NYC’s Hottest Startups on Biggest Launching Lessons

In ten –to-20 years down the road, Mark Golin thinks everyone will know how to code – or build Websites. The Time Inc. editorial director said it’s the way of the future, and even his 80-year-old mother is on board, expressing interest in learning more about computers and Web development.

“It’s definitely possible, and it’s not too far off,” he said.

Perhaps that’s why Golin and Time Inc. chose to name Codecademy, an interactive site that teaches users how to code alongside their friends, as one of its “10 NYC Startups to Watch.” The chosen companies were honored Wednesday at the Dream Hotel in Manhattan as a part of Internet Week.

Golin said the selection process began three months ago, when the media conglomerate put out calls to all of its print and digital publications – ranging from Entertainment Weekly to Money magazine—for suggestions. Golin said the criteria for the nominations were made up of three categories: 1) having room to grow, 2) innovative and 3) an unmet need for their service.

A list of 100 potential candidates came in, and from there, Golin said, five judges duked it out to select the top ten.

“We wanted to focus on new startups that were under the radar,” he said. caught up with several of these budding companies for some Monday morning quarterbacking, asking them about their biggest mistakes and what they’ve learned in launching their own businesses. Here’s some of their advice.


What: allows brands and advertising agencies to create, execute and analyze advertising campaigns across different social media platforms.

Who: Nikhil Sethi, 23, and Garrett Ollom, 22, co-founders

Lesson learned: “Not moving to New York fast enough,” Sethi said. “The advertising game is 100% relationship-based, and New York City has a massive competitive advantage that we didn’t realize fast enough.”

Startup: Fab.

What: A social shopping Website that launched 10 months ago and has gained four million users in less than one year.

Who: Scott Ballantyne, 45, Chief Marketing Officer

Lesson Learned: “Do one thing really well,” Ballantyne said. “We celebrate our challenges as much as our successes.”

Startup: Codecademy

What: An interactive site that teaches users how to code alongside their friends. Launched in August 2011

Who: Zach Simms, 22, Co-founder

Lesson learned: “Not spending enough time hiring,” Simms, who now employs eight people, said. “It’s a constant tug between hiring and developing your product.”

Startup: TruthArtBeauty

What: A platform that allows users to create personalized skincare blends from natural ingredients. The company launched in fall 2011.

Who: Caron Proschan, 31, and Emily Graham, 34, Co-founders

Lesson learned: “We waited until the launch to do the public relations [legwork],” Proschan said. “We should have done that six months in advance, so we had the press following our launch.”

Startup: Stamped

What: A social platform that lets users to put their own “stamp of approval” on things they like best ranging from music to restaurants and more. Launched in May 2011.

Who: Robby Stein, 26, CEO and Co-founder

Lesson learned: “We made so many mistakes as an early startup,” Stein said. “Our biggest was launching early and often. There are benefits to waiting for your full feature set. It was almost too early, we should have developed [the product] further.”

Startup: The Divide Platform by Enterproid

What: The platform allows IT to manage the work material on a worker’s device so they can maintain their privacy but use their tablets and smartphones for in and out of the office. Launched in January 2010.

Who: Andrew Toy, 33, CEO

Lesson learned: “We gave ourselves a lot of time to build our product,” Toy said. “Our mistake was that we could have started selling a lot sooner. We learned that big corporations don’t mind working with startups.”

Startup: Sidetour

What: A community “marketplace” where users can discover, book and host experiences and activities. Launched in summer 2011.

Who: Vipin Goyal, 36, Founder

Lesson learned: “We spent months in ideation before actually building something,” he said. “That was our biggest mistake—we spent too much time on idea generation instead of building and launching.”

Time Inc.’s other honorees included, Fancy Hands and  loosecubes.