The Times Center in New York City was packed on Friday with some of the brightest minds in both business and technology for the first-ever east coast edition of BizTechDay, a one-day conference for entrepreneurs now in its third year.
The event, which was keynoted by Seth Godin, featured an impressive list of speakers peppered with brief demos of Web-based products aimed at startups and small businesses.
Kicking the morning off, investor and philanthropist Esther Dyson was interviewed by BizTechDay founder Edith Yeung, in a conversation that spanned everything from Dyson's early days as a fact-checker at Forbes magazine to her recent investments in health-related technology firms.
Dyson was followed by Help A Reporter Out (HARO) founder Peter Shankman, who delivered a rather hilarious talk sharing some of his experiences using email to reach people. HARO, a service that connects journalists with sources via email, boasts over 100,000 subscribers and an astronomically high open rate of of about 65%, according to Shankman.
"Bad writing is destroying America," joked Shankman, who encouraged businesses using email for marketing to take writing courses and above all, send out messages relevent to the needs and interests of their subscribers.
For would-be entrepreneurs in need of cash, founder Dana Mauriello discussed Profounder, a crowdfunding site that takes the traditional "friends and family" approach to raising money and brings it to a larger group of potential investors via the Web.
Meetup.com founder Scott Heiferman, fresh off a plane from Chicago, where he solidified a partnership with the Oprah Winfrey show, discussed the ins and outs of forging a community, and the importance of doing so offline.
Attendees were perhaps most excited to hear best-selling author Seth Godin take the stage and discuss some of the themes woven throughout his latest book, Linchpin, free copies of which were available at the door.
Fox News anchor Clayton Morris talked about how (and how not) to pitch members of the media for coverage. Clayon, who co-hosts the morning show Fox and Friends told the audience he hasn't checked his voicemail in months and encourages concise, targeted emails to grab the attention of reporters and producers.
After an inspiring talk from author and TED speaker Simon Sinek the afternoon closed out with an entrepreneur pitch and matching session.
Between speeches, representatives from a handful of companies had the opportunity to demo their products, many of which looked very useful for small and medium-sized businesses. Among the most interesting and useful were a social marketing app called Wildfire, email marketing platform Infusionsoft, recurring billing solution Chargify and an app designed to eliminate having to wait in line called Textaurant, among others.
Keep an eye on ReadWriteBiz, as we'll be reviewing several of the products demoed at BizTechDay in more detail in the coming days.
For those who missed BizTechDay New York, it's not too late to register for BizTechDay San Francisco, which will be held on Saturday, October 23.