Communities / Technical.ly

My first night in the Brooklyn tech scene (also, hi!)

I'm the new lead reporter here at Technical.ly Brooklyn. Here's the story of my first night on the job.

MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. (Photo by Flickr user Eden, Janine and Jim, used under a Creative Commons license)

A couple weeks ago I took over as Technical.ly Brooklyn’s lead reporter and the first event I was supposed to go to was a Brooklyn Cyclones game. It was a meetup for something called Brooklyn Startup & Tech Night. That seemed like a pretty generic meetup name, and I couldn’t really find out much more about it.

Also the event didn’t tell you what section people were sitting in.

I’d dropped my phone pretty hard that afternoon and the screen was so cracked as to be actually missing chunks of screen, which did not bode well for calling the organizer. I sent a few emails asking questions to a person who, in retrospect was probably not the organizer of the event, which went unreplied to. So I ended up just taking the train down there, which, from Williamsburg, takes a solid hour and is also a wonderful ride (subways that go above ground are cool).

I also didn’t have Google Maps due to my phone being on the DL, and it struck me as funny that I would have to figure out where things were for myself once I got down there and ask people for directions and all these things that made me feel like I was in the 1970s. (Just being on Coney Island makes one feel like they’re in the 1970s, tbh.) The irony that I was a tech reporter completely stripped of my apps and even a clock, and forced to interact with humans was something, too.

#coneyisland #mcupark #brooklyncyclones #CAMBA

A photo posted by AlexanderGorlin (@alexgorlin) on Jul 16, 2015 at 4:50pm PDT

Since I didn’t know what section people would be sitting in, I bought a ticket on the street from a scalper outside the stadium. I was surprised there were scalpers for a minor league baseball game, particularly since I bought a ticket for $4 and didn’t even have to negotiate. Who says New York is expensive? I asked him how he could make a profit with revenue like that but he said he had a lot more distribution than just himself outside the stadium, mostly through craigslist and StubHub. He looked like the rapper Riff Raff.
Once I was inside I needed to find the tech group.
Usually in a situation like this I would’ve gone on my phone and Googled some of the names of the people who’d clicked “attending,” find emails for them and shoot them a note asking what section they were in, hoping they were checking their phones. But I didn’t have that really useful tool, email, so I just walked around trying to find them. I asked a lot of people who seemed to be in tech groups but were not whether they were in tech groups, and ultimately I found one guy in a plaid shirt and ill-fitting jeans who said, “Yeah!”
The game was fun. I met some really cool people. Charlie O’Donnell, the founder and sole partner of the venture capital firm Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, was there. (He organized the event.)
O’Donnell is a Brooklyn native and when he talks you can tell he’s a straight shooter. He told me about the DIY-sounding coworking space he works out of with several other Brooklyn tech people and of his desire to build this Brooklyn tech scene. Part of being at the Cyclones game was having people who might not be from Brooklyn see parts of it they wouldn’t normally. I felt so comfortable with him that I even poked some fun at him for having his Twitter handle be @ceonyc. Really? The CEO of New York? It turns out that, in fact, C.E.O. are his initials. Later, Charlie got a foul ball.

Just got my 2nd foul ball at a game! Got one here two years ago.
A photo posted by Charlie O’Donnell (@ceonyc) on Jul 9, 2015 at 5:05pm PDT

I met some great people from from the Startup Institute, like cofounder Shaun Johnson. Johnson had recently been in New Orleans and was regaling other members of the Startup Institute with stories of jazz clubs and gumbo. One of his co-workers, associate director Kelcey Gosserand, is from New Orleans, and the two of them traded stories and talked about how the complexity of the culture, the different kinds of people there, and its history, make New Orleans a place unlike any other place in the world.
All this is to say it was nice to meet people building things, dreaming, and working in Brooklyn.
One of my goals in this job is to cohere the disparate people who work in tech and Brooklyn to the extent they want, by learning and writing about the people in this scene. I think the more people know what other people are doing and what ideas they’ve got, the better. The startup life can also be lonely and can be isolating. Founders pour their lives into their projects and that doesn’t always leave time to meet people or do anything but go home and fall asleep and dream in JavaScript until waking up and doing it all over again. But at Technical.ly you can read about other founders and technologists, attend events with cool, driven people and be inspired again by the energy and intelligence of those who are creating great things in close proximity to you. And I’m always around. If you want to get a beer and tell me what you’re doing, shoot me a tweet, I’d love to meet you.

Companies: Brooklyn Bridge Ventures
Series: Brooklyn

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