.

“Thrive in Queens,” hosted by The Noguchi Museum, the Queens Economic Development Corporation and Long Island City Partnership, focused on the creative sector of the borough.

According to The Noguchi Museum Director Jenny Dixon, who moderated the first panel, they also spoke about “the need for greater marketing dollars and better public transportation,” and requested that the de Blasio administration “affirm the borough of Queens through an inclusive agenda weighted equally for all of the five boroughs.”

“A great gathering of Queens folks were in the audience and similarly a great group of Queens’ economic drivers were represented on the panel,” said Dixon.

“We hope what we have to say will be heard.”

 

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Mayoral candidates take on tech at forum


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Mayoral candidates discussed ways to improve the city’s booming technology industry during the Mayoral Tech Policy Forum on June 17 at the Museum of the Moving Image.

The Coalition for Queens, which fosters the tech community in the borough, hosted the event. It brought out more than 100 techies.

“Technology affects everything from all the different industries,” said JuKay Hsu, founder of the Coalition for Queens. “I think it should be a large part of everything the candidates do.”

Former Councilmember Sal Albanese, former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., City Comptroller John Liu and former Congressman Anthony Weiner took part in the discussion.

To kick off the forum, moderators asked the candidates to reveal what their smart phones, carriers and favorite apps are.

Albanese has a BlackBerry Bold with Verizon and likes the Major League Baseball app; Carrion carries an iPhone with Verizon and frequently listens to Pandora; Liu has an iPhone with AT&T service and also likes Pandora; and Weiner said he has both a BlackBerry and an iPhone, but did not name his carriers or his favorite app.

Moderators Anjali Athavaley of The Wall Street Journal and Nilay Patel of The Verge emphasized the event was not a debate. But the cast of former and current public officials did not miss a chance to promote their campaigns while answering questions collected from social media and tech communities.

Topics included tech jobs, startup companies, housing for workers, digital media and education in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The candidates all praised Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to boost the tech industry, but agreed more could be done. Ideas included increasing the city’s broadband infrastructure.

Discussing technology in schools, Wiener suggested that all students carry Kindles in their backpacks instead of 40-pound books. He later clarified he was not supporting Amazon, which makes and sells the Kindle, but mentioned the device as one example of e-readers.

The roundtable also touched on “disrupters” such as Uber. The app, which allows people to schedule a cab instead of hailing one, has come under fire from the Taxi and Limousine Commission. But Weiner drew some laughs about the subject in general.

“I like the disrupter title. I’d like to think I’ve done that to the mayoral campaign,” he said, adding, “We want you to be a successful tech company, but we don’t want you to undermine the laws.”

Building more affordable housing for tech workers and having more office space for companies was another popular idea at the forum.

 

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Courier hosts Power Breakfast on future of LIC’s tech boom


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), made clear that as business sectors based in the city move forward, technology will become more crucial.

“As we like to say at EDC: whereas in the past the technology industry was a sector; increasingly, today, the economy itself is the tech sector.”

Pinsky was a featured panelist for the “The Future of LIC: How the tech boom will affect you & your business!” — a power breakfast host by The Queens Courier in part with TD Bank — on Thursday, October 11, which gave a glimpse of what will become of the growing technology growth in Long Island City.

The breakfast played host to panelists: Carol Conslato, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and public affairs director for Con Edison; Andrew Kirby, president of Plaxall; Greg Pass, entrepreneurial officer for CornellNYC Tech; Jukay Hsu, founder of Coalition for Queens; Elias Roman, CEO and co-founder of Songza media; Elliot Park of Shine Electronics; and Gayle Baron, president of LIC Partnership. Featured elected officials who spoke included Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Michael Gianaris and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Van Bramer kicked the morning off by noting that what was core to Long Island City were the arts and culture that had found a home in the region.

“Who in here believes that culture and the arts drives Long Island City,” Van Bramer asked the hundreds present and was answered with hundreds of applause.

