Judging the Design Class at ITP

I was thrilled to be asked to judge the final projects for the design class at ITP this year.  There were four different groups that pitched. 

The first one is WalkIt.  I had seen them pitch before at the ITP Pitchfest and was truly impressed with how much that had happened since then.   I love what they are doing.  Walkit is an online platform that allows anyone to create a neighborhood map.  Their tag line is mapping with a soul.  Anyone can use it, the maps are crowd sourced, you can search, create and share maps.  You can put it on a handheld or print out a map that fits in the pocket of your pants or palm of your hand.  The idea is to deliver the possibility of roads less traveled.  Very smart.

The second pitch was from Urban Insider.  The idea here is to create serendipitous connections to bring people outside their network to give advice on life in the city.  User generated content.  Here are two tips they used to show how the site would work.  "Coffee "regular" means caffeinated coffe with milk and sugar" and "Don't eat anywhere near Times Square unless it's a dire emergency".  Their concept is simple; New Yorkers = Generous know-it-alls.  Didn't love this business and it was definitely not flushed out but keep in mind the whole process to get to the end is 14 weeks from soup to nuts.

The third pitch was MemoLink.  This is a web-based application designed for people with Early Stage Alzheimers and Milk Cognitive Impairment.  These guys did serious research.  MemoLink does three main functions; calendar, contacts and games.  Games seem to be a key way to keep the brain functioning as well as conversation and contact.  I was impressed that a group of young people were thinking about this issue but again the idea wasn't completely flushed out.

The last one was Bondfire.  Gathering friends together to took in a reserved kitchen.  Think Zipcars for kitchen space.  Lots of questions on this one and wasn't so sure they weren't taking a square and trying to push it in a hole.  Food is definitely the center of everything these days but I am not so sure I see people renting out kitchens to create a dinner party so often that it could create a revenue opportunity.

All and all, loved to see the ideas, the research, the pitch and the people.  Hope to do this again next year!



Comments (Archived):

  1. Germainsteven

    I have a serious question: this reminds me of the tech bubble when every day there was a new idea tossed around seriously without any regard for either the need for the product/idea or the revenue/profit viability. And boy did the ideas flow – investing ideas generated by the “community”; urban hipster “social communities”; incubators; you name it someone pitched it and I think about 98 percent folded within a year. Most of these little niche concepts cannot possibly last long and are not likely to make any investment return. Am i missing something?

    1. Gotham Gal

      you aren’t missing a thing. i am thrilled to see many ideas and peoplewanted to become entrepreneurs and masters of their own destiny. not sothrilled to see many ideas being funded that have no shot in hell becoming areal business.

      1. Germainsteven

        I guess I am less sanguine about the master of your own destiny movement than you are. I see a lot of young people hoping to strike it rich as their driving force with little or no thought about anything much deeper than that. A little like the proverbial mid western girl taking a bus to Hollywood to become a “star”. I see trouble for them down the road. If I see any light among the 9/11 generation it is not with those who are seeking the “good life” through social networking but those who are steeping back and saying wait a minute and asking why they are doing what they are doing. Those are the kids who maybe value an education as more than a drinking fest and go to community college for two years and then transfer to a four year school, or the kids who are dropping out for a while and living simply outside of cities, or the kids who are content to become teachers even though there is no glamor in the classroom – the kds who realize that in fact we are not the masters of our own destinys – that is just not real and if 9/11 taught us anything it is that we need to keep it real because things can and do show us that we are not the boss of us in an instant. But whatever, if people think that trying to become the one in a million next zuckerberg will make them happy I do not judge it. I just wonder what the point is – to make more money than you need? Why? (By the way, if it innapproriate of me to try and engage in this discussion by posting here please feel free to both let me know and to not post this. I notice that most blogs seem to be followed by people who have identical world views so there is little back and forth – more like just a lot of self affirming reinforcement as if questioning assumptions is somehow rude.)

        1. Gotham Gal

          feel free to comment, absolutely.i am not so sure it is about striking rich as it is a life style and doingsomething you love. any opportunity or experience is worthwhile. sloggingit through a start-up for three years that never succeeds isn’t necessarilya failure but an experience to grow on. there is nothing wrong withthinking your biz will be the one that is going to be successful. if youdon’t have those thoughts, you will never succeed. but to realistic to whatthe market is telling you and when to exit and figure out the next step iskey too.working for 30 years for one company is not the future. figuring out tohave a balanced life style is easier when you are master of your own destiny

          1. Germainsteven

            Ah, I think I see your point. That it is not about the money per se, it is about lifestyle which I take to mean that the cultural gold ring is viewed as a Job (capital J) not just a job (lower case j). In other words, in the old days having a good job at say, Macy’s was a legit aspiration, now it is to get in on the ground floor of Gilt. I guess that makes some sense, sort of, but I am not sure. I need to think about it more. I guess I could even agree with your master of destiny concept priovded that is lower case because there is more to life than the illusion of control, has to be – whether it’s money or beauty or success, we all need to figure out what really matters (not easy to do and I do not think it is any of those things).

          2. Gotham Gal