Some lessons from the startups at TechCrunch Disrupt

September 14, 2011 | Leave a comment

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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.

Day two at TechCrunch Disrupt

With all of the inside baseball politics surrounding TechCrunch lately, what I hadn’t had time to consider was that Disrupt would turn out to be the most high energy, intensively productive conference I’ve attended for a really long time. It certainly helps that I’m here representing a product that wows people in thirty seconds flat – but a lot has to do with the format and organization of the event. TechCrunch waived our fees because they felt we had a disruptive service, so thank you to them for having us. It’s been a lot of fun meeting other startups and seeing demos both on the conference floor and in the Startup Battlefield.

I’ll be back again tomorrow. If you’d like to meet up, or want to see latakoo in action (either at Disrupt or elsewhere), send me a message, or call me directly on (312) 488 9373.

latakoo at TechCrunch Disrupt

September 12, 2011 | 2 comments

I’m at TechCrunch Disrupt this week with the latakoo team. And not only that – we’ve just closed a $1.3 million seed funding round!

“The feedback from customers is that latakoo is a transformational tool for anyone wanting to transport and manage video,” said latakoo President Jade Kurian. “We just helped TV news crews on the East Coast get their reports back to their stations when satellite technology and other methods failed during the hurricane. We’re very excited about showing off our technology at Techcrunch.”

How are people using latakoo? Here’s a taste:

If you’re at Disrupt, come by the latakoo stand at Startup Alley and say hi!