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Startup Cities First Panel

Majority of humans live in urban areas, and billions more will in the coming decades. The only way to prepare for this massive shift is to create new cities and innovate existing ones.

We are hosting an event to champion ideas of treating cities just like startups. A panel of fantastic speakers will discuss the topic from each of their unique perspectives. The speakers will include entrepreneurs, economists, and urbanists.

After the panel, we invite our audience to a networking session to chat about entrepreneurship, urbanism, and decentralization. We hope to demystify the concepts of starting new types of societies.

Below are the speakers' bios and selected quotes from the panel.

Alex Klokus is the Founder & CEO of Futurism, a media startup highlighting the breakthrough technologies and discoveries that will maximize human potential. He's one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in Media. He’s also contributed to the efforts of Singularity University and co-founded

  • “What does smart city mean to us? Does it mean we actually know when the subway is coming? Whereas if you go to place like Dubai for example, which is a city built on a desert over the past 50 years, they have very few decision makers and very little bottlenecks to go through which allows them to do whatever they want. Dubai is one of the most interesting cities in the world. They commissioned their firefighters with jetpacks. They are putting majority of the city on blockchain.”

  • “Cities attract great talent and they are hotbeds for startups.”

Brandon Fuller is Deputy Director and Research Scholar at the Marron Institute. Fuller is also part of the founding team at the Urbanization Project, a Marron-affiliated research center at NYU's Stern School of Business. The work of the Urbanization Project is focused on rapid urbanization in low and middle income countries. Fuller chairs the Board of Directors for Refugee Cities, a non-profit dedicated to expanding the options of displaced people by promoting special-status settlements in which they can engage in meaningful, dignifying, and rewarding work. He is an adjunct scholar in the Niskanen Center's immigration department. Fuller is also an advisor to Utopia, an urban planning and design firm focused exclusively on informal settlements. Prior to joining NYU, Fuller was Director of Charter Cities, a non-profit founded by World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer that focused on the potential for new cities to advance reform in rapidly urbanizing countries. Before that, Fuller was part of Aplia, an education technology start-up founded in the San Francisco Bay Area. Aplia provides interactive online problem sets and experiments designed to increase student effort and engagement in brick-and-mortar college courses. Fuller started his career as an adjunct professor of economics at his alma mater, the University of Montana in Missoula.

  • “There are things that rapidly growing cities can do to set themselves up for success…part of it is coming to terms with the fact that they’re going to grow and they’re going to grow by a lot.”

  • “There’s where you get into what’s interesting about this startup dynamic with startups and cities. New cities present an opportunity, institutionally, to try new things that we can’t do in existing cities or at least do very easily. That’s everything from having congestion pricing to using only natural gas to having different rules on economic activity. You can have different institutions around labor markets.”

  • “That’s the idea behind narrow but strong governments. Not trying to do too much and not suffocating the power of individual initiative or spontaneous order.”

Amanda Gutterman runs marketing at Consensus Systems ("ConsenSys"), a venture production studio building decentralized applications on the blockchain. Forbes Magazine listed her as one of 30 Under 30 in Media, and Inc. Magazine listed her as one of 30 Under 30 Movers and Shakers in the Content Industry. Previously she cofounded and served as editorial director of Slant, a digital news platform allowing creators to instantly monetize their work and optimize it for distribution on social media. Before Slant, Amanda was Special Projects Editor at The Huffington Post and worked at The New Yorker. She grew up in Washington, D.C. and is a graduate of Columbia University with a BA, Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. In addition to her bylined publications, her work has been cited by Business Insider, Digiday, Tech Crunch, Columbia Journalism Review, The New York Times, Capital New York, POLITICO, and Foreign Affairs, among others.

  • “All kinds of different blockchain enabled services are changing what it means to be in a city, and allowing people to self-select into self-governable communities.”

  • “We have a product called uPort, that allows any person anywhere in the world to have a private-public cryptographic key. It’s basically a number that is your identity and you can access that if you have access to the internet…So you can build up a rich picture of your identity to secure a loan from someone halfway around the world that you never met because that person is able to see your history on the blockchain and is able to trust you as a result. So this means even without access to centrally provided government services, you can become an entrepreneur.”

Sanford Ikeda (Ph.D. New York University) is a professor of economics at Purchase College, State University of New York. He is author of Dynamics of the Mixed Economy and has published in Forbes and National Review Online as well as in The Southern Economic Journal, Review of Austrian Economics, and American Journal of Economics & Sociology. His research focuses on the nature and significance of cities and social networks for entrepreneurship and economic development.

  • “Cities are an institution that breed innovation.”

  • “Cities are spaces for failure…You have to able to experiment and have trial and error which is why I have a problem with characterizing cities as efficient or inefficient. Of course they’re inefficient but that’s their virtue. The virtue of cities is that innovation occurs there.”

Oscar Boyson is an NYC-based director and producer. He recently created the internet doc short "The Future of Cities", which explores themes in past, present, and future urbanization. Featuring interviews with thought leaders such as Edward Glaeser, Carlo Ratti, and Janette Sadik-Khan, the video introduces subjects and perspectives Boyson will continue to examine in a continuing series of urban stories. His credits as producer include Josh & Benny Safdie's Heaven Knows What and the upcoming Good Time, Noah Baumbach's Mistress America and Frances Ha, and the television series Neistat Brothers for HBO. His directing work includes the doc series Iconic for Apple TV's M2M, a series about the Art Market for & UBS, and numerous other web pieces, video essays, short films, and commercials.

  • “In Detroit, there was a guy 23 years old and he was developing an app that would help residents and the city use water more efficiently, which I love. It’s not a silver bullet solution, it’s a perspective solution where we look at water in a different way and really value it…The city has now employed him to develop his app…He’s invested in the city as it is in him.”

  • “As entrepreneurs, cities might cause a lot of problems, but we solve the problems.”

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