NYC BigApps Winners Announced

2010-02-04 20.07.36 I've posted about the NYC BigApps contest a few times here. And you all helped me with my chore of judging all 85 apps. Thank you for that.

Last night I walked up The Highline to IAC Headquarters to attend an event where the winners were announced. 

I also manned the "Investors Bar" where a number of fellow venture and angel investors sat and talked to the entrepreneurs in attendance. Kind of like the genius bar, but the geniuses were on the other side lining up to talk to us.

The winners were (cutting and pasting from the NY Times here):


WayFinder NYC: An application designed for smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system allows users to find the closest subway entrance. It uses an approach known as augmented reality, overlaying subway line symbols on a live view through the phone’s camera.

Taxihack: Like Yelp for cabs, this Web tool allows people to post comments on individual taxis and their drivers via e-mail or Twitter.

Big Apple Ed: This Web-based guide offers detailed profiles, reviews and information about the city’s network of public schools.

NYC Way that offers a range of information for city residents and visitors, took home the “Popular Choice” award, determined by an online vote.


I use Wayfinder on my Google phone. It is a very cool app that combines mapping and augmented reality to get you to the nearest subway. I also really like Taxihack. You can email or twitter about your cab driver right from the cab.

Two other "apps" that I liked very much which got honorable mentions but no awards were Actuatr and Push Pin Web. These are both developer tools which make the often messy data from government agencies much easier to develop apps with. Better tools will lead to better apps.

I got to meet the teams behind ParkShark, PrimoSpot, Taxihack, NYC Way, UpNext, NYCPRO, HistoryBus, NYCSamosa, SpokesNYC, and a few more that I can't recall. It was a bit crazy at the Investor Bar last night.

I also came home with my android phone stocked full of mobile apps like PrimoSpot and Always Prompt, both of which I bought last night and am looking forward to using to help me with the daily grind.

Finally, I'd like to say that it was a thrill to see the mayor up there on stage with NYC entrepreneurs. He's the most successful tech entrepreneur in NYC but we don't see him very much in the tech scene. We need more role models, as I talked about here, and he's the best we've got in NYC. I hope he spends more time with us this term.

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#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. centernetworks

    Congrats to all of the winners and bigtime congrats to everyone who participated. I posted about all of the winners last night:http://www.centernetworks.c…I am excited to see what happens with the next version and hope they will involve more parties in the judging process. I did everything I could to support this contest and, as always, will do everything I can to support all efforts of NYC startups.

    1. fredwilson

      more judges is a good idea Allen. and maybe a few less apps for each judge to consider. it’s really hard to give 85 apps a serious shake down.

      1. centernetworks

        agree – i think we need to get more areas involved – i spoke up when the judges were announced – maybe you saw what I said – no need to repeat it now – the key for this effort is visibility – let’s take the lessons learned here on the inagural competition and make the next one even a transit junkie, i am really excited to see what we can do with the mta now that they are supporting developers.

        1. fredwilson

          No transit apps in this contest, right allen?

      2. Mark Essel

        Big time cost. But an excellent way to meet up with a BIG group of excited and creative developers.

  2. Louis Berlan

    “Local” apps are a very interesting trend – all part of the increasing connection between the web and “real life”, which is happening through mobile.From a business sense it’ll be interesting to see whether it stays as indiividual teams/devs working on apps in different “verticals” for their home city, or whether one company tries to replicate the same app throughout different cities.My thinking is we’ll start out with teams who know the needs, governements, and information sources of their city.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a good observation. a lot of the app developers had some connection to the gov’t.

    2. fredwilson


  3. ErikSchwartz

    I’ve been goofing off with Augmented Reality since last summer (mostly using Layar’s API). While the apps I have built are cool (as are many others), I’m not sure they get beyond the “neat” phase and rise to the level of “the best way to solve the problem”. I’m sure there are niches (I’m shocked that no has built the AR golf course app). But for instance for a subway finder a compass arrow with a big green circle with a 6 on it or a blue square with an A and a distance is more useful that something I have to hold up to my face and spin my body around to use.I’m also somewhat troubled by the fact that they’re hard to use discreetly and what that might do to adoption.

    1. fredwilson


  4. kidmercury

    regarding bloomberg, check the link below, wearechange brutally pounces on bloomberg for trying to pass an unconstitutional law banning cameras….thankfully bloomberg decided to step back off that law……of course there are still many matters related to 9/11, such as the firefighters who continue to receive die to inadquate health care coverage the government is providing (this is after the govt lied to them and told them to run into buildings that were set to be exploded), that bloomberg needs to do a better job of addressing. check bloomberg being confronted on the subway:…here’s some more links too on bloomberg:http://www.kidmercuryblog.c

  5. Dhru Purohit

    TaxiHack sounds great, and I’ll have to try it, but i’d say about 95% of my cab rides are not worthy of comment. They are just fine.Great write up Fred

    1. Mark Essel

      Same here, but I usually walk most of the day in Manhattan. This time of year I’d ride though.

