Cybersecurity, Hardware and Design

On Thursday, October 4, NYDesigns attended the launch event announcing the CyberNYC initiative spearheaded by the New York Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to grow New York City’s cybersecurity workforce through research, development and training opportunities. At the center of this $30 million dollar  initiative are programs and training centers that will position NYC as global leader in cybersecurity.


Cybersecurity Innovation Center Partners:

  • SOSA will launch provide collaboration space, coworking, programs and events through the Global Cyber Center in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
  • Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) will launch, an innovation hub focused on developing enterprise-ready cyber companies, connecting them with investors and partners to create the next-generation of international market leaders here in New York City.


Inventors to Founders:

  • Columbia University will create programming around cyber security startup sourcing and commercializing IP research for university students and faculty. The university will also launch applied learning programs under the initiative.


Applied Learning Initiative:

The following four universities and IQ4, an online learning platform teaching various workforce development classes, will implement diverse workshops, classes and majors to train the cybersecurity workforce of today and tomorrow.

  • CUNY
  • NYU
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell Tech
  • IQ4


Cyber Bootcamp:

LaGuardia Community College and Full Stack Academy will bridge the access gap into Cyber Security by launching startup bootcamps to train New Yorkers from diverse backgrounds the skills needed to succeed in the sector. We’re extremely excited for the initiative as NYDesigns is a program of LaGuardia Community College, and we hope to learn from all partners how the intersection of hardware, software, security, and workforce development shapes the future of our startup business incubator.


We couldn’t help but offer our own thoughts for the emerging center and how hardware startups will design the future products that incorporate cybersecurity.


Wearable Devices

If you think innovative wearable devices have had their time in the sun and their dead, well you’re wrong. Wearables devices provide consumers, doctors and researchers with vital health data that can help transform the way deliver care to patients of all ages and backgrounds; wearable device data has the power to transform preventive care and provide the insight to keep people healthier for longer periods of time. However, data at the end of the day is data, and it needs to be protected. How consumers successfully integrate their data into medical records, and how do hospital systems protect that data?


Connected Devices and Internet-of-Everything (IoE)

We recently read a CEPro article highlighting statistics from the International Data Corporation report and were intrigued that there are 97.7 million Home Monitoring and Security Device shipments expected in 2018 and 244.9 shipments by 2022. There are 99.9 million Smart Speakers expected to ship in 2018 and approx. 230.5 by 2022. Voice assistants like the Amazon echo  and Google Home, and smart speakers like the Sonos One and Sonos Beam have made a wave in the market. Controlling items with voice or motion is not new, it has just been reimagined, reengineered. We can now control everything with smart sockets and plugins, thermostats, energy consumption, lighting, smart sensors to detect leaks, smart door locks, etc. The connected and smart home, commercial store, school, street, alleys, etc, has arrived, and is here to stay. How do we protect our voice, motions, triggers, and smart device preferences? How do we prevent hackers from controlling our homes or listeninging into our homes or place of business? Especially for the smart homes, how do we protect our home identities?


Kiosk Marketplaces

We have been extremely excited by the success of our alumnus companies such as KeyMe and Vengo, two companies that have reengineered how we use kiosks to serve our real-time and on-demand needs, and added a twist to the decades old vending industry. There is more research & development to be explored into kiosk businesses, like Hoplite Power who has been developing affordable vending technology for portable smartphone chargers via a rent and return system. With any kiosk business, how businesses incorporate cyber security to protect customer data, preferences, identities, and privacy.


General Summary

There is a strong connection to how cyber security and hardware intersect. The biggest question is how do we prevent hackers and tamperers from taking over our devices, home, wearables, and machines? Like any sector, the cyber and security sectors will have a lot of room to evolve and help solve critical problems that impact how we access, share and maintain our privacy, and identities.  We at NYDesigns is extremely interested in learning from our industry peers, partners, tech workers, experts, and strategists. Drop us an email or comment if you have additional insight to offer at


Photo credit: NYCEDC

New FabLab Member Onye Ahanotu

Material scientist long island city queens NYDesigns

Onye Ahanotu has spent the past 13 years living around the U.S.A. (Los Angeles, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Boston and now New York City), exploring and learning from all that is around him. His artistic origins are rooted in drawing from childhood. Over the decades, Onye grew into painting before entering the world of photography. He is classically trained in the Sciences & Engineering, receiving a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Material Science & Engineering from University of California Irvine while performing mechanistic organic chemistry research. After-which, Onye earned a M.S.E. in Material Science & Engineering from University of Michigan, with a focus on product development, emerging technologies, and fabrication techniques. He considers himself something of an analogous learner who’s knowledge and experience bridges many fields.

