Whatever’s made in Brooklyn doesn’t have to stay in Brooklyn.
In fact, it might actually shake up the art world.
At least that’s the big-picture idea behind the Make It in Brooklyn Arts + Tech Pitch Contest, where five founders from the borough’s most innovative companies got a chance to stand in front of a firing squad (okay, a thoughtful and reasonable group of judges) for the opportunity to nab $5,000 for their start-ups, no strings attached.
The ideas were wide-ranging and the pitches passionate, varying from an augmented-reality music-discovery app (you “drop” songs you enjoy in specific locations and others can pick them up) to a next-level platform for writers inspired by popular Chinese publishers.
Since these products can’t actually be consumed, the event felt less Shark Tank and more Planet of the Apps. Seventy companies applied for the opportunity to pitch at the eighth Make It in BK event; only five were chosen. As Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Regina Myer said, the purpose of the event is to “celebrate bringing the arts and technology together.” There was no better venue for that than A/D/O, a gorgeous co-working and event space in Greenpoint.
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership hosts the series, underwritten by JPMorgan Chase, while Blue Seed Collective offers up the prize money. The winner was also set to receive free legal counsel from Brooklyn Law School—a nice perk for a new start-up.
It’s a little challenging to pitch a tech-based idea without visuals, but the founders did an admirable job interpreting their visions for the judge and audience. While the judges seemed to find all of the companies intriguing, they were especially interested in unique and scalable ideas. The judges: De Angela Duff, co-director and an industry associate professor of integrated digital media at NYU Tandon School of Engineering; Jon Vanhala, managing director of Crossfade Partners; Joni Saylor, design principal at IBM; Catherine Levene, co-Founder at Cat Perkins; and J.J. Casper, founder of Blue Seed Collective.
After deliberation in A/D/O’s art-filled courtyard, the judges gave the $5,000 grand prize to … drumroll please … PicFic, saying that it had the potential to be totally new and different from its competition. Read on to find out more about Brooklyn’s talented marriages between the art and tech worlds.