Last week Jon and I attended the 6.27 SF New Tech’s bi-monthly event. SFNT has a long history of putting on events to allow people in technology to have a place to meet, network, and keep up with the latest technology trends in the Bay Area. Even with the long history, this was our first SFNT event. The event we attended was at Club Mighty, making it a casual, fun, and fascinating night.
So what is SFNewTech?
Essentially, SFNT is a platform for startups and entrepreneurs to present their ideas and products to the tech forward (and maybe a few people with money). It provides a safe, positive environment for budding CEOs and developers to demo their company, answer questions, and receive suggestions from the crowd. SFNT is also a wonderful place for meeting recruiters that specialize in Technology and often represent some of the most influential names in the Silicon Valley tech-scene.
How does SFNT work?
I was struck by how the event was neatly structured. SFNT started promptly at 5:30 PM at the club. Event goers spent the first two hours getting a drink from the bar (cash only!), grabbing some tacos from the wonderful and ever-present Taco truck and casually networking with peers. After relaxing a bit and meeting a few new people, the Demos began at 7:30 PM and went till about 9 PM.
The Demos follow a strict schedule. Each representative gets 5 minutes to demo their company and product on the main stage. Next, they get another 5 minutes to answer questions from the audience. Despite the collegial milieu, the crowd is not afraid to ask tough questions and truly test the presenters. I found it to be a wonderful way to be introduced to exciting new apps and products that I had never heard of. At the end of the demos, the audience is asked to vote via web or text message for their favorite presentation of the evening. The results are shown live on the main screen for everyone to see. After a winner is declared, members of the audience are encouraged to come up and make any community announcements or invitations to similar events.
At this point, the bar is reopened and discussions and networking continue for the rest of the evening.
This Month’s Demos
Zero1 (Non-Profit): an Art and Technology network based out of San Jose. Their mission is to help facilitate communication and collaboration between technology and art. Zero 1 runs the Zero1 Biennial, an international showcase of work at the nexus of art and technology. The presenter was enthusiastic and passionate about his work, but he was not very clear on how Zero1 worked. I was left feeling confused about the product and how they reached out to artists.
Waze: Creators of the awesome social GPS & real time traffic app. The product: after inputting where they are going, users just drive with the app open on their phone while passively contributing to traffic and other road conditions. Users can also add reports on accidents, police activity, or any other traffic related information. Waze owns its own maps, created with the help of its user base. Waze came to launch their new gas-station-finding feature that lets users compare gas prices at stations nearby. It was easy to get excited about Waze. While I had heard of them in the past, I had never downloaded the app. After the event, I downloaded the app and it has already proven to be very useful!
Jon’s Two Cents: I had downloaded Waze, but “social” traffic hadn’t really appealed to me. The demo got my attention. One of the points they made that caught my attention was how the gas lookup worked. Waze doesn’t just tell you about gas stations nearby, it tells you about cheap gas stations along your route.
Factoid Games: A casual gaming app company that utilizes music information to build Facebook and iTunes games. It is currently under development and in its infancy. The app appears to be a simple turn based game that also links to band tour dates, twitter feeds, iTunes, and Amazon stores. While the idea was nice, I had a few issues with this demo.
First, there was the presenter, Factoid’s CEO. He was certainly very knowledgeable about what he was trying to do, but he was bland. He did not seem very passionate or excited about his own product. This really bothered me. If you can’t get excited about your own product, how do you expect others to be excited about it? Second, the games were very simple: “name that song” and other music quiz games. Nothing novel here folks. Overall, this demo was a dud.
Jon’s Two Cents: Yawn. Demo needed a lot of work and the products were not really inspiring.
iBroadcast.tv: a website that allows you to create and share broadcasts with the world. Linked with Facebook, it allows you to share your broadcasts and provides a fascinating, free platform that can be used by organizations to reach out to supporters and fans. There is always something broadcasting, without advertisements.
I really liked this demo, it has so much potential! There are so many ways it can be used… as a way to share information, make low cost shows, guides, and non-profit ads… the list goes on. I really think they have something and look forward to hearing more about them.
Jon’s Two Cents: As Lauren stated, iBroadcast.tv has a lot of potential. Basically you have all the best features of YouTube and WebCam broadcasting together. They didn’t really have a monetization plan available, but I don’t think it will be an issue.
Crowdflower: a crowd sourced, real time, photo moderator system. This product is properly called “Real Time Foto Moderation”… or RTFM. This image moderation company was one of the stars of the night. Crowdflower reviews and moderates image content for their clients, based on their needs and restrictions. Heavily community based, Crowdflower has real people reviewing the images, not just programs. I was really impressed with their business model and potential. I can see large companies and PR firms really getting a lot out of working with them. The speaker was excited and you could tell he really loves what he does.
Jon’s Two Cents: Having the initials “RTFM” is hilarious, though going to bite them in the ass when it comes to Google search results. Regardless, the concept was very cool and they certainly have a business model that works. RTFM is basically Amazon Mechanical Turk on steroids.
Reddit the community of communities. A powerhouse on the web. There is a Reddit for just about everything you can imagine. Want to help redditors count to infinity? Buy and Island? Help a poor grandmother being harassed by horrid middle schoolers? Reddit is the place! Be warned though, Reddit is highly addictive, you won’t know where your day went!
AND THE WINNER IS…
This meeting’s winner via popular vote was Broadcast.tv! They have an incredibly fascinating product and tons of potential. I can’t wait to see where they go with it.
Overall SFNewTech was a fun and social way to meet fellow techies, and just an enjoyable evening all around. I will definitely be coming back! For information on past and future events, check out www.sfnewtech.com or look them up on Eventbrite.