Tag Archives: Disrupt

Final Day of TechCrunch Disrupt ’15

Today’s the final day of TechCrunch Disrupt, the grand finale. We’ve seen some interesting startups present on stage, even more interesting booths in Startup Alley, and today’s the day when we see the winner. The finalists were a diverse bunch:

  • An indoor farming operations platform (Agrilyst)
  • A POS/Inventory system specifically designed for the burgeoning cannabis market (Green Bits)
  • A Mint.com for small business (Leap Financial)
  • A nail decorating robot (Preemadonna)
  • A healthy subscription food model for kids’ lunches (Scrumpt)
  • A Slack-type communications solution for Healthcare (Stitch)

While each of these contenders have an interesting and thoughtful approach to product-market fit, only one will come away with the final cup and the $50,000 grand prize.

This year, it was Agrilyst, a cloud-based solution to manage indoor farming, with Green Bits as the runner up. Interestingly, both top finalists this year seem poised to take advantage of the growth in legalized cannabis consumption. Given the small niche, it’s hard to see Agrilyst as a truly disruptive company in the same league as Uber or Airbnb, but it does seem like a real innovation for the underserved farming industry. Greenhouses are complex, heavily data intensive operations, and owners have previously had to make do with disparate tools like Excel that were not well suited to the job.


image from TechCrunch

Still, first prize isn’t everything, as the $180 MM funded second placer from years past CloudFlare can attest when they went up on stage. At the end of the day, the real prize at Disrupt isn’t the prize itself, but the attention and credibility in the eyes of investors and the tech media.

Then there’s the other “startup” that launched here at Disrupt. While it’s not one of the contenders on stage, one of the most memorable moments here was seeing Snoop Dogg announce the launch of his new startup, a premium cannabis lifestyle content site dubbed Merry Jane.


Company tour of LinkedIn

This trip has been a nonstop whirlwind of networking dinners, company tours, and of course the hive of activity here at Disrupt. The passion and awareness for tech and innovation here is both eye-opening and deeply satisfying to see. Even during our last day here at the conference, we still managed to fit in a lunchtime trek to LinkedIn’s downtown office here with a friend to show us around. 

While getting around the city during this trip is a small detail, I think it’s been a telling example of the environment here. We’ve been completely spoiled by the cost and convenience of Lyft Line and UberPool, shared ride services that are a game changer for effortlessly getting around a new city at a low price. It seems like everyone takes it here, with enough demand for most rides you see them continuously pick up and drop off multiple passengers.

droneIt’s been incredible being completely immersed in the tech industry here, a tradition that I hope will hopefully continue into the years ahead.

By: Ying Chen

YingYing graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Marketing, a minor in Biology, and a strong mix of extracurricular experience in graphic design and digital media. He previously worked at JPMorgan Chase in Wilmington, DE working up from intern to a Leadership Development Program rotational analyst, to Marketing Manager. He has a strong interest in technology and product development. 

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Day 1: TechCrunch Disrupt ’15 San Francisco

By: Jun Wang

I took an UberPOOL with another woman who came to Disrupt to represent her company at the Startup Alley. I arrived at 8:28 a.m. to the event venue at the 22nd Street, Pier 70. The venue surprised me at first with its rustic exteriors, massive steel beams inside, and the uniqueness of its raw beauty. Rooted deep in history, set among the old shipyards of San Francisco, the buildings of Pier 70 evoke images of a bygone era and stir the imagination. No luxury conference halls and fancy interior designs, even the typical mild Bay weather was heated by the organic concentrations of thousands of attendees from all over the world.

The conference kicked off with five-minute opening remarks by TechCrunch, no lengthy speech, typical to other professional conferences. A serial of fireside chats, conversations and panel discussions involved investors such as Ron Conway and Topher Conway (SV Angel), Yuri Milner (DST Global), Beth Seidenberg (KPCB), Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures), Jeremy Liew (Lightspeed Venture Partners), Bill McGlashan (TPG Growth), Dana Settle (Greycroft Partners); successful startup entrepreneurs such as Parker Conrad (Zenefits), Drew Houston (Dropbox), Pavel Durov (Vkontakte), and Helen Greiner (Cyphy Works); and current tech leaders such as Dr. JoSnoop Dog at Disrupt launching his company MerryJanehn Kelly (IBM), Dr. Richard Marks (Sony), Paul Raphael (Felix and Paul Studios), and Claude Zellweger (HTC). Just when I thought think Snoop Dogg came as an entertainment star for the conference to add some fun and music, he sat down with Ted Chung on stage talking about Merry Jane, his newly launched pot-flavored lifestyle media platform. Snoop Dogg founded a tech startup? Yes, what else can you imagine will happen with this tech startup boom?!

My favorite speaker of the day was billionaire, Russian venture capitalist, Yuri Milner. Unlike some, Mr. Milner was not scared that killer robots are coming to destroy humanity in the years ahead. His view about the rise of artificial intelligence is better described as a beautiful friendship between humans and machines. “I think that what we see very clearly is that there is a convergence between the human brain and computers,” said Milner. “Google is a good example of that; when you have a million people feediCrowded Conference Scene at Disruptng the machine — all the content on Google is created by the human brain and then there are a bunch of servers that are analyzing this data and feeding it back into the human brain, so there is a very peaceful co-existence between us and Google. Our brains are slowly adjusting to Google being around.”

While trying not to adjust my brain too much to passive listening, I went around talking to various entrepreneurs coming from different corners of the world – Japan, Argentina, Taiwan, Brazil, Czech, Hungarian, Uruguay, and Egypt.

At 6:00 pm the conference ended with 12 newly launched companies competing on the Startup Battlefield. Companies ranged from improving Virtual Reality gaming background to Data Analytics for indoor farming to educating 5-year olds to create a robot through intelligent toys. Tomorrow includes speakers from Facebook, Fitbit, GoPro, Pandora, and Y-Combinator talking on stage, and an afternoon comHeadshot_JW3pany visit at Google and Facebook. Exciting, isn’t it!

Jun Wang is a second year MBA candidate at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Born and raised in China, Jun started her global citizenship by studying and working in Japan, Germany, and now the US.  Before coming to Smith, Jun was a Product Manager and Lead Auditor at a leading German technical inspection company and working with the United Nations in 11 different countries on renewables, energy efficiency, and waste management projects. Jun’s MBA focus is General Management and Entrepreneurship. Jun currently serves as the President of Professional Communications Club, VP of Smith Energy Association, Entrepreneurs-Club, and Smith Pride Alliance. She is also the Founder and President of the Smith MBA Toastmasters Club and the Campus Director of Hult Prize@ University of Maryland (in partnership with Clinton Global Initiative). Jun’s long-term goal is to launch a technology company across the globe to promote conscious consumerism and environmental sustainability.

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