Pinsky, head of the EDC since 2008, said it was important that the city take the lead in the ever-changing tech world. Some of the ways New York has begun to do that, he said, included the Cornell Tech Campus that will have a home on Roosevelt Island and incubators in Long Island City to boost start-ups and small businesses.

“First, the sector itself is a critical and growing sector,” Pinsky said. “We’re increasing employment, we’re seeing more economic activity, but I think that’s only half an answer. And that’s because the real reason why we’re so focused on the tech sector is that in the 21st century the tech sector will also be critical to the success of almost every other sector in our city’s economy. If our city doesn’t take a leadership in technology we’ll find it increasingly difficult to maintain our leadership position in anything else that we do.”

See photos from the event

As Cornell Tech, along with other satellite campuses across the city, begin to produce ambitious minded tech experts, they will most likely find a home in Long Island City because of its location and comparatively cheaper rent prices than Manhattan, several speakers said.

Plaxall over the last 20 years has fostered the art community that gradually grew in Long Island City, and now that community will be mixed with a technology community, said Kirby, who runs the real estate company with his cousin. The end result would be something Kirby said would be “amazing.”

“We already have the creative artists, now we can bring the creative technological people to Long Island City and to do that we need to do things that will make this an attractive area for them,” Kirby said. “I think Long Island City has the potential to be a location where we merge technology and art to create some amazing things.”

To attract the expected influx of techies, Plaxall is laying out plans for a community that could foster a merger between the arts and technology, Kirby said.

This community would be on 12 acres on the East River around what is known as the Anabel Basin. This community would include a mixed-use area of residential towers and buildings for technology companies, Kirby said. The vision for this area is to create “really a sustainable community where people can live, work and play that will attract the best and the brightest.”

Roman, the youngest speaker on the panel, said afterward that technology and culture had already become one in another and could open the doors for more and more potential.

“There’s an interesting intersection between technology and culture, where the technology becomes invisible and it’s all about the culture,” he said. “I think that’s a really exciting intersection to be at.”

Queens Tech Meetup


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Amol Sarva discusses his tech industry experience at the September 27 event.

Over a hundred technology fanatics assembled on the rooftop of Hunter’s Point Plaza in Long Island City for this month’s Queens Tech Meetup. Hosted by the Coalition for Queens, the Thursday, September 27 event brought together members of the tech community to share ideas, network and gain insight from stars of the tech industry.

Amol Sarva, one of the founders of Virgin Mobile USA , discussed his journey into the tech world. In 2007, the Queens-born entrepreneur launched the Peek, an affordable smart phone, which Time Magazine named Gadget of the Year. Sarva gave the audience his tips for success in the tech industry – know the area, like your team, like the business and like the product.

Angela Min and Wes Chow of Storybox, a Long Island City based company that specializes in online photo collages, discussed their company and growth in LIC.

Jukay Hsu, founder of the Coalition for Queens, was pleased with turnout for the event.

“It’s something we want to keep going with,” said Hsu. “Even if you’re not a techie, it’s good to see what great products are out there.”

Hsu said it was amazing to have someone like Sarva, who he calls a “rock star in tech,” present at his event.

“There are all these great things happening here,” said Hsu. “Hopefully this will get people more aware of the start-ups here.”

Start-ups flock to Queens


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Tech start-up companies, escaping steep Manhattan rents and expanding Queens-born businesses, are setting up shop in Long Island City.

“It has a pioneering and innovative spirit,” said Coalition for Queens founder Jukay Hsu of the neighborhood’s energy.

The creator of the non-profit organization, responsible for fostering the tech community in the borough through raising awareness and collaborating with entrepreneurs, said the area’s appeal lies in what’s been here all along: educated personnel and skilled designers.

According to Hsu, the city suffers a shortage of computer scientists, now offset by Queens College, which trains more students in computer sciences than any other school in the metropolitan area. Hsu also said Long Island City’s reputation as a design center attracts tech companies searching for the vital aesthetic element.

