Imagine going to a restaurant and ordering a steak, and the waiter asks, “Do you want that Disrupted?” Odd as it might sound, you’d almost expect to hear this considering how often some of the most well-known entrepreneurs, investors and pundits use the term “disrupt” or “disruption” to describe lots and LOTS of products and services.
My team at Microsoft is all about startups…identifying a select number of founders and teams that we think are truly “high potential” and working closely with them to have a high-value relationship with Microsoft as they build solid products and services and a killer business that will rise above all of the noise and crush it in the marketplace.
Given that, we go to a lot of tech conferences—they’re great places to meet interesting people doing interesting things. While I’ve had the opportunity to attend lots of tech conferences in many places around the world, I particularly like the spirit of TechCrunch Disrupt (Disrupt). Why? One word…”Battlefield”.
IMO, Battlefield gets it right. The term “disrupt” is used as a forcing function to put these startups on a path to become a lasting, sustainable business…disruptively entering a market, addressing a real need for real customers. I love the premise of the Battlefield, forcing those pitching to have crisp answers to the questions “what [market] are you disrupting?” and “how will you successfully disrupt the market”.
While at Disrupt NYC I made some observations with a "disruption" lens…thought I would share my thoughts.
I’d say that overall the quality of the Battlefield contestants was very good. There were, as always, a few I just didn't get but most of the presenting teams were pretty impressive. Some additional color below;
- Who won
- Who impressed me
- Jury’s still out…
In addition to the Battlefield, the Startup Alley gave folks who weren’t selected for the Battlefield to pitch. I came across a few companies in the Startup Alley who stood out for various reasons;
Smart insights from smart people
Lots of smart people on stage over the course of 3 days, but a handful of statements stuck out for me in terms of market trends to continue to watch.
Of the categories highlighted at Disrupt, I’ll be watching a few closely. I’ve been collaborating with a few interesting companies in those spaces;
What They Do and Why I’m Watching
What They Do and Why I’m Watching
Kinobi’s platform enables people to create, share and experience interactive learning using the Microsoft Kinect; they’re creating a next generation skills marketplace that enables rich, real-time feedback. There are lots of learning and skill-based companies out there but these guys are using the movement tracking and NUI experience of the Kinect to enable super interesting new scenarios to power the “skills democratization” trend.
Lemur has built a pretty clever solution that is a hybrid Inventory Management and CRM system for retail sales associates to use on the retail floor. I like to think of it as “handheld arbitrage” for optimizing the yield of inventory relative to demand and carrying costs. Brilliant stuff. The founder Will Fuentes is a former store and district manager for Best Buy (BBY) so he has intimate, first-hand knowledge of the problem. Haven’t met a Retailer yet who isn’t very excited by this one.
Follr is a service for individuals to organize their identities, content and contacts from across multiple networks into one place with a memorable web address. I think their interesting because managing online identity is the “wild wild west” and consolidation is long overdue. About.me has been the only significant play here and there’s definitely room disruption here.
Looking forward to Disrupt SF,other events and meeting more disruptors!