19 New York Start-Ups

I was on the job market for the past couple of months and I took a very expansive approach to the search, taking an average of 5 networking meetings per day, every day, with essentially anyone who would meet with me. And in every meeting I would ask the same question: “What’s going on in New York that’s really cool and exciting?” And you know what, there’s lots of amazing stuff going on in New York! 


Now that I have a job, I thought I’d give a shout out to all the companies I’ve chatted with, met, heard about, etc along with my own plain-English description of what they do (along with a little snark). This isn’t a comprehensive guide to NY start-ups, but rather a window into some “movers and shakers,” many of which may not be on your radar.

Adaptly: Platform for buying and analyzing social advertising. A leader in a hot market. Winner: Coolest website navigation.

Art.sy: Pandora for fine art. The only start-up with art historians on staff, they classify works along a comprehensive taxonomy to allow discovery of art within galleries. Winner: Best office view. 

Fancy Hands: Outsourced personal assistant chores like “order me a car service to get to JFK”. Winner: Best company name.

Innovid: Online video advertising is exploding, but advertisers and agencies lack tools for measuring and controlling their spend. Innovid gives a single view for all video advertising across the web and mobile. Disclosure: I am an advisor. Winner: Right idea at right time.

Intent Media: Imagine showing ads for your competitors on your own website, and making a coherent business case on why this is a good idea. Sounds crazy, but this is exactly what Intent Media has done in the travel vertical – showing ads for Expedia on Travelocity and vice-versa. Winner: Most dogs in office.

Jirafe: Jirafe offers eCommerce merchants an advanced dashboard for gaining insights into their sales, marketing, and operations. Winner: Worst office (aka, most frugal. Seriously, when they’re not coding the Jirafe team must torture POWs or butcher livestock in their office.)

LiveIntent: Advertising within email newsletters has been a notoriously difficult market and most of that inventory goes under-monetized. LiveIntent has solved this problem and is creating a marketplace for display-style advertising within emails. Winner: Best jerky.


LongTail Video: Which video player is the most common across the web? YouTube? How about the JW Player, an open-sourced video player owned by LongTail Video. LongTail gives away the player for free, then upsells small and medium-sized publishers on video hosting, advertising services, etc. Winner: Best no-brainer exit.

Lua: Collaboration software specifically designed for multiple-location projects like concerts or movie productions. Very slick, very usable application across devices. Winner: Best t-shirt.

Magnetic: Harvests intent and search data from many, many websites and uses it to better target ads across the web. Winner: Best company name.

Percolate: Percolate makes sure that social media messaging is on-brand by analyzing and calibrating the social influences of a brand then recommending items for the social media manager to post. This sounds simple, but is actually quite important to the CMO and the rest of the marketing organization. Winner: Best idea you’re likely to ridicule before you understand why it’s important.

PlaceIQ: Short description: PRIZM for mobile. Longer description: They’ve divided the US into 100 yard squares and can identify consumer characteristics within each square such as income, gender, at-home vs at-work audience, etc. Very useful for mobile advertising. Winner: Most likely to remember the difference between latitude and longitude.

Pricing Engine: Lots of companies help small businesses spend money online, but Pricing Engine tells them how much and where they should be spending money by benchmarking their AdWords and Bing accounts against similarly-situated small businesses. Disclosure: I am an advisor. Winner: Best logo/mascot (mad advertising professor).


Rewind.me: Mobile App that lets you collect all your social data in one place to make it more useful. What restaurants have you or your friends ever checked into in this neighborhood? Winner: Most likely to be a service I personally use.

SailThru: Customized email and onsite offers for media companies and eCommerce. Unlike traditional email providers (e.g. ExactTarget, Responsys), they don’t segment your audience then send different offers to each segments. Instead they personalize the emails in real-time and match the messaging to your latest on-site activity. Winner: Best office hammock.


TayKey: Figure out what topics are trending on the Internet, figure out which type of people are interested in those topics, then very quickly target ads to those topics. Winner: CEO most likely to make you feel old.

TapAd: Target and measure advertising across mobile and desktop screens based on proprietary algorithms. Disclosure: I am an advisor. Winner: Company name most likely to be used in a hip-hop lyric.

Yext: Keeping business listings up to date across Yelp, FourSquare, and everywhere else is a significant problem for retail businesses. Yext does it for you, and is making bank doing so. Winner: Most upbeat boiler room.

YieldBot: Publishers don’t use the majority of their on-site data to target ads. YieldBot finds the relevant data on the site and targets it like search, instead of display. Winner: Best cute little robot give-aways.