Techies share words of wisdom at Long Island City meetup

Wiley Cerilli advises the members of the Queens Tech Meetup to choose between being an alligator and being a bear. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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The geek shall inherit the earth.

Fresh on the heels of the launch of the “We Are Made in NY” marketing campaign for the city’s growing technology industry, a couple of entrepreneurs met with the Queens Tech Meetup last week and shared their Silicon Alley aphorisms for paring down a product to the minimum set of features necessary to make it viable.

“The winner between an alligator and a bear will be determined by the terrain,” said Wiley Cerilli, the founder and CEO of a company that allows small businesses to manage their digital storefronts on websites such as Foursquare and YellowPages.

Cerilli explained to the 100 or so attendees enjoying the view from atop Long Island City’s Hunter’s Point Plaza that when he was building SinglePlatform in 2010, he decided to target bars and, once he had established a strong presence in that market, then worked to reach similar companies such as restaurants.

“The idea was pick a terrain and be world-class at that one product or that one feature,” he said. “Instead of rolling out 10 features pick — you know — one or three and be really, really good at those three things. [That] allowed us to figure out what was working or wasn’t working very quickly.”

Likewise, Peter Pelberg said he decided to target a very specific community for his social-running application.

Yog enables users to invite people in their networks to schedule virtual runs that track their relative progress against each other.

“One of my favorite expressions is, ‘Build a redwood, not a bannister.’ When we first started thinking about the app, we threw out every kind of feature possible. What is the most fundamental thing we’re trying to test, which is ‘Do people want to run with other people?’” he said. “And then we kind of whittled it down to this very fine banister. The app is so basic right now, but that’s kind of the evolution of it.”

This was the sixth meetup for the Queens tech group since it was founded by the members of the Coalition for Queens last year.

The western Queens community is banking on forging a connection with the Roosevelt Island tech campus when it opens in 2017 and the borough’s chamber of commerce is hoping to get in on the action, too.

The chamber is sponsoring a competition to develop an app that will be the equivalent of a digital “Fuggedabou­tit” for Queens.

“The goal is to help brand and market Queens,” said Eric Abrams, the chamber’s digital media and membership associate. “As you guys know, Brooklyn is a brand and you’ll know it everywhere around the world, but Queens doesn’t have that identity and it’s something we desperately need and we hope this app will be one of the many steps that will help brand the borough.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 7:22 pm, February 28, 2013
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