A representative from LIC company Plaxall lists the average office space rent at between $15 and $25 per square-foot. According to a representative from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), current Manhattan rates for commercial spaces run around $59 per square-foot.

The Long Island City area is also regarded as a transportation hub, offering quick commutes to other business centers like Midtown Manhattan, Chelsea and the Financial District.

The Queens Tech Meetup, a monthly gathering hosted by the Coalition for Queens – brings together members from the technology community to collaborate in Long Island City.

While newer companies, such as Songza — an online music-listening service — are initiating and growing their businesses in Queens, major companies like Publicis, a worldwide public relations firm, are also migrating to Long Island City spaces.

“It’s about having existing companies grow and it’s about encouraging people to innovate,” said Hsu. “We want to help all these efforts and initiatives.”

Hsu claims the expansion of the technology sphere into Queens will affect not just the technology world, but industries including media and health care as well.

“We hope [the technology boom] can bring Queens and New York into the future,” he said.

Shapeways, a custom 3-D printing company based in Manhattan, is currently in the middle of lease negotiations, on its way to opening a factory in Long Island City. Director of marketing Carine Carmy said the massive space available and city-provided incentives drove Shapeways to move operations to Queens. The company’s distribution center is already located in Hunters Point and Carmy hopes the move will centralize business for its high concentration of east-coast based customers.

“We’ve been thinking about it,” said Carmy of the possibility of Shapeways’ 28th and Park headquarters migrating to LIC. “There are definitely benefits in having our offices more condensed.”

Elias Roman, Queens native and co-founder of Songza, said LIC has always been a top choice as the home base for his “music concierge” company, with proximity to Manhattan and community connectivity as just starting points.

“[Long Island City] has a great, fun start-upy vibe,” said Roman. “It’s exciting to see it grow while you’ve been growing … Theres no better place in the world to be than here.”

Queens Tech Meetup 2: Educate and innovate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Attention Queens innovators: think outside the box.

At the second Queens Tech Meetup, local inventors learned that while Queens can potentially surface as one of the nation’s leading technology regions, creators must be fully engaged to energize the movement.

The advice was given to nearly 200 techies and digital startup hopefuls by venture capitalist Charlie O’Donnell.

“You have a responsibility to be the best employees, the best entrepreneurs,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell, founder of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, commended the group of gadget-lovers for taking an interest in technology in the borough, but challenged them to become more innovative.

He instructed them to think of devices and software that differ from current trends and work to fix real needs. O’Donnell also told the audience to think about exceeding individual barriers, to try to design their own meetups and to spur continued growth in the field.

O’Donnell noted features of the borough that will attract more tech-focused inventors and aficionados that could drive the Queens tech era.

“A couple of years from now you’re going to be able to walk across the [Roosevelt Island] bridge and go to one of the premium engineering and applied sciences schools and the only place that you can walk from is Queens,” O’Donnell said, referring to the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, which will be built on Roosevelt Island.

O’Donnell added that Queens has a wide range of people with everyday problems like finding a baby sitter, which could be used to generate new ideas for applications and devices.

Queens Tech Meetup 2 was organized by the Coalition for Queens, a group dedicated to fostering the technology sector in the borough.

Coalition for Queens recently received $65,000 from the City Council for creating classes to teach aspiring techies.

The first batch of classes will start in September and focus on areas such as web programming, team building and Adobe Illustrator.

“We want people to learn about skills like how to use social media, how to program a website or if you’re more advanced and want to build an app,” said JuKay Hsu, founder of the coalition. “We want to give everyone the opportunity to get really, really well paying jobs here in New York.”

Hsu believes the Queens innovators will be able to meet O’Donnell’s challenge because of the borough’s wealth in diversity.

“We have all these different people from different backgrounds and experiences,” said Hsu. “They’re going to think outside the box.”