It was a rather unexciting day at Disrupt. Most pitches bored me to tears. After awhile, every startup sounded like they were the next Quora. “Oh, so you’re a Q&A/crowdsourced knowledge base? But, I prefer Quora! What makes you any different?”
Probably the most exciting company I encountered was a guy that I met while waiting in line for food. The conversation sort of went like this:
(Him)So, do you know why our line is so much longer than the ones over there?
Yeah, you’re right! Huh, how about that.
[long awkward pause]
Well, I was just asking you since you were wearing the volunteer badge and might have some answers.
[more awkward pausing]
[introductions are made] So, uhhh what do you do?
Well, my company is called retriever and our product is a GPS tracker for your pets.
Cool! So, like there’s some sort of collar containing a GPS and I can monitor any of my pets at any moment?
Yeah, we also have a mobile app. [pulls out iPhone and shows me fancy GPS tracking pet action]
Awesome! So, like, do you have any pets yourself?
Well, not really. Ok, maybe just a cat in Texas.
[laughs awkwardly] Whoa! Outer-state pet tracking!
Unfortunately, I don’t own any cats or dogs.
Random thoughts, highlights
- Ashton Kutcher took the stage with Michael Arrington and chatted about Two and a Half Men and his interest in investing in tech companies. His character in the upcoming revamped show is a billionaire who recently sold off his Internet company to none other than Microsoft. This drew some chuckles from the crowd. Throughout the season, Kutcher explains that his character is an investor. Showbiz world suddenly parallels the real world, as Arrington pointed out. I wonder who came up with his