Some lessons from the startups at TechCrunch Disrupt

September 14, 2011 | Leave a comment


Be clear. Know what you’re selling. Our backdrop set it out plainly: “Send video fast. Make video easy.” More than a few journalists said we had the best poster of the day.

Build value. If your company allows other companies to build value more efficiently, you’re onto a winner. Mostly this has meant creating advertising of one kind or another – display ads, branded video pages, and so on. (The best way to get rich in a gold rush is to sell shovels. Just saying.)

Be gorgeous. A slick user interface screams professionalism. If you don’t take care over your UI, you don’t care about your users. I’m noticing that more and more apps are moving away from the black, grey and white colorscheme that’s been popular for the last year or so, and there are more Metro-inspired UIs. The less-slick apps stood out, and not in a good way. Build for touch interfaces.

The social land grab is over. If you’re still trying to market a web-based consumer social app or site without a really new and compelling customer story, stop. Checkins have become a running joke; building your social graph is something you can do anywhere. You’re not differentiating yourself at all by doing these things. Even Facebook is emulating at this point.

Finding local things on a map-based interface is the new checking in. i.e., everyone’s doing it now, and the user experience doesn’t completely work. There are probably better interfaces – look at Foursquare, for example. But it’s worth considering whether it’s even a wise business decision, given the number of startups trying to, for example, highlight local businesses.

You can’t just build an iPhone app. Unless that app is so amazing that you forget there’s no Android or web version. The iOS-only ship has sailed. (Thankfully.)

Real technology sells. Some of the best startups here have differentiated by using actual computer science: Vocre is a Star Trek style universal translator, for example. And we consistently wowed with our highly optimized video compression with latakoo.

Someone is always selling coffee cups with your logo on it. At every single tech conference since my first ever, when I was eleven years old. This was no exception. Do something different.

Photo by TechCrunch, released under a Creative Commons license.