Desiree Frieson: Tell us about your background. 

Onye Ahanotu: I am a generally curious person who has had the opportunity to learn about the creative process and problem solving in many fields. I have a fair amount of experience in scientific research, modern fabrication methods and working to incorporate novel materials technologies into design. From understanding molecular interactions to now visual art, I work at the interface of fields, to develop enabling processes and technology platforms. Currently, my photography focuses on investigating the notion of ‘Essence’ as well as how advances in materials technologies impact Us & our environment. Within the FabLab at NYDesigns, I’m working on my latest series which seeks to incorporate fabrication equipment into the art making process, representing novel contemporary fabrication methods.

Desiree: What do you do? 

Onye: I am a visual artist and a materials scientist, working to combine the two fields.

Desiree: What did you study? 

Onye: At the University of California, Irvine I studied Chemical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering, with more of a focus on chemical synthesis and process development. Followed by Material Science & Engineering from University of Michigan, where I explored electronic materials, technology development, and architecture.

Desiree: Where are you from?

Onye: I’m from Rohnert Park, CA

Desiree: Tell us how you got started in your field.

Onye: I have been drawing and painting, since I was young and the same goes for science and engineering. Professionally, I got my start working to de-risk and further develop materials technologies.

Desiree: Can you describe your techniques to us or something about it that’s innovative or different. 

Onye: I can’t quite share my techniques just yet, but hopefully soon! My interest is in having the method of fabrication to be reflective of the subject. The innovative part of my techniques stem from my experience in material science research; I like to think about hierarchies of scale and the fabrication process.

Desiree: What is your favorite fabrication tool at NYDesigns?

Onye: The tools that I use the most, would have to be the laser cutters. However, my favorite tool, that I would like to use more, is the CNC Router.

Desiree: Tell us how people can find your work. 

Onye: If you are interested in learning more about my work, my website ( is the best place; brief project descriptions and online store. You can also follow me on Instagram (@onyeahanotu) where I occasionally post updates.

Desiree: Tell us what you’re reading, listening to (podcast) or watching right now as it relates to design and art.

Onye: My consumption clusters around philosophy, science/engineering and art (sometimes directly related, often times not). Much of my readings are from the Nature & Science family journals, or Art history books. Working at the interface of disciplines, I’ve seen how there are so many interesting ideas that can cross fields, as well as time, to inspire something new. I also follow content agglomerators like “My Modern Met”, fall down plenty of Wikipedia rabbit holes, and watch woodworking tutorials on YouTube.

We Live for Hard Tech & Design & We’re Hiring 🔧🔩🔨

Founded in 2006, NYDesigns is dedicated to the success of design and hardware tech startups in NYC. Companies in our incubator get three years of private studio space and access to a network of mentors and advisers. Makers can prototype their design ideas in our safe, secure, 5,000-sq-ft fabrication lab. We produce events and programs for a thriving community of creators and innovators. NYDesigns is a program of LaGuardia Community College.

Western Queens Tech Zone Strategic Plan

Executive Director, NYDesigns

On June 28th, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz unveiled the first Western Queens Tech Zone Strategic Plan entitled Live, Work, Create: A Roadmap for Equitable Growth of the Western Queens Tech Ecosystem. Long Island City tech leaders Tristan Bel, Executive Director of NYDesigns, and Gail Mellow, President of Laguardia Community College, were announced as committee members.

Introducing The UniProject

Sam & Leslie Davol of Street Lab, commonly known on the streets as The Uni Project, joined the NYDesigns incubator program in May 2018. Check out our newly relaunched blog to learn how these two design dynamites are changing the way children and parents interact with reading, science, math, art, and design.

Meet Desiree Frieson

Desiree Frieson, NYDesigns

Desiree joined NYDesigns in June 2018 as Assistant Director overseeing programming and marketing. If you are interested in joining our volunteer mentor and advisor network, or lead a lunch & learn discussion. please introduce yourself to her at

New strategists and mentors

In Q1 & Q2 of 2018, Tamecca Seril and Michael Lightman joined NYDesigns as our first-ever Strategist in Residences, a strategic coaching program made possible through a New York State Innovation Hot Spot Grant. Tamecca and Mike coach our nine in-house resident companies on their business model, sales, marketing, fundraising, and financial management strategies. If you want to discuss your design or hardware focused startup, RSVP below for an upcoming office hour with both Tamecca and Mike.

Sophie Lefebvre joined the NYDesigns volunteer mentor and advisor network in June 2018. She is a New York based strategist, product development and product marketing leader. Sophie leads the full lifecycle experience, from ideation, strategy and creative vision, to detailed execution and launches, of emerging and global B2C and B2B companies and brands. 