    2. fredwilson

      you can give a cab driver props too

      1. Randy Meech

        Absolutely! I built it thinking it would be more idle chit-chat and fun, but of course complaining gives you an instant gratification too. When I use it now, I include my location with the tweet (because it shows up on a map), and just treat it like a normal tweet with an added layer on top. I’ll also call out a driver for knowing a shortcut, etc.There’s a recent trend of taxi drivers using it too, presumably while parked. This guy was threatening to tweet about passengers, which would have been hilarious:

  6. Ram

    All the best for the winners and Fred if you have to mention some drawbacks of these apps (any common ones or any specific ones which needs some improvements or focus), even the top apps.. it can be of helpful for them as well as the other app developers to avoid

    1. Mark Essel

      They probably get the constructive criticism privately, but it would be interesting to see what the judges had to say specifically. But there were way too many apps to compare.

    2. fredwilson

      Augmented reality is cool (and helped the winner win) but its largely useless as a ui element with the current implementations

  7. Rich Ullman

    Funny. when I read your Tweet, I thought, “”Bloomberg is the King of the NYC Entrepreneurs.” Yeah… you got to that point. :)This is just the sort of thing that government should be doing to both include and “leverage” the smarts of its people. (although that sounds a little odd). The results, based on your post, speak for themselves.Thanks.

  8. andyswan

    Taxihack is one killer feature away from mass adoption, and a revenue model:The Cone of Freshness

    1. Mark Essel

      Haha, that they could use. Imagine a cab service that differentiated on cleanliness (different color?).

    2. fredwilson

      what is that feature?

      1. andyswan

        You must have skipped over that line of my comment: “The cone of freshness”

    3. Tereza

      Maybe a simple Odor Leaderboard will do the trick. Or is that the Leader Odorboard? No, uh… Odor, Overboard?

    4. Dave Pinsen

      If any of those air cleaners works as well as the manufacturers say, installing them in NYC taxis would be a great marketing tack: “Our air purifier even makes the air in this taxi smell fresh.”.

  9. Mark Essel

    Who doesn’t love an army of entrepreneurial souls all attacking a problem space? I’m impressed at how fast the teams came up with apps. Really shows how little up front money is needed to probe for traction. I take back my earlier distrust of government entanglement for startups. It just has to be a public API 🙂

  10. steven goldman

    Taxihack sounds great! I absolutely hate getting into a cab and finding out the ‘car’ smells like bo and can barley breath for 5 minutes…As for Primospot I am a huge fan! I have been using it for a few years since before it was a mobile app. I always use it when planing my day and on the go parking.

  11. ShanaC

    I’m glad the developer tools got honorable mentions. Tools are always good.Though Taxihack is kind of fun. it makes me feel like I am spying on the taxis though…Do you think any of these apps will be closer to mass adoption because of the contest?That seems to me to be a good measure how popular local apps can be…they’ve had publicity what will happen next?

  12. Joe Siewert

    Thanks for the update on the contest. Was fun to follow. Are there any plans to run another similar contest or push out more government data to use?

    1. fredwilson

      There will be lots of these. They work

  13. Tereza

    Fabulous time! Amazing group of people in a single room, and priceless conversations.Totally worth the babysitter OT.

  14. ErikSchwartz

    I am installing Always Prompt on my wife’s phone.

  15. Will

    Bloomberg is a genius, he is the ultimate librarian…………. most people don’t think of him as an entrepreneur really, but in the past 20 years he has probably been one of the most successful and he has actually created a company that has lasted.

  16. Rob K

    I wonder why the Mayor takes such a low profile in the tech scene. He could be a big influence if he wanted to be.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t think he looks at himself as a tech entrepreneur (he is)i think he looks at himself as a wall street guy (he is that too)

  17. Charles Birnbaum

    I hope that mayor Bloomberg continues to correctly recognize and promote the tech community here in NY because that will help the city remain on top. I grew up in manhattan before the banker-driven bulge and would love to see certain neighborhoods regain their character. Replacing finance yuppies (unfortunately i used to be one) with people who live and breath technology would help.

  18. gorbachev

    BookZee FTW!

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. Bookzee and big apple ed are great and I did not mean to dis them with a lack of mention

  19. Howard Lerman

    Fred, the mayor as a tech entrepreneur is a brilliant distinction… NYC _does_ have the perfect model.

    1. fredwilson

      If we could only convince him that his true peers are gates, jobs, ellison, brin/page, etc instead of wall street moguls

  20. Ed Martin

    TaxiHack? Seriously?? It’s a cab.

  21. Peter Cetinski

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss ParkShark at the Investor Bar, Fred. You are a gentleman. While we didn’t win any prizes, the experience was invaluable and I highly encourage other developers to participate in future competitions. Meeting the team members of our competitor’s apps was the highlight of the night for me.

    1. fredwilson

      I love the idea behind parkshark

  22. Josh Pierro

    Fred, I would also like to thank you for talking to me at the investor bar. And, I agree with Peter.. meeting all the other teams was a highlight. See you around! JP

  23. Mark Essel

    How about augmented camera showing score next to cabs as you sweep your mobile around. You’d risk getting run over to find a good cab :(, nevermind.

  24. fredwilson

    If it is fast enough (one of the issues with ar) then this is a killer feature. I assume you’d need to recognize the medallion number with the camera