If you are an entrepreneur doing business in New York City, then chances are you’ve heard of StrtupBoost. Founded in 2014 by Jason Malki, the organization has hosted scores of events designed to bring together all the different players in the NYC startup community. Jason describes StrtupBoost as “an ecosystem” comprised of mixers, panel discussions, expos and other types of events that give startup teams the chance to meet and connect with investors and other resources vital to their development. They present 24 events a year, and have amassed a following of somewhere around 30,000 people! Clearly, if you are connected in any way to the startup community, then you’ll want to check them out, if you haven’t already…
I recently had a chance to sit down with Jason to talk about the upcoming, first annual 33 Under 33 Awards, which he is producing.
So what are the 33 Under 33 Awards? They are, simply, an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of some of the best, most innovative individuals currently doing business in the New York City startup space. Nominations have come from members of the startup community, who will then vote on their favorites in 11 different categories, including the following: B2B Tech (Angel/Seed Only), B2B Tech (Series A & Beyond), B2C Tech (Series A & Beyond), Venture Capitalist, Developer/Dev Shop, Fortune 500 & Professionals Integrated with Startup Ecosystem, Social Media (Twitter, FB, Instagram, Youtube), Marketing/Advertising/PR/Sales, Events (Venue, Event Production, Community Organizers) and Legal & Accounting. Voting closes on August 6th, and the celebration takes place on August 8th.
Among the nominees are the heads of a couple of really interesting companies that caught my eye. One is called University Beyond. Co-founder Doug Messer was nominated in the category of B2B Tech (Angel/Seed Only). University Beyond connects college students with jobs at leading startups and major brands. A few of their more successful campaigns have included assembling student ambassador teams for the likes of Amazon and Mountain Dew. The company is allowing brands to successfully recruit younger, enthusiastic talent while offering qualified college students access to well-paying jobs while still in school.
One particularly innovative company is Call9, represented by Co-founder and CTO, XiaoSong Mu, nominated for best in the category of B2B Tech (Series A & Beyond). Call9 offers bedside medical consults with emergency physicians and clinical care providers to residents at skilled nursing facilities, via its unique tele-EM platform. By providing this kind of super quick intervention and oversight, Call9 is able to significantly cut down on unnecessary visits to the emergency room. In 2016, during its first year in operation, they were able to avert ER visits in 78% of the 1300 calls they received. This year, they are already signing contracts with several of New York State’s largest insurance payors.
I met up with Jason at Workville, the co-working space where he has his office. In fact, Sue Bernstock, President of Workville, is another one of the fabulous entrepreneurs who has been nominated for an award, in the category of Events (Venue, Event Production, Community Organizers)! No surprise there, as Workville is one of those places that emanates a positive vibe from the minute you walk in… and it doesn’t take long to realize that this spirit trickles down directly from Sue and Co-founder, D.J. Dashti.
The startup world is known for industry disruption, innovation and overall creativity. This year, Jason said, he's seeing a lot of exciting activity in the areas of AI (artificial intelligence) and blockchain technology. A blockchain, to the best of my understanding, is a decentralized digital ledger that facilitates the security of financial transactions and other confidential information transfer. An oversimplification, to be sure, but this is the kind of thing you can learn about when you are mixing it up with folks on the cutting edge of new ideas and businesses.
We all know that this kind of information exchange as well as the start of the best working relationships often happen in social situations. And what better environment than a fun celebration that brings together the best and the brightest to honor their achievements? The kind of community spirit that Jason has fostered with Strtup Boost and now with the 33 Under 33 Awards is, in my opinion, essential to supporting the kind of passion and commitment necessary in any startup venture. I’m pretty sure the idea of someone achieving great success by going it alone is some kind of myth - we all need our peeps to make things work!
Looking forward to the 33 Under 33 Awards ceremony next Tuesday night, and to more of this kind of social activity in general, to keep the startup community fresh and vibrant!