Dedicated Desk

Rent a Dedicated Desk for $350/mo.

Studio Space

If you’re looking to upgrade your space for a team of 3+ people, inquire below about a private studio and our incubation program.


Laser Cutting 101
Tuesday, July 10
6:00 – 9:00 PM

NYDesigns is hosting this beginner workshop to get acquainted with how to use a laser cutter. Got some great ideas for jewelry, art, or the next big breakthrough in hardware? Learn the basics to get your project off the ground.

Woodworking Basics
Tuesday, July 24
6:00 – 9:00 PM

Walkway from this workshop with your own custom designed candle holder after you learn woodworking techniques such as: sanding, gluing, fabrication, and clamping.

We’re Hiring

Tell all your program buddies & dudettes NYDesigns is hiring a Program Assistant. Here are some highlights of the position:

Program Support:

  • Support the team in marketing, recruitment, and other general administrative activities
  • Assist in processing invoices, payment requests, and contracts by compiling appropriate documents

Space and Event Management:

  • Coordinate space use for NYDesigns residents and partners, as well as some of LaGuardia’s other programs and departments
  • Coordinate logistics for on-site and off-site events to ensure smooth functioning of activities, including coordinating schedules, identifying vendors, and placing orders for supplies and services
  • Coordinate facilities maintenance tasks, interfacing with building and grounds as needed.

Data and Record Management:

  • Lead management of client growth data, including gathering, storage, and reporting
  • Manage client and partner records, including license agreements, insurance documentation, fabrication lab waivers, memoranda of understanding, vendor contracts, etc.


  • Minimum of associate’s degree required, bachelor’s degree preferred
  • Minimum of 2 years of experience in area related to office/administrative support or program coordination
  • Strong ability to think ahead, take initiative, and work both independently and as a team member

Meet New Residents Street Lab aka the Uni Project

Street Lab is a nonprofit that creates unique programs for public space across New York City—pop-up reading rooms, open-air drawing studios, and more. Our passion is bringing people together and transforming public space, and we focus on solutions that communities can’t easily implement themselves, sharing our solutions across the city. We choose pop-up locations based on requests from community groups, and we work in partnership with NYC Parks and NYC Dept. of Transportation, prioritizing underserved areas. We also send kits around the world so that other cities can do the same. In New York City, we are known primarily as the Uni Project

Desiree Frieson: Tell us how The Uni Project got started. When was your aha moment? (Tell us about the process of starting up.)

Sam Davol: In 2005, we moved our family to downtown Boston temporarily (it ended up being for six years), and we wanted to contribute to our new neighborhood, which was full of empty spaces after a major urban reconstruction project called the “Big Dig.” We started doing pop-up experiments, to draw people downtown and activate space. We saw a vacant lot across the street, and we created an outdoor movie festival called Films at the Gate in Chinatown, inviting people to bring take-out from local restaurants. We did other projects, like dance rehearsals in a empty storefront, and eventually created a nonprofit called Street Lab to do this kind of work.

Before returning to NYC, we did one final project in Boston called the Chinatown Storefront Library which was a community-run library in a vacant storefront, with 5000+ donated books and events that ran into the evening. ( Passersby could see library patrons on the inside of the storefront glass, displaying values that were important to us and other residents of Chinatown. The Storefront Library was our most popular project in Boston, but we noticed something interesting in our data: during good weather, our patron numbers dropped. It turned out that people were going to the park instead of our space. With that lesson in mind, on moving back to New York in 2011, we launched the Uni Project, which was a pop-up reading room designed to go where people already gather, including parks, plazas—anywhere, really. Last year, we completed our 500th deployment in NYC, and we now work city-wide, reaching all five boroughs with different programs for public space: READ, DRAW, BUILD, EXPLORE, and more. ( In 2018, we’re expanding the scope of our programs further, and we are re-introducing our original nonprofit name Street Lab to be an envelope for programs that range beyond learning and education.

Desiree: Who is on your team?

Sam: Leslie serves as Executive Director, focusing on program management and development, partnerships, administration, fundraising. Sam focuses on logistics, design, fabrication, and communications. Leah Kaplan is our full-time Program and Operations Manager. And we have a roster of 10 part-time staff who work in the field, including several LCC students. We also have 35 active volunteers and other pro bono contributors (architects, designers, educators, etc.)

Desiree: Who are your primary customers?

Sam: For our programming work, we are focused on creating a great experience for the New Yorkers who walk up and engage with our programs (all of which are free). If it doesn’t work for them, nothing else really matters. We also seek to please and address the needs of the 100+ community partners and city agencies that host us in each location. We deploy only where we are invited, so without them, we’re not going anywhere. Finally, there are funders and sponsors who make our work possible, and they get our attention as well.

