Wow… So, where to begin? This year’s @shakeshack event, nextNY’s third annual party in Madison Square Park, was undoubtedly the best ever. There are so many people to thank and there’s so much to say about it.
First off, we had a fantastic crowd. From regulars to newbies—to local goverment celebs like City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Taylor Davidson provided photos of many of the notables as our on-site photographer.
The event also marked the end of voting for the first nextNY Community awards, made possible by the generous sponsors of the event. When the votes were in, here’s how things stood:
Top NYC tech recruiting firm Winter Wyman sponsored the award for Best Company Culture—citing the importance of understanding your own culture and maintaining a healthy environment as keys to hiring. Betaworks took the to spot with 54.3% of the vote versus Foursquare’s 32.9%. Buddy Media and Yelp had single digit returns.
The Most Valuable Angel had co-winners—tagteam Josh Stylman and Pete Hershberg beat out Chris Dixon, 44.2% to 28.8%. Steven Messer brought in 15.4% of the vote, with David Rose and Jeff Stewart rounding out the top five. NY Angels sponsored this award, continuing in its campaign to educate entrepreneurs on the importance of bringing on experienced investors.
The next category of companies really mailed it in if you ask me. BuyWithMe edged out Scoop St. 48.8% to 32.3% for the Best E-mail Driven NYC Startup, sponsored by Experian Cheetahmail.
GroupMe blew out the competition for most Buzzworthy startup, gaining 63.1% of the vote. This category was sponsored by Brew Media Relations, whose presence at the event was buzzworthy in its own right. The girls from Brew set the tone by quickly getting everyone wristbanded and checked in to the event—efficiently and with a smile. Thanks Brooke & company!
Bit.ly came from behind to overtake Hunch for Best Technology at a NYC Startup, winning with 47.3%. Tech development shop Pivotal Labs made this award possible—as did the millions of shortened links managed by the pufferfish caretakers.
The largest gains in the polls came from the Cooley sponsored Entrepreneur of the Year award, where Dennis Crowely beat out Anthony Casalena from Squarespace, as well as Nat Turner and Zack Weinberg from Invite Media.
We had support from our other sponsors as well—RRE, Spark, and First Round Capital. These firms believe in the “rising tide” theory that events like this need to happen in a thriving community and that such an ecosystem benefits them in more ways than just on the spot visability.
There was also a giveaway—Winter Wyman gave away an iPad to the person at the party who tweeted the worst interview question they ever got. That came from Jeremy Morgan. Jeremy is deaf, and an interviewer once asked him "So do you Sign or read Braille?" Ugh.
I can’t thank the staff at both the Shakeshack and the Madison Square Park Conservancy—without their efforts, I couldn’t put this event together. They make the whole operation incredibly turnkey from my perspective. Lizzie Honan and Leah Milton in particular are amazing to work with.
I think the best part of this event is the fact that the doers actually make it out for at least this one night out of the year. It’s not hard to find the Assistant Social Media Director of some agency or the junior analyst/intern at some investment firm at a party, but the people that actually make this community work—the real innovators and most accomplished folks, make it a point to carve a spot for this in their schedule. These are also the folks that never run into each other, because they’re so heads down in building their own businesses.
My hope is that it became very apparent to Speaker Quinn that we have an incredibly thriving community here—full of success stories that she should be telling wherever she goes. I introduced her to Dennis Crowely, Andy Weissman, and Anthony Casalena among others.
I hope last Wednesday’s night in the park—the only night it didn’t actually rain in NYC, was as fun for me as it was for our 300 attendees. You can thank Howard Morgan and his long range weather forecast subscription for picking the right day, because it gave me an accurate weather prediction two months out.