Friday, March 27, 2015

1871 is getting a digital makeover

1871 is getting a digital makeover

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Keval Baxi
Keval Baxi

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1871 is about to get a high-tech makeover.

Codal, a local website and app-development shop, is going to overhaul 1871's website. In one of life's curious ironies, 1871, which is home to several hundred tech startups, is, well, lacking in the technology department. So Codal offered to give it an upgrade.

The 120-person company, based in River North, has done work for startups and Fortune 500 companies alike. It's taking on 1871, which is a nonprofit, as a pro bono project over the next 18 months, says CEO Keval Baxi.

“1871, like a lot of startups, is sort of MVP (minimum viable product) when it comes to technology,” he said. “Our goal is for (1871) to be strong not only in terms of providing great space but also lead in digital technology innovation.”

Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, who knows a bit about technology from several startups and his most recent gig running Tribeca Flashpoint Academy, readily acknowledged the shortcomings. “The website was a shoemaker's kids situation.”

Mobile will be key. “A website is probably one generation back,” he said. “There's got to be a strong mobile connection. You need to be able to use a mobile app to sign up for things.”

In a statement, Tullman added that Codal will help 1871 "better organize our internal processes and communication with our members and visitors. Our members will have, in one place, everything they need to help them build successful, thriving businesses.”

When Baxi's team is done, 1871 will have an automated portal that will allow members to provide feedback on mentors, the entrepreneurs, techies and academics who regularly advise the startups. A web portal and mobile apps will allow members to pay their membership dues, schedule mentors, reserve meeting rooms, see a schedule of upcoming events and even order lunch.

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