I was lucky enough to be invited to spend half a day at TechCrunch Disrupt 2011, wandering around the Startup Alley, listening to the Battlefield and selling Xero (all of these startups should be using Xero right?).
TechCrunch Disrupt is a three-day conference and startup competition targeting very early ventures as well as a gathering of industry leaders and innovators, providing deep insights into what’s happening in the industry right now and what’s coming up in the future. The main event at TechCrunch Disrupt is the Disrupt Battlefield, which is essentially a launch competition for early-stage startups – they have to be live for fewer than 3 months, and less than 2 years old. Most of the companies at the Battlefield were actually going live at Disrupt. It’s huge for them – Disrupt competitors get a massive amount of PR just by being on stage. If you’re building a startup and want to launch in the US then TechCrunch Disrupt is the place to do it.
I was there as part of the launch of Advise.me. Advise.me is a startup incubator and accelerator built around an advisory network of some of the smartest people in the industry. As well as providing (or helping to find) funding, Advise.me will connect the startup with people in their network that are genuinely interested in working with that company. It’s a great idea and an important service. At Xero we’ve always believed that connecting small business owners with advisors is the key to driving productivity, which is why our Single Ledger concept is so powerful. Xero is perfect for an advisory network like Advise.me – because all the data is in the cloud, advisors (CPAs, CFOs, VCs, board members) can get a real-time view of the business as it grows from early startup through to (hopefully) big, successful, sustainable business.
And it’s that last point that makes being at Disrupt so interesting. There were so many amazing little startups at Disrupt this year, however there seemed to be an over-adundance of startups that had built either iPhone apps or Facebook apps. While some of these businesses had built amazing software (the talent in the room was extremely intimidating) very few of them felt like real, sustainable businesses. While technology advances over the last 20 years have lowered the barrier to entry for talented individuals to create amazing products, I’m just not sure the quality of businesses built around these products has improved at the same rate.
Today is the final judging of the Battlefield: you can check out the Battlefield companies that are in the final round here. One of these could very well be the next big thing…