7 Unsung Heroes in New York’s Startup Community

source: written about Jon in Brooklyn Mag

Alison Tugwell is the community marketing manager at Startup Institute New York. Startup Institute’s eight-week program gives individuals the skills, mindset, and network to find a job and thrive in a startup. They’re having a free info-session on February 4th at 6:30. Register on Eventbrite.

It is no secret that NYC’s startup community is bustling and chock-full of VC visionaries, crowd-sourced royalty, and ingenue-turned-entrepreneurs made possible by platforms like Quirky (HQ’d in Chelsea) and Etsy (with digs in DUMBO).  It’s not that the media darlings do not deserve their press (most of the time), but what about those behind the scenes?

The New York startup community has countless ‘unsung heroes’ who aren’t just selling a service, but are serving others in the spirit of making NYC tech stronger and more enriching.  These people don’t always see the limelight, but they’re the ones who deserve it most. We’re calling out seven of these heroes who are building and bridging connections.

Jason Czismadi via Flickr cc

1. Alice Cook, Co-founder of AXS Map

Self-described as “Yelp for people with disabilities to help them find accessible places,” Cook, and her now-husband, Jason Dasilva, started developing AXS Map in Brooklyn after Dasilva was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. They realized there was no place to go to find local handicap-friendly establishments all on one site. Now, they’re also making moves with a cool feature called Mapathon that lets you compete and fundraise by hitting up the most accessible spots in your neighborhood.

As if this isn’t awesome enough, the couple also brought awareness to MS when they filmed, wrote, & co-produced Dasilva’s everyday struggles and triumphs with the debilitating disease in When I Walk.

2. Liz David, Program Coordinator at Techstars

Liz is what you may call a power-renaissance woman, aka, a post-modern maven that moves and shakes and does whatever it takes to get the job done. Liz is dedicated to seeing New York’s young companies grow to be big and strong, heading logistics for five (FIVE!) accelerators that are powered by the Techstars platform and network. She is the nexus for what is next on the NYC startup agenda. Liz has a passion for those organizations igniting change via education and healthcare. This woman is doing amazing things to grow New York tech. Tweet at her and tell her she’s awesome.

3. Tim Flannery, Founder of Startup Rockclimbing

Tim built seed-stage venture firm, Pilot Mountain Ventures, from the ground up to help NYC tech grow. His love of entrepreneurship, forging relationships, and rugged outdoor sports led him to launch Startup Rockclimbing out of Brooklyn Boulders, making the New York startup community stronger in more than one way. From event series to early-stage companies, Tim is scaling more than just rock walls, and that is pretty solid.

4. Jon Chang, Social Media Content Specialist at MakerBot

Jon’s evangelism for the NYC startup scene is evident in his commitment to community via his work in social media & education. He creates the stories and buzz for MakerBot and is an adjunct lecturer for General Assembly. Jon clearly has a thing for shaping the next generation leaders of NY tech, as he will be joining the ranks at Startup Institute to teach in our technical marketing track this spring.

5.  Sumeet Shah, Senior Associate at Brand Foundry Ventures

Sumeet is helping to grow the maker movement. He’s investing in young inventors via Kiwi Crates’ maker kits and supporting sustainable farm-raised innovation with Barnraiser. And his awesome work on the Brand Foundry Collective aims to create stronger relationships and uses this great network to further enrich the NYC startup ecosphere as a whole.  His thoughts on the emerging Brooklyn tech scene?  He says it is “just getting started.”  Sumeet believes in Brooklyn, and his support has it poised to be a powerhouse.

6 & 7.  Brian Brennan & Jed Schmidt, Co-Organizers of BrooklynJS

Brian’s official job title (trusting that LinkedIn never lies) is Senior Hot Sauce taster, and he and his co-organizer Jed Schmidt get developers hungry for his monthly BrooklynJS events.  BrooklynJS aims to spotlight and share projects that developers are solving via technology in a very human way. From the NYC rat problem to using code to decipher company culture, the lightning talks (with musical interludes) are more than just the sum of its scripts. Proceeds go to ScriptEd, which equips students in under-resourced schools with skills and access to careers in technology.

The list above is just a small sample of the many unsung heroes in the New York startup community. We’re sure you know many more awesome people like them who are making NYC tech better and stronger. Cheers! This one goes out to them.

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