The other part of our work involves fabricating programming “kits” for other organizations and cities so they can copy our model. Most of our customers have been libraries, and we’ve also built for park conservancies, museums, and the US State Department. Here’s a list: (

Desiree: Tell us about your fundraising strategy as a non-profit. What opportunities are on the horizon for The Uni Project?

Sam: We’ve worked hard to diversify our revenue sources, so that we are not solely dependent on charitable donations. We bring in a significant amount of earned revenue from program fees and sales of kits to other cities around the world. One area where we feel there is room to grow is corporate sponsorship.

Desiree: Tell us about your biggest accomplishment to date and why are you so proud of it.

Sam: One of our goals is to be a 100% climate neutral organization by the end of this year. Our partnership with NYC Department of Transportation now includes a truck sharing arrangement, so that most of our equipment rides on existing NYC DOT truck routes. This partnership lets us reach hundreds of new locations with programming while cutting our organization’s trucking by about 75%. We think there will be an increasing demand for services in NYC that are provided sustainably and use cooperation to reduce energy use. We want to show how that can be done in our work.

Desiree: How can people get involved with the Uni Project?

Sam: Stop by our studio or reach out in any other way! Volunteering with us on the street is a great way to explore the city and meet fellow New Yorkers. Offering pro bono design or professional help is another great way to make a contribution that can impact scores of neighborhoods across the city. We’d also love help finding funders and sponsors.


“How Do I Fund My Business?” Meetup: A Recap

Thanks so much to everyone who joined us for the second ITAC + NYDesigns Urban Manufacturing Meetup last week!

On October 29th, a diverse group of founders and entrepreneurs gathered in our lounge to hear from five experts about a variety of different ways to finance their businesses. We learned how to pursue capital everywhere from hardware VCs to alternative lenders to industrial partnerships, heard useful tips for maximizing cash flow, and chowed down on some delicious empanadas.

Here’s a quick rundown of the evening:

Sumeet Shah from Brand Foundry Ventures taught us how to win over VCs. Some of his tips: be cocky, not arrogant; have a great team by your side; be prepared to talk about your buildout and scale-up strategies; and blow ’em away with a tight pitch you could recite in your sleep. He also boosted our confidence when he made it clear that you don’t necessarily need to be innovative to be successful. You just need to know your “X factor”: How do you stand out? Scroll down for a clip from Sumeet’s presentation.

John Sinnott from Cornell Center for Materials Research (who won the title for Speaker with the Longest Commute) walked us through all the resources the CCMR has to offer to startups, including a cash match program, an industrial collaboration program, and training. He also gave us a peek into the “national gem” that is the CCMR Shared Facilities lab, which is open to anyone who wants to test and prototype new materials in a high-tech environment and offers a $500 to first-time users (transmission electron microscope, anyone?).

Jun Shimada, the CEO and Founder of ThinkEco, told us the story of how ThinkEco went from building rudimentary models out of plastic bins from Bed Bath & Beyond to becoming the award-winning IoT success story it is today. A challenge that ThinkEco faced — and that many manufacturing-based startups face — is figuring out how to bridge the cash gap between procuring components from suppliers and getting paid by your customers. The key, he said, was to establish great relationships with everyone on his supply chain and then negotiate with them for more flexible financial terms. And how do you do that? Get your suppliers excited about what you’re doing! Scroll down for a clip from Jun’s presentation.

Bryan Doxford from New York Business Development Corporation gave it to us straight about how to approach lenders – and when you need to fire them. His advice? Your lender should be your partner and your advocate. If your lender is not being clear with you, find another one. Also: know your financials, know the difference between what you want and what your business really needs, and of course, don’t forget about the Bank of Mom and Dad.

John Abrashkin from Honeybee Robotics took us on a historical journey of Honeybee’s road to success — a road composed of many different types of financing over many years, including friends and family, government grants (SBIR), and strategic partnerships and commercial research. He left us with a critical piece of advice: when you’re in the concept generation phase, take a step back and think about the cost you’re building in to the final project. “Concept generation bakes in 60% of lifetime product costs — before any prototypes are built!”

Thanks to our partners at ITAC for a great event and delicious food! Keep an eye on our page for future events.


