This morning, I attended my second NYC Tech Breakfast. I like the format of this Meetup as they encourage startups to actually do a live demo of their product (and discourage “death by Powerpoint”), the MC is quite good, and there’s free food!
As usual, there were five startups demoing their products to the audience.
First up was Basepair, demoed by Amit Sinha. Basepair is a SaaS startup providing DNA sequencing analysis to doctors, clinicians, and researchers. Users simply upload their DNA sequence data to the service and then select amongst a few predefined workflows to analyze their data. The results are then provided as a series of files accessible online.
Basepair aims to replace the ad-hoc, developed-in-house workflows for analyzing DNA sequence data that many hospitals and reseach groups rely on now. These non-standard processes make it difficult for the doctors and researchers to perform analyses because the workflows are currently highly technical and require the assistance of a programmer or technician.
Next up, Paolo Gaudiano demoed Infomous. Infomous creates word clouds somewhat similar to tag clouds. The difference is that the words within these Infomous word clouds are semantically related to each other so that words within the same cloud have some sort of assocation and relevancy with each other. Users can click the words within the cloud to see a list of relevant webpages associated with that word. One interesting feature Paolo mentioned was that their algorithm does not rely on any natural language processing or semantic analysis to generate these word clouds, thereby enabling their technology to generate word clouds in any language.
Infomous is currently focusing on providing these word clouds for news outlets. One cloud Paolo demoed was a retrospective of the big news stories from 2013. I found it to be a very creative way to visualize the events of the past year.
Justin Lichtenstaedter and Rob Wyant, two fresh graduates from George Washington University, demoed Yapper next. Yapper provides users with hyper-local, ephemeral chat rooms to enable discussions that are relevant only to the current time and place. Their iOS-only app features support for public, private, and featured chat rooms, all of which expire after two hours. User-created chat rooms are limited to a five-block radius for participants, but the two also described a D.C.-wide chat room that they created for GWU students to coordinate activities.
The two founders demoed a chat room they created for NYC Tech Breakfast and were able to get a few audience members to join and chat (surprisingly few members of the audience actually had iOS devices, so many were unable to download the app).
Fourth was Andre Pacheco who presented SecondMic. SecondMic is an iOS app that allows sports fans to commentate on games and broadcast live right from their iPhone or iPad. Other fans can then subscribe to the channels created by these amateur commentators and follow along with them in real time. With the 2014 World Cup happening right now, this app couldn’t have been more timely.
Apparently, the “secret sauce” is in the technology that allows SecondMic to ensure that commentators and the viewers are watching the game in sync. Andre made a distinction between fans who watch games on broadcast TV over the air and those who watch games streamed online. Online streams tend to lag behind broadcasts over the air and it would ruin the viewing experience if streamers heard commentary that was even a few seconds ahead.
Andre also discussed some of the legal challenges that SecondMic faces. The sports leagues own the rights to images, sounds, and descriptions of games, so it is actually illegal for commentators to give a straight play-by-play of games. Instead, they must provide some analysis or other commentary in their broadcasts.
SecondMic was easily the most popular technology demoed at this Tech Breakfast and my personal favorite as well.
Last but not least, Wen Wen Lam and Alexey Pakhomov introduced Jetway, a startup for providing corporate discount rates on flights and hotels to small businesses. Jetway provides a modern online flight booking experience to travel agents (some of whom still maintain a lot of their records on paper). When asked how they managed to get these rates, Wen Wen mentioned that they had to spend a lot of time in painstaking negotiations with their partners (that seemed to be all she felt comfortable sharing).
I really enjoyed hearing about the startups that presented at this NYC Tech Breakfast. They all introduced innovative services that are already available. It’s a shame I won’t be around for the next one!