(Photo by Brian James Kirk)
More than 150 of Brooklyn’s brightest startuppers, artists, nonprofit-ers, coders and designers converged last night at the WeWork in Dumbo Heights for the second annual Brooklyn Innovation Awards.
Perhaps the most conspicuous and most telling part of the night was the diversity of thought in the room, and what that means for the Brooklyn tech scene.
Diversity and the tech sector have a fraught history, but something we kept overhearing in conversation after conversation was how nice it is to have artists and coders and government and businesspeople in the same room, with similar interests. Numerous comparisons to San Francisco and even Manhattan were made, with the point being that it was a night where diversity meant not LinkedIn and Facebook and Google, but people coming from very different schools of thought and experience. Eight of the 15 winners last night were women or came from female-led companies.
Building a community is hard work and people have to opt in. That’s why it was such a pleasure to walk through the event and hear social impact leaders talking to coders, real estate developers interested in coworking spaces talking to designers or internet artists talking to urban farmers. So many startuppers here are head down in their computers 14 hours a day, hustling, grinding, making it happen. But what people find, when they come up for air, is that they live in a place abundant in resources, thriving with creative ideas. And the more people help each other, the better everyone does.
A non-trivial number of the people in the room last night will be mega successful and famous in the next five to 10 years. It’s rewarding for us to be able to be on the ground floor, writing about them when no one knows who they are and awarding the tremendous work they do.
Last night was good.
Entrepreneur of the Year: Allison Kopf
— Allison Kopf (@allisonkopf) January 6, 2017
Scientist of the Year: Danielle Trofe
— Danielle Trofe (@DanielleTrofe) January 6, 2017
Tech Mission Org of the Year: Brooklyn Public Library
— Story Bellows (@storybellows) January 6, 2017
Maker Space of the Year: Genspace
— Ellen Jorgensen (@FeyScientist) January 6, 2017
Colocation Community of the Year: Made in NY Media Center
We won! ???? Thanks to all of you who voted! ?? pic.twitter.com/hzPeGGSGut
— NY Media Center (@NYMediaCenter) January 6, 2017
Tech Startup of the Year: Paperspace
— Future Labs (@NYUFutureLabs) January 6, 2017
Design/Dev Firm of the Year: Pensa
— Pensa (@thinkpensa) January 6, 2017
Best Web/Mobile Product of the Year: Croissant
— Nisha Garigarn (@nishsticks) January 6, 2017
Artist/Creative Group of the Year: Swale
Civic Startup of the Year: Propel
Product of the Year: EcoHelmet
Thinker of the Year: Francis Tseng
Indie Video Game of the Year: Two Dots
Tech Business of the Year: Livestream
Technologist of the Year: Veronika Harbick