During the past few years, the world has watched as physical public spaces have combined with digital ones, such as social networks, to disrupt the status quo. It makes sense then, that disruptive technology would make its debut at the monthly New York Tech Meetup (NYTM), which borders Washington Square Park in NYU’s Skirball Theatre.A few weeks ago, a few colleagues and I had the opportunity to represent Centric Digital at the New York Tech Meetup’s July event. We had an enlightening experience as we ventured downtown to see the latest innovations in tech, mingle with other techies, and share in the mutual excitement of such a huge digital event.
The Urban Arts Partnership kicked off the event with a show-stopping hip-hop performance. The presentation was not purely theatrics, however, as the company made it clear that they follow a distinct social mission of using the power of music to assist academically-challenged high school students study for their New York Regents exams.For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, the Regents exams are deeply irksome standardized tests that cover a variety of academic topics, tests that plenty of New Yorkers know all-too well. As an alumnus of a New York State public school, I can attest to the annual stress that the Regents exams bring to students.The Urban Arts Partnership is crafting innovative solutions to help students study for these exams, especially underserved public school students who have the ability to easily memorize their favorite hip-hop song lyrics, as Edutopia explains, but who still struggle with textbook literacy and fact memorization.By integrating textbook facts into the lyrics of famous hip-hop songs, the Urban Arts Partnership promises to engage students in a new and more effective way. Only time will tell whether this new-age approach is adopted by students and makes a real impact on education, but regardless, this highly admirable project displayed originality and ingenuity — the trademarks of true entrepreneurship.
Another interesting demo was the NYTM Hack of the Month: OutGoingnyc.com. Jeff Ferzoco, the creator of this web application, has managed to catalog New York’s entire historic gay nightlife scene.From the 1850s to the present day, OutGoing provides users with an interactive map of every gay bar, club, and bathhouse, as well as other gay-friendly establishments that were significant during the underground movement that guided NYC’s gay communities. He is currently expanding his research efforts to San Francisco.Our favorite demo was an app called Maven, which specifically targets women’s health needs. Launched in April after undergoing a $2.3 million round of seed funding, according to TechCrunch, the app allows women to book face-to-face video appointments with a wide range of care providers.Maven founder and CEO Katherine Ryder explained that, although women make about 80% of family healthcare decisions, as the National Partnership for Women and Families explains, the tech community has notably failed to cater to this market. In fact, it wasn’t until last month that Apple added reproductive health features to its iPhone Health application.While Maven doesn't directly interface with insurance companies, it is making groundbreaking efforts in women's healthcare, and even helps users submit receipts to their insurance providers.Maven was particularly interesting to us because it highlights the digital needs and the digital transformation of the healthcare sector. At Centric Digital, we’ve been studying the opportunities for effecting this kind of change since our inception.The NY Tech Meetup was a great way to observe the new groundbreaking technological innovations happening in and around New York City. The Centric Digital team left excited and inspired…and of course, carrying plenty of startup swag.