A few photos from the evening:


And videos:

Sumeet Shah (Brand Foundry) on preparing to approach a VC

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Jun Shimada (ThinkEco) on prototypes, pilots, and cash flow

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NYDesigns Fall 2014 Newsletter

Fall 2014 has been a busy time for NYDesigns and our residents. Below you will find some highlights of the events and other accomplishments of our staff and residents this fall. For more updates follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


NYDesigns Untitled-1bw1



This fall NYDesigns launched #makingQUEENS — a fall 2014 initiative by NYDesigns featuring a series of events and presentations that explore all the types of creative making that take place in the borough of Queens. These events are part of NYDesigns’ ongoing effort to understand who is making (in) Queens — highlighting diversity in the design and maker communities in our borough.


Making Cities Symposium
On September 20th NYDesigns welcomed the participants of Making Cities I3: Innovation, Incubation, Inclusion to our space. The event is a collaborative effort of The New School; the School of Architecture, Design, and Urban Planning (FADU) and the School of Social Sciences (FSC) of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA); and the School of Architecture of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.
On Twitter: Image 1 || Image 2 || Image 3

Maker Faire

NYDesigns is proud to have participated, along with thousands of makers, in this year’s World Maker Faire NY on September 20th and 21st. Our space at Maker Faire included interactive activities such as puzzles with the neighborhoods and community boards of Queens.

New York’s Next Top Makers 

On September 24th NYDesigns welcomed NYCEDC and the 2014 New York’s Next Top Makers fellows class to the Get Made Summit.
On Twitter: Image 1 || Image 2

Open House NY

On October 11th NYDesigns participated in this year’s Open House New York. On a rainy day we hosted over 50 people who met our residents, including: Vengo!, MTWTF, HUXHUX, and Bhold.
On Twitter: Image 1





  • Automata will be at American Field on Nov 22 & 23, 10am – 6pm, at Industry City in Sunset Park.
  • Automata will also be featured at Pop Up Flea from December 12-14.



Czeck + Webley

  • Harvest season is still happening on many of Czeck + Webley’s terraces. This one on West 86th Street has abundant figs, flowering rosemary and pyracantha berries.
  • It was Czeck + Webley Landscape’s 2-year birthday on October 3rd. They had a little get-together with staff, contractors and the many people who helped them out along the way. (image)
  • C+W installed a waterfront garden in Connecticut using all salt-tolerant perennials just north of New Haven. They aren’t ready to release any photos of the space until it fills in next spring, but here is a view of the water from the site with a slice of Frank Pepe’s white clam pizza.


Valentine Goods


NYDesigns Open House New York (OHNY) 2014

Thanks so much to all those that attended our Open House New York (OHNY) 2014 site visits on October 11. Also, we would like to thank our residents Bhold, HUXHUX, MTWTF, and Vengo for opening their doors to our visitors. It was so much fun, and keep in mind that you can schedule a site visit at any moment by emailing us at

OHNY 2014 Featured Resident: Vengo

NYDesigns is happy to be participating in this year’s Open House New York with tours on Saturday October 11th at noon and 2PM.



Vengo is a small, high-tech vending machine. Vengo creates retail in new locations, couples it with interactive media and extracts consumer insights. Vengo has 50 machines deployed driving 25,000 unique engagements per month.

What can people expect to see in your studio during OHNY?  
Lots of tinkering and prototyping!

How do you describe NYDesigns?  
An amazing, spacious community that affords us the ability to bring all of our team together in one space in comfort.

See Vengo in action!

OHNY 2014 Featured Resident: MTWTF

NYDesigns is happy to be participating in this year’s Open House New York with tours on Saturday October 11th at noon and 2PM.



MTWTF is a design consultancy that creates communication platforms for cultural, commercial, educational, and civic clients. Through research and analysis, we identify cultural and business contexts in which to design strategic communication platforms that get results. These platforms include signage systems, environmental graphics, exhibitions, identities, publications, websites, and posters. We believe that good design has the power to help individuals, organizations, and businesses clarify what they do and manifest their ideas to make change happen.

What can people expect to see in your studio during OHNY?
Samples of our recent work in signage systems, environmental graphics, exhibitions, identities, publications, websites, and posters.

How do you describe NYDesigns?  
An invaluable home and support system for young businesses and business owners.

See MTWTF in action!

OHNY 2014 Featured Resident: HUXHUX

NYDesigns is happy to be participating in this year’s Open House New York with tours on Saturday October 11th at noon and 2PM.



HUXHUX Design is dedicated to exceptional architecture, interior design, & furniture.

What can people expect to see in your studio during OHNY?
A working design studio where you’ll see the trappings and traces of customized designs… from 3d printed tiny things to custom textiles for pillows to custom wallpaper to giant interior design contract work here in NYC.

How do you describe NYDesigns?  
Prime studios for emerging design firms, along with a mindful community that is focused on design innovation.