What to Check Out at Northside Innovation

06/03/2015 4:48 PM |


Sure, at first, “innovation” sounds like one of those annoying tech-speak buzzwords like “disruptor” or “visionary” or, well, “buzzword,” none of which feel like they have any real bearing on the way people outside of the tech world really speak or think. And yet, when we think of the people who are featured at this year’s Northside Innovation Expo and Conference, the descriptor “innovation” loses its hollow buzziness and feels incredibly apt, because these people are some of the most exciting entrepreneurs, designers, and creators in the tech world today, all of whom are working to change the very fabric of the world we live in, whether by launching a new kind of social media platform (hello, Ello) or facilitating the expedient delivery of pizza to the masses (yo, Yo). Read on for a list of some of this year’s must-see innovators.

Trina DasGupta
Founder of Single Palm Tree Productions

Event/Location: Comedy + Tech #IRL at the Videohelper Stage at Kinfolk 94
Date: Thursday, June 11
Bio: As the CEO and Founder of Single Palm Tree Productions, a media company that created America Meet World, Trina DasGupta is responsible for introducing U.S. Americans with comedic videos and emerging talents from around the world to “build global understanding.”
Why attend: DasGupta is moderating a panel with Jen Jamula and Allison Goldberg, the co-founders of Blogologues, an ongoing show where troupe-like bloggers bring real content from the web to a New York stage so viewers can experience the Internet in the unapologetic and unfiltered way it should be, i.e. up close and too personal.
What to expect: Awesome women talking about the way in which technology and comedy are fused together, the outcome can alter the way we enjoy our everyday lives.

Rachel Shechtman
Founder of STORY

Event/Location: Democratizing Access and Discovery: Creating Physical Experiences that Matter
at Wythe Screening Room Presented By Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Date: Thursday, June 11
Bio: Former brand consultant for GAP, AOL, and TOMS shoes, Rachel Shechtman founded Story as a way to “take the point of view of a magazine, change [it] like a gallery and sell things like a store.”
Why attend: Here’s where you can go to learn all about how design is more than that just laying patterns, colors and themes together—it’s also an essential tool in storytelling and user experience.
What to expect: A talk by Shechtman breaking down the importance of democratizing design to reach a broader audience.

Gregg Carey
Co-Founder and VP of Operations at Voxy

Event/Location: Finding Believers: Building Your Team at Entrepreneurship Stage
by co:collective Wythe Main Room
Date: Friday, June 12
Bio: With a background that involves being a Survivor contestant—as well as co-founding Voxy—Gregg Carey has also established a language-learning program that gives users in more than 20 countries a personalized experience for learning a second language.
Why attend: Seeing as how the company Carey co-founded is frequently named one of the best work environments in NY, it only makes sense that he’d be great at giving advice on how to build your perfect work team. This will also be pretty useful for people who are looking for ways to be better team players.
What to expect: Inspiration and motivation to find people to believe in you and/or your brand.

Charlie O’Donnell
Partner and Founder of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures

Event/Location: Serial Entrepreneur: At It Again at Entrepreneurship Stage
by co:collective Wythe Main Room
Date: Friday, June 12
Bio: Brooklyn-native Charlie O’Donnell is a venture capitalist at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, the first venture capital fund in the borough. Besides investing in startups and running his blog, This is Going to be Big, O’ Donnell is an avid biker, runner and kayaker.
Why attend: O’Donnell is interviewing Bradford Shellhammer, founder and former chief design officer for Fab.com, on his new feat, Bezar, an online marketplace that hosts daily pop-up shops from up-and-coming designers.
What to expect: Some insight on what Shellhammer has done differently when approaching his second company, the power and love of design, and how to distinguish yourself amongst similar companies.

Justin McLeod
Founder of Hinge

Event/Location: The Evolving Online Dating Industry: New Products, Better Algorithms, Bigger Love
at the Videohelper Stage at Kinfolk 94
Date: Friday, June 12
Bio: Justin McLeod jumped on the dating game bandwagon back in 2011 with his app Hinge which matches clients only to mutual Facebook acquaintances, thus reducing what we like to think of as the “rando” factor. He’s also kind of anti-Tinder—he compared the app to the almost-obsolete MySpace—but then again, who isn’t?
Why attend: The mechanics of the dating world are complex and confusing, so hearing those who have seemingly cracked its code could help provide insight on how to salvage your own wretched love life.
What to expect: A panel of three other experts in the online dating industry discussing the involving dating industry and ways we connect with the people around us.


Interview with Jake Dobkin, co-founder of Gothamist


In the dozen years since its launch, New York City blog Gothamist has become on of the most reliable places for breaking local news on the web. Co-founder Jake Dobkin will be speaking at the Northside Festival this year and cover topics ranging from the secrets to a successful media startup to what his own professional highs and lows have been. We decided to chat a bit with Dobkin before his talk so that we could get the scoop on everything from how long it took to settle on a name for the blog to why, uh, he hates milk so much.

What was your original inspiration for starting Gothamist (along with co-founder, Jen Chung)?
During the dotcom crash, I worked for a digital agency and Jen worked for an ad agency, and we both had a lot of time on our hands because most of our clients had gone out of business. We enjoyed sending links about NYC back and forth to each other via email, and one day I thought it would be amusing to make a little blog so our other friends could join in the fun.

How long did it take to settle on the name?
I think about five minutes, since it was the only good one we could think of.

What was your original mission for Gothamist and do you feel like you’ve achieved it? And how has that mission evolved?
I definitely feel that I’ve achieved the original mission of hanging out online with Jen Chung! Subsequent missions have evolved over time: amusing fellow New Yorkers, raising awareness of some important issues here in the city, trying to establish definitively the best bagel, etc. Our current mission is to make NYC a better and more interesting place.

What differentiates Gothamist from other New York-based blogs?
Besides the deep, soulful humanity of our high quality prose? I think we’re one of just a few web sites that don’t make you feel depressed if you read them everyday.

You write a popular advice column “Ask a Native New Yorker”; what makes native New Yorkers different from long-term residents who didn’t grow up here?
We don’t have a choice—we were born here and we’re going to die here. The rest of you are just tourists on a vacation of indefinite length.

What are the most commonly asked questions you’ve received about life in New York City?
The most common question is how long someone has to live here before they’re a real New Yorker.

What can people expect from your talk at Northside?
I thought I’d discuss the pros and cons of staying independent as a tech or media entrepreneur. But I could also do 20 minutes of complaining about how gentrified
Williamsburg has become! Really, just ask me!

What’s one piece of advice you would give to anyone wanting to do a startup?
Make sure you’re doing what’s right for you, not what’s right for some other guy you read about online.

What are the sites you visit most frequently and who are the writers you most like to read?
I enjoy many thoughtful and independent websites, including Gothamist, The Awl, The Morning News, Hyperallergic, etc. My favorite writer is Andy Newman at the New York Times, particularly his weird animal oeuvre.

And, finally: Why do you hate milk so much?
Milk has tried to kill me many times. It knows what it did and deserves what it has coming!