Nearly 700 investors, programmers and tech enthusiasts attended the first Long Island Tech Day Tuesday, a one-day expo that featured more than 45 tech startups from across Long Island.
Held at LaunchPad Huntington, a co-working space for small businesses, the afternoon event gave budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet with angel investors who could finance their ideas, as well as to promote their digital tools and inventions.
Andrew S. Hazen, chief executive and co-founder of LaunchPad -- which has two such co-working spaces and is planning a third -- said the turnout at the downtown Main Street location exceeded his expectations.
"I literally had this idea only 10 weeks ago," he said. "We were hoping to get maybe a couple hundred people and 20 exhibitors, but we had to stop exhibitors at 47. There was physically no more room for more booths."
Exhibitors went for a variety of reasons, but meeting other members of Long Island's tech community topped the list for many.
Tara Jaworski, co-creator of social messaging app GhostPost, said she came to demonstrate that her product had a niche: "What we wanted to do was prove our market fit."
GhostPost allows users to anonymously send photos and messages to groups of friends, with the effect being a guessing game of who sent what. Jaworski, of Babylon, began developing the iPhone application several months ago with her brother, Edward McLaughlin.
"My brother and I have literally bootstrapped the entire way," she said. "Clearly, we don't want to give up equity if we don't need to, but we do need funding to grow."
Others, like Chris Lopinto, president and co-founder of Patchogue-based Expert Travel Services LLC, exhibited to show his 10-year-old company's support for the Island's evolving tech ecosystem.
Expert Travel's signature product, ExpertFlyer.com, accesses in-depth airline information traditionally available only to travel agents and provides it to frequent fliers and traveling business people.
"We're here to support Long Island's young entrepreneurial ecosystem," said Lopinto. Such a community "is something my friends and I have been waiting for, for years."
The event's turnout bodes well for a community of entrepreneurs who have been pushing for a technology focus for the Island, said Mark Lesko, executive director of Accelerate Long Island, a group that promotes high-tech company growth on Long Island.
"This is the first time I've seen this type of crowd," he said. "It's a major step in the development of Huntington as a tech center." While no date has been set for the next Tech Day, Hazen said he hopes to host the event at least twice a year.