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Brooklyn / Coworking

Williamsburg’s startups at The Yard coworking space

We spent last Friday working from The Yard - Williamsburg, and met all the technologists we could find.

From the kitchenette window at The Yard - Williamsburg. (Photo by Brady Dale)

The¬†The Yard – Williamsburg coworking space sits just north of McCarren park, one floor up. We wrote a little about the space’s founder when he spoke at a recent Brooklyn Entrepreneurs meetup.

Like many coworking spaces, it has different options for different needs. It has a general open community area, with both couch and table options, first come, first serve. It has a somewhat more private room with individual carrels. Then it has offices of different sizes, some of which are used by individuals or pairs and some that are used by small organizations. Everyone but the users of the open community area get 24/7 access to the space.

What’s really different about The Yard, for us, is that it’s in Williamsburg. We meet most of the technologists we find in Downtown or in Dumbo, but here’s some members of the community we met at further north:

The Yard - Williamsburg

The team at Madison Plus. (Photo by Brady Dale)

Madison Plus Select grew out of Aimee Cheshire’s¬†popular blog about plus-sized fashion. Madison Plus Select takes much of the taste Cheshire made popular with her blog and turned it into an ecommerce site. She teamed up with serial entrepreneur David Wechsler, now the CEO and cofounder, to turn it into a business.

Wechsler told us, “It’s going to be very much a tech play with a little bit of fashion thrown in.”

The current site, he explained, has largely been built on customizations of existing applications that nearly make it possible to run a turnkey ecommerce site. He’s using Shopify, Stitch Labs and ShipStation, all with different plug-ins thrown in and some of his own customizations.

Wechsler wants to reach a point where they can have enough data at their finger such that the site changes to meet the expected interests of its visitors.

Meredith Wade and K.C. McLeod, Vyer Films, at The Yard - Williamsburg

Meredith Wade and K.C. McLeod, cofounders of Vyer Films. (Photo by Brady Dale)

Vyer Films is a small online film distributor founded by K.C. McLeod and Meredith Wade.

In about two years, the company has acquired about 1,000 users who subscribe in order to get access to two new interesting films per month via their HTML5 based website. “If you’re 5, 15 or 25, Hollywood takes care of you,” McLeod says, but beyond that you have to hunt for yourself. A lot of people want to see new, interesting films, but don’t have the time to look. That’s what Vyer Films does for you. It keeps an eye on the festivals and independent circuits and negotiates deals to host two new films per month.

Once a film is in their site, it stays there for good. The price is $20 per month and all the movies are hosted on Amazon S3 servers.

The Yard - Williamsburg

Carl Haken. (Photo by Brady Dale)

Those who don’t want to subscribe also have the option to permanently rent a film. In other words, once you’ve paid a $15 rental fee, you can watch it anywhere you have access to the Internet. They call it a rental because you can’t download it.

Carl Haken is an IT pro for hire. We were interested in talking to him, though, because of the fascinating hardware hacks he has in his office. In this photo, you can see a special keyboard he built that sits more like your hands naturally sits. Half the keyboard is on one side of the box and half on the other. Then he has the function keys and the space bar in the middle of it, which he operates with his thumbs and are keyed to loads of macros.

What’s really interesting, though, are the glasses. You can see the glasses reflected back in the screen. They are his mouse. A camera above his computer screen follows the glasses movements. They move the cursor to wherever he is looking on the screen and then he clicks on his mouse with a foot pedal on the floor.

He said he especially liked making the software for the tracking device. “It essentially looks like a physics problem,” he told us. “The smoothing looks a lot like momentum.”

He’ll be speaking about the setup at Hackers on Planet Earth X, in July.

If you manage a Brooklyn coworking space and would like us to hang out in your space, snap some photos and talk to some of your tech tenants, please email at the address linked below.

Series: Brooklyn
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