Field Notes: Touring Techcrunch Disrupt 2012

Techcrunch Disrupt 2012
(Above pic: Techcrunch Disrupt featured 329 global startups over 3 days in San Francisco)

I just visited dozens and dozens of startup booths (so you don’t have to) at the massive Techcrunch Disrupt held in San Francisco, I also attended in 2011 and published my notes.  I’ve been attending Techcrunch events since they were held in Mike Arrington’s backyard with beers, bbq, and a bouncing black lab over 5 years ago, they’ve come a very long way and Mark Zuckerberg said it was larger than his own Facebook conference.

There was an all-star cast of tech-arati including Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, Marc Benioff, Jack Dorsey, Tim Draper, Ben Horowitz, David Sachs, Kevin Rose, Aaron Levie, Cory Booker, and even Jessica Alba.  In addition to the main stage pronouncements there was 204 companies in the startup alley as well as vertical specific days, and 125 in the international rows.  I attended the third day, which had many international startups, as well as hardware innovators. Here are some of the interesting companies segmented by market:

Early Funding Birth B2B, SMB, and Enterprise Startups
New opportunities to serve businesses, both small business, enterprise and local merchants emerged, here’s a few worth noting:

  • Taptara: The real standout enterprise player I saw was Taptera, which stems from former Genetech mobile team who spun off this enterprise class provider of mobile apps that stem around field productivity, collab, and collateral features. They have 6 major features including a directory system called Colleagues, Collateral built on Salesforce for curated content, Crescendo built on Box.net which offers presentation features for tablets and beyond, an Events feature that Disrupt was built on, and Concierge a Social profile CRM tool for sales teams.  Business model is $10 a month per seat, with 20 employees, and only 15 mos old after raising just over $3.25m (pic)
  • Alicanto: This novel approach for SMB retail: Alicanto is a virtual CMO for local marketing.  Small mom and pops that are struggling to battle with big box and chain QSRs will need this contextually relevant artificial intelligence to provide non-MBA business owners to effectively market with ads, direct marketing, and even suggest partnerships with local merchants. (pic)
  • Moovia: If Linkedin and Basecamp had sex.  This application first provides employees with collaboration tools, but then encourages teams to score colleagues with their team based skills.  As a result klout like points are distributed based on skillsets, and data can be used in a variety of other ways in the future. (pic)
  • Kerio Workspace caters to SMBs offering a collaboration toolset built on their existing program.  This company has been around since 1997, has 200 employees and stems from a legacy of voip products and beyond.  This collaboration tool offers a heavy duty user interface for heavier collaboration with social features.
  • The Fan Machine: Social marketing platform The Fan Machine caters to marketers to reach French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish.  They’ve 25 employees and have received $1m in funding and strive to compete with Buddy Media, Wildfire, and Extole.
  • Freshdesk, which is 1 year old, offers social support and call center SaaS technology for SMB.  With 80 employees and $6m funding, they tout 2k customers and offer 3 modules including: 1) Email., call and ticket systems. 2) P2P support tools, 3) Social CRM and news feed management of customers complaining in public. Biz model is $9 a mos per agent with an average of 10 agents.  Competes with Zendesk.
  • Superlead, a Brazillian startup offers lead generation tools for SMBs that include landing pages, lead gen pages, call to action features, and analytics.  With only 7 employees they’ve raised 350k Euros.

Blue Chip Tech Companies offer Infrastructure to Fledgling Startups.  Rackspace, HP, Best Buy, Ford, Microsoft all had booth presences to reach out to startups to offer infrastructure, business accelerators, resources, and partnerships.  Here’s a few of the booth offerings:

  • SAP was featuring big data quant analytics platform Hana, and showcased white label retail apps.  They’re seeking to partner with startups and get them on their platform at early stage. (pic)
  • Best Buy was here on hardware day offering a business accelerator program called New Blue, designed to help innovators get resources, distribution, and opportunity under existing BestBuy product labels called Insignia and Rocketfuel. (pic)
  • HP, Rackspace were offering cloud and hosting to the myriad of fast growing startups.
  • Ford has launched a Silicon Valley lab and offers both BugLabs (SW) OpenXC (HW) for developers to get involved.  (pic)

Consumer Startups Revolved Around Themes –With a Few Interesting Technologies
Across the hundreds of startups featured, I walked by every booth, here’s a few consumer style apps, websites, and hardware companies that caught my eye:

  • Shopperception, a South American retail startup, uses $100 Xbox Kinect bars to analyze real world shoppers to measure engagement pre point of sale and had several analytics dashboards. (pic
  • Game Genome Project offers a “Pandora for Games” to recommend which games (and soon apps) which users should find and use  They’re business model is a CPA model
  • MakerBot, 3D printer, will be available for $2k and creates plastic figures, tools, toys, and devices, and will move to other forms of more pliable materials in the future.
  • Interaxon, a Brain wave scanner, is a headband which measures brand activity, and will have uses for gaming, workplace productivity and eventually grab multiple forms of brain activity to track our Body APIs. (pic)
  • Government sponsored Enterprise Ireland was present and has an evergreen fund of $350m for startups and larger org.  Code 2040 offers a summer internship for US students of Latino and African American heritage who are interested in technology.
  • BoostedBoards, an Electric skateboard takes you uphill and home for $1200. Made $100k on kickstarter (pic)
  • Double Robotics, an iPad Robot is emerging, and for $2k you can be in two places at once with this remote controlled robot. (pic)
  • Zoop, a Square competitor from Brazil has three input capabilities for local merchants includes Pin based security entry. NFC, SmartCard, Magnetic strip canning.  They take a  2.75% fee charged to local merchant. (pic)
  • Totally.me, a pre-launch social aggregator claims better than Flipboard with Pinterest style feed display. Content is de-duped and has other aggregation and features. (pic)
  • Chronos offers a body data tracking application that tracks your daily time usage by your phone.  This can be used to optomize how you spend time during the day, and competes with Latitude and Lift but claims more automated features.  Biz model is fremium with lead gen CPA and ad models.
  • Lit, a highly coveted free statndinga motorcycle stays upright with gyros. (no not Greek food) (pic)
  • SuperManket: This one made me shake my head in amusement as well as practical application.  SuperManket (yes “Man”) is a new dating tool where men advertise themselves to women (who control the experience).  See screenshot of list of options, apparently “aging millionaire” was a top way men wanted to self-describe themselves.  Business model is fremium and male members pay for positioning (think SEO) and ability to see who’s peeping their profile. (pic)

Most of these startups will not stand the test of time, and from year to year, I didn’t see as many trends changing other than the lack of SoLoMo companies from Disrupt 2011. One of my mottos is ABR: Always be Researching, and I hope these findings helped others who couldn’t attend the event.