Tag Archives: Queens Tech Meetup

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.”