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Deputy Mayor Glen, NYCEDC President Kimball and NFTE Announce Winners of NYC GenTech 2014

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Grand Prize Awarded to OPUS, a Unique Job Marketplace That Connects Unemployed and Inexperienced Youth to Small Businesses in Need of Support

New York (Sept, 2014): Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President Kyle Kimball and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) today announced that OPUS was awarded the grand prize at the NYC Generation Tech (GenTech) Demo Night. The City’s GenTech program is designed to provide high school students across New York City with education and mentorship in technology and entrepreneurship, and to inspire them to become a part of the City’s growing tech ecosystem, a source of nearly 300,000 jobs. The team members of OPUS were awarded $5,000 to be used to further develop their app idea or to invest in their educations, as well as the opportunity to pitch their app idea to partners at the venture capital firm Union Square Ventures. GenTech is operated by NYCEDC in partnership with the NFTE, an international non-profit organization providing entrepreneurship training and education programs to young people from low-income urban communities.

Over eight weeks during the summer, the program’s 47 student participants, representing all five boroughs, received advanced coding instruction and learned the principles of entrepreneurship—enabling them to create an app and build a business around it, and preparing them for future internships and careers in the City’s tech ecosystem. The winning app, OPUS, connects students to businesses and allows them to gain professional experience. OPUS provides a unique job marketplace for unemployed and inexperienced youth, helping students gain skills and expertise while assisting local small businesses with their day-to-day operations. 

“GenTech embodies the City’s efforts to nurture the tech ecosystem and the talent that underpins it, and to make New York’s tech sector look more like New York City,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “As a parent, I couldn’t be more proud of the students who participated in GenTech this year. The apps and business plans that they have created are nothing short of remarkable. Whether or not they take home a prize tonight, all the GenTech participants will walk away winners, with the confidence and skills to help put them on a new path of study and careers in tech—and the potential to be New York City’s tech leaders of the future.”

“The accomplishments of GenTech’s participants are inspirational and rewarding to witness,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “We are dedicated to ensuring that the City’s next generation is on the path to high-wage, quality jobs, and that it’s homegrown New Yorkers like these from across the boroughs who provide the talent that powers our tech ecosystem. As we continue to cultivate this growing source of economic opportunity, we know that the GenTech students are on their way to becoming the great inventors, entrepreneurs, and business builders of tomorrow’s City.”

GenTech’s winners were selected tonight at the NYC GenTech Demo Night held at the AppNexus office in Manhattan.  The students demoed their mobile app prototypes and pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges comprised of leaders from New York City’s tech community.  As part of this year’s GenTech App Challenge, student teams created mobile apps and business plans that enrich the way New Yorkers live, work, learn or play.  Teams learned to code in HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, and each created a mobile app prototype, business plan, and pitch presentation with the help of mentors from New York City’s tech community.

“NFTE New York Metro is proud to stand with our partners at NYCEDC, Microsoft, and DYCD to present the third year of the outstanding tech entrepreneurship program, NYC Generation Tech,” said NFTE New York Metro Executive Director Terry Bowman. “Dozens of deserving and talented NYC students have now gone through GenTech and as a result see themselves and their career options in an entirely new and exciting light. NFTE has been a leader in entrepreneurship teaching and learning for over 25 years and GenTech is one of our most impactful new programs. We especially value it because it not only teaches young people to code and develop functioning apps but also to build a business plan around those app ideas, so that students emerge with two skill sets that will be critical for success in a 21st Century economy. We congratulate the outstanding Class of 2014 GenTech participants and look forward to many more years of GenTech.”

 “DYCD and our Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) were proud to support GenTech and its tech-savvy participants this summer,” said New York City Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong. “Our City’s young people will play a critical role in shaping the future of technology, and these programs teach them invaluable technical and soft skills today so they are prepared for the hi-tech careers of tomorrow.”

 “We are proud to support NYC Generation Tech for the third year in a row,” said Antuan Santana, Operations and Community Manager at Microsoft. “Microsoft is committed to connecting young people around the world to technology in order to address problems we all face, and through our Youth Spark initiative and programs like GenTech, we get to see the impact of teaching young people to both understand how technology works and how to use it wisely. GenTech has already made a huge difference in the lives of dozens of deserving NYC students, and Microsoft is committed to continuing to serve more students through the program and to its alumni through internships and other training. Congratulations GenTech on three great years and best wishes for many more.”

In addition to the grand prize winners, a second place prize of $2,000 and a business consultation with Deloitte was awarded to the team of Vocap, a mobile app that allows students to improve their foreign languages skills and proficiency by teaching them vocabulary through engaging videos.

A third place prize of $1,000 and a consultation with the public relations firm Hotwire was awarded to the team of MTAlarm, which wakes users up in accordance with subway schedules and delays by providing a live MTA status feed, incoming train schedule and a NYC subway map.

An Audience Choice Award of $500 was awarded to Neuron, which created an app that allows New York City college students to offer, find, and exchange their textbooks with fellow students across the city. 

Expert judges from New York City's tech community evaluated the winners on criteria including the quality of their written business plan, pitch presentation, and functionality of their app. The panel of final judges included:

  • Indrani Deb, Senior Manager, Corporate Strategy, Verizon Communications
  • John Paul Farmer, Director of Technology & Civic Innovation, Microsoft
  • Chris Fralic, Partner, First Round Capital
  • Carol Kruse, Former Chief Marketing Officer, Tough Mudder and ESPN
  • Tonya Lewis Lee, Co-Chief Creator, ToniK Productions and Founder and Editor in Chief, HealthyYouNow.com
  • Serkan Piantino, Site Director (NYC) and Director of Engineering, Facebook
  • Ramon Ray, Small Business Evangelist, Infusionsoft & Smallbiztechnology.com 

Over 35 partners from the City’s tech ecosystem supported the NYC Generation Tech program by providing mentors, guest speakers and in-kind and financial support, including Microsoft as a core financial supporter, Deloitte, which donated laptops for the students, and AppNexus, Warby Parker, LivePerson, Google, MasterCard Worldwide, NASDAQ OMX, SideTour, Floored and numerous others. This year, GenTech was supported for the first time by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development as part of its Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and Ladders for Leaders programs, which supported stipends and pre-employment training for many students.

GenTech launched this year with an intensive two-week summer bootcamp in July, followed by six weeks of mentorship sessions, where all nine teams met twice weekly with a cohort of over 50 mentors who coached them on app development and business planning.  The semi-finals competition last week narrowed down the nine teams to three finalists who presented at the final Demo Night competition.  To be eligible for the program, students must attend a high school in New York City at which 50% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, or must themselves qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

This year, all GenTech participants will participate in a college and career counseling session to explore options to apply their tech talent to future education and career plans. GenTech also hosted two hackathons earlier this year, held at Microsoft, which invited any high school student from across the City to join participants in creating app prototypes that solved a specific challenge related to improving life in New York City. Launched in 2012, GenTech is part of the City’s larger effort to grow the City’s $125 billion tech ecosystem, a source of nearly 300,000 well-paying jobs, and promote entrepreneurship across all sectors of the economy.

On Tuesday September 16, 2014, Mayor de Blasio also announced the winners of NYC BigApps 2014, a competition for the tech and civic sectors to create apps that make New York City a better place to live, work, learn and play.