Posts Tagged ‘ Disrupt ’

Why I regret going to TechCrunch Disrupt

Several months ago I decided to bring my startup from Ottawa, Canada and exhibit in Startup Ally at TechCrunch Disrupt. What better place than Disrupt to absorb insight, meet visionaries and explore the highs and lows of startup culture, funding and innovation? I was going to consider entering the battlefield for Disrupt NY 2012 if I felt it was going to help propel my company forward. This was before Arringtongate and the drama over journalistic integrity, CrunchFund, conflict of interest, infighting and the rest of the crap that ultimately overshadowed Disrupt San Francisco 2011.

I regret the decision to spend my precious start-up cash exhibiting at Disrupt. It was a waste of time, money and being away from my family. It was a side show. A carnival.

My advice to other entrepreneurs? Save your cash, Disrupt is dead.

Here are the facts: Michael Arrington is not the victim. Arriana Huffington is not the vilain. TechCrunch is a blog. It’s a very influential site with a lot of opinionated and influential bloggers who think they know where technology is going. They aim to be the voice of technology startups. It is also a blog that is tightly associated with several angels, investors and venture firms. Some investors work(ed) for TechCrunch. There are conflicts of interest, be them disclosed or not. None of this matters. It’s all noise. Throughout the drama, there was very little discussion about the disruptive start-ups TechCrunch is there to cover. Most of the actual coverage felt like an afterthought. There couldn’t be any meaningful discussion. It was completely overshadowed by the self indulgence and central focus of the event: the dark cloud of Arringtongate. Entrepreneurs like me who paid to participate asked themselves and each other this question:

“Why did I spend money to be here?”

The silver lining? I spent time getting to know some truly disruptive start-ups. I wrote another, more positive blog about that experience. I met some great founders and validated my vision. (albeit, against a heavily B2C, social media & gaming biased crowd.)

I went into TechCrunch Disrupt with eyes wide open…

…I walked away shaking my head.

Don’t get me wrong, Disrupt is a great platform and I am certain one of the competing brands will readily fill the void. I don’t know how tight Arrington’s non-compete is, but if I were running one of the many similar start-up launch events, I’d hire Arrington in a heart beat. I bet you get Paul Carr to moderate too!

Did you go to Disrupt? What did you think? Would you recommend to another start-up to exhibit or attend?

TechCrunch Disrupt – Insights and Advice

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011(http://disrupt.techcrunch.com) punctuated Michael Arrington’s career heading up TechCrunch. The final Disrupt for Arrington was held in San Francisco attracting over 2,500 leading technology innovators and investors and over 150 new startups. Despite the controversy and media maelstrom over shadowing the event, there was something else going on. Start-up entrepreneurs were unveiling new technologies and businesses.

Openera SmartCloud

Richard & Peter

Openera’s Founder & CEO, Peter Lalonde was there, showcasing SmartCloud in Disrupt’s Startup Alley, a startup launch platform, where over 200 companies exhibited their product or service.

Here are just a few of his perspectives and thoughts on Disrupt, the Startup Alley experience, and advice he’d give to other startups thinking of attending the next Disrupt conference:

What was the highlight for you at Disrupt?

For me it was getting real and honest feedback on SmartCloud. The opportunity to have other founders, investors, press and potential partners get excited about the promise of SmartCloud was outstanding. I was really impressed by a few startups that rose above the noise of so many similar themed ones.

What type of feedback did you get from Investors/attendees?

It was mostly good feedback. A lot of people said things like

“I’ve been waiting for something like this!” “oh my God, you’ve solved my biggest frustration.” or some variation of “wow, this is actually really useful! You’ve solved a real problem.”

It wasn’t all good feedback though. Some people just didn’t see the value. They don’t mind keeping all their content in their inbox. There were also concerns around security, which we expected, but our answer didn’t always satisfy people in hyper sensitive businesses. We’ll write a blog post about our view and approach to security.

Of all the other startups you saw in Startup Alley, were there any that you got excited about, and why? 

Yes! Definitely. Bitcasa was the standout, most disruptive company there. The fact that they didn’t win offended me! LOL. Their CEO, Tony Gauda, is dynamic, brilliant and quick witted. Their approach of offering infinite local/cloud storage for $10/month is groundbreaking on a technical level, pricing level and user experience level. They are exactly in-line with the SmartCloud philosophy of not changing user behaviour.

The other stand-out startup that also adopts the SmartCloud philosophy is Everpix. They have an elegant solution for solving the fragmented photo library problem. Like many people, I have photos scattered all over the web; MobileMe, Flickr, Facebook, Picassa and across several local drives and email!  Everpix will consolidate and even auto-curate your photos (hide bad pics) and organize them into ‘moments’ allowing you to easily collect from, and share photo moments with friends.

GoInstant is a fellow Canadian Start-up that has, what seems to me, the easiest shared browsing / screen sharing solution possible. No plug-ins, no logins, no hassle, immediate group browsing. Ideal for groups that want to test web-based products (like SmartCloud) – it even works on mobile browsers.

Special mentions to Sonar (a social networking app that brings your LinkedIn contacts (and others) into a location aware context) and CodeGuard (time machine + version control for your website and a cool logo!) as well as sponsors, UrtheCast (launching HD cameras into space to provide (and make available) essentially a new hi-res image of the planet every month.Tesla because Tesla is awesome and Elon Musk is a visionary and inspiring. SugarSync, because they might make a good partner, and EventBrite, because they disrupted local & social event ticketing and has made life easier for many people.

Tell us a little bit about the experience of being in Startup Alley. 

You give the pitch so often, you sometimes forget that what you are saying may have quite an impact on someone. If I could have done anything differently, I would have spent more time reaching out to people ahead of time. There were very few members of the press interacting with the Startups in Startup ally. They were mostly distracted by Arringtongate! I would have thought that, at a minimum, TechCruch would have sent someone to talk to each startup.

What advice/recommendations would you give to other Startups who are considering attending the next Disrupt?

You might want to read my other post on Disrupt for more insight. If you are a B2B start-up expect a good percentage of the attendees to not care about what you are doing. This may change, but social, mobile and games seem to be the startups that get all the attention. If you decide to be a part of startup ally you may want to push to be exhibiting on day 1. Our experience was that Day 1 was far more busy for startup ally. Don’t wear a costume! Even if it does get you attention, press, leads is it worth it? Most importantly, talk to other startups. Find ones you like and promote the hell out of them. The good ones are often not the ones in the battlefield. Get to know their pitch, value proposition, send people you talk to their way too to check them out. Finally, it’s all about the follow-up. What are you going to do after Disrupt?

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