A couple hundred people made their way up to the 8th floor of the Time Life Building last night to toast ten New York City-based tech startup rising stars as selected by Time Inc. There were no speeches or awards; the promoters provided the libations and nosh, and the attendees mingled while television displays overhead highlighted the ten sites.
Mark Golin, an editorial director for Time Inc. and one of the main people behind the event, said his company's internal focus on the rapidly evolving world of publishing led it to take a look at what was going on around them.
"We realized we all spend a lot of time also looking for external examples of innovation," he said. With Internet Week coming up, Golin and fellow Time Inc. executives canvassed their editors for the most exciting startups out there and whittled the list down to ten.
"You can look at, was this clever? Was this unusual? Was this never thought of," he said. "Or what you can do is look at it and go, is this going to get used?"
The sites range from a foodie curation site to touchscreen conversion software for publishers and advertisers. There was Goodsie, the new project of the Marcus brothers (of Flavors.me instant homepage platform fame) which seeks to team up merchants to provide easy, out-of-the-box e-commerce solutions, and eventually create online malls.
GroupMe also made the list. Co-founder Steve Martocci initially wanted a way to keep in constant contact with friends during the big outdoor concerts he and his friends attend. While it's still finding ways to help concert goers connect—Bonnaroo has embedded GroupMe in their iPhone and Android apps—it's used to help families stay in touch, teachers communicate with students, and businesses collaborate on projects.
One of the more impressive (and useful) new products on display was Manilla, headed up by former Hulu CEO George Kliavfkoff. Born out of Hearst's internal incubator, Manilla brings all of your accounts into one place—banking, credit cards, utility bills, magazine subscriptions, etc.—to help users go completely paperless.
"This ends up being the place that you manage all of the accounts in your household," Kliavkoff said. "It'll be like going to the end of your driveway and getting your mail." The business model means partnering companies will pay a fraction of the price of mailing and get ad space on Manilla when their customers are reviewing their accounts, as if they were visiting the payment website.
Click for the complete list of Time Inc.'s "10 NYC Startups to Watch."