David Smooke

@DavidSmooke

#TCDisrupt SF: The Ten Startups to Watch

The big themes of #TCDisrupt were Virtual Reality, Ronny Turiaf, and “how many startups can we jam pack into a 90 degree warehouse at pier 70?”

The conference opens to Startup Alley, offering the jostle for position of a prison hallway leading to the cafeteria underlined by the raw enthusiasm of seed funded ideas.

Wasn’t planning on attending #TCDisrupt this year… It all started with supporting my business partner. This weekend, I headed over to the TechCrunch Hackathon. Did whatever little I could & we had access to all of Crunchbase’s data. Ho-hum. They gave us each tickets for hard work and dedication to our craft.

I just got back from Italy last week, so I figured I’d selfishly start with the apps that I could have used.

Travel Apps

Esplorio — AggregatingTraveling Status Updates Into a Mapped Story

Oxford folks are so smiley. I never knew until today — but I’ll tell you what — their booth had some cheerful motherf*ckers. Speaking of, I mapped my trip to Italy in their app, to give you some flavor of what I once called local. This app does an effective job of aggregating photos from different social networks in a desktop view. Their mobile app is a bit behind the desktop offering, but they have the team to level up. Plus, they spoke of product cycles in weeks and not months and quarters, which is especially refreshing.

Oh, how what’s next reminded me of my failures alike (MapShot!).

Viewspot — Discover Public Vantage Points

Where are the most beautiful views in all the land? Here’s how Viewspot defines their offering:

They have a talented founding team made up of Innotas Senior Sales Consultant Ankit Gupta & Innotas Solution Consultant Naveed Bagheri, according to LinkedIn & Crunchbase. I will be keeping an eye on their growth and maybe even share my secret list of 1,000 best geo-tagged images ever taken.

Enough about me, my travels, the apps I vicariously live through and onto more important things, i.e. that whole Silicon Valley can change the world thing…

Social Good

sfciti.org— Tech Companies Adopting Public Schools

Ron Conway is the chairman of the board. It’s about tech giving back to the local community, but I focused my discussion around their work benefitting public schools; tech companies can “adopt” a local public school. Every adoption or sponsorship through sfciti is customized to what the school needs. Cash, mentorship, parks, you name it. They recently achieved 50+ official partnerships!

I’m going to drive leads their way, because why not?

Shout.gd — Klout for Social Good

Can an app measure the social good I type into the world? I don’t think I’m ready for my entire goodness to be summarized into a number between 0–100 based on the sentiment analysis of my social media updates… but I admire the initiative to highlight those who are doing good.

“You’re a 65, you get a free t-shirt,” she said and handed me a shirt that says “How good are you?” And here I am, thinking about the retirement age.

Virtual Reality

Organic Motion — The Starterkit for Virtual Reality

They had a staff member in a cage with an accompanying screen of his avatar dancing around. It reminded me Vince Vaughn being the museum exhibit called The American Business Man in “Unfinished Business” (which also issued free business stock photos in a fun little bit of marketing). For $995, Organic Motion sells a starter kit of the hardware, software and instruction to make your first virtual reality video on your own.

There was a bunch of other cool VR tech — like Samsung’s Adventure Time & VR River’s stock car racing experience — but I’m not in the mood to distort my reality any more than it already is, so I’ll cover VR’s up and comer’s on another day.

ART.

The Commissioned — Accomplished Artists Ready to Paint Your Dreams, Making You Feel Like a Rich Ass Renaissance Man

I was sitting in corner on a curb in the warehouse (pier 70 has curbs inside)— catching up on emails because you know I have a marketing firm to run and I wasn’t even supposed to be here today — and this guy takes my focus off the screen saying, “What does ArtMap do?” I told him about my business. And he spoke of his. As Mr. Pop Art once said:

“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

CEO Melvin Yuan said The Commissioned will have a 20% revenue share with the artists while galleries are traditionally in the 50% range. Seems fair. Will be tracking their progress on getting quality work for quality artists, and may just have to commission a painting of a marketer trying to intercept a soccer ball thrown by a panda to an orca whale, or whatever Viktoria Kutukova paints next.

ArtoMatix — Automating the Production Artist & Friends

They grow textures. The kill seams. They make patterns almost infinite. Production artistry for video games and Hollywood movies could have a new right hand man. Their video claims they’ve built “the first AI with imagination” and first robot of the video is a very close rendition to Ava from Ex Machina. The founder working the booth spelled it out:

“Say you want 100 zombies. Instead of hiring 100 actors. Hire three actors, send us the footage and we’ll turn them into 100 unique zombies.”

Because, “Why Not?”

MerryJane — Cannabis Lifestyle Media Destination

Obviously, Snoop Dogg would launch this at TechCrunch.

Meet My Dog — Tinder (Play)Dates for Dogs

Is your dog lonely for another dog in the pack? Are you sick of your dog and want to play fetch with other people’s dogs? I kid. Either way, Meet My Dog can help. I got the booth version of their founding story:

“Facebook has a complex algorithm to recognize profiles that aren’t humans. They deleted my dog’s profile. So I built Meet My Dog.”

WunderKind — Children’s Legos that Teach How to Code

There was a timidness on stage, and it wasn’t from a lack of innovation. It was just that the team hadn’t been there, and Kickstarter is just catching on to their building blocks.

They are based out of Vienna, and they plan to make the act of building a lego castle also create a computer program. How scary it is to be young!

4 Things I Don’t Like About #TCDisrupt

  1. Apps not properly building the Twitter login. It’s not hard. Never, ever make me type in login credentials to a major social network. I am already logged in on my phone, stop wasting my time. I know you’re hustling. But if you’re here to get users, don’t ruin the aha-on-boarding-moment by asking users to type login credentials of another account immediately when they get in the door.
  2. Not enough seats. I know TechCrunch wants to create that feeling of a sold out show. But there is a golden ratio between temperature and seats. In this heat wave, TechCrunch needs to better consider how to monitor the developers’ armpits; for inhaling out loud, the smell in the warehouse is communal air.
  3. Only sandwiches. I mean I didn’t pay for a ticket, but some people paid a lot for tickets and their hard earned dollars deserve some authentic San Francisco cuisine. Maybe food trucks, maybe Molinaris, maybe Ethiopian, just more than a simple sandwich with fluffy bread.
  4. Startup Alley’s Congestion — “It’s just too crowded,” IDGN reporter Blair Hanley Frank told me while sitting in our Lyft Line. A 2005 Landcuiser. “And there will be all new ones at the booths tomorrow.” I had no one idea they would have new startups pay more tomorrow to recycle out the ones of today (#startuplife).

4 Things I Like About #TCDisrupt

  1. Iced Coffee. Cold, refreshing, & caffeinated — perfect.
  2. The Water Fountains. That was some good motherf*ckin’ water. It was cold and bottle-less. The reduction in bottle usage is admirable. Pro conference tip, TechCrunch should require that all startup booths near the water station give away their branded water bottles.

OK, enough about cold, cold beverages….

3. The Overall Energy. Attendees, sponsors, hackers, speakers, camera men, writers — the excitement, absurdity, reality distortion and that next big idea are all here. Whether it’s Cole Fox zipping through overcrowded aisles on a giant scooter, John McAfee cameo-ing everywhere, TechCrunch staffers filming on a stage in the middle of the pier where none of the attendees can hear the speaker, or just the possibility meeting someone building something cool, #TCDisrupt’s got the energy.

4. The Opportunity to Keep the Conversation Going! Enjoy the day!

Until next time, sống ảo.
Medium → “ART + marketing”
Linkedin → in/ClarkKent
Twitter → @DavidSmooke

P.S. If you’re someone who always says they are killing it, don’t hit the recommend button below. If you’re someone who’s honest with their team about the state of their business, it’d be great to talk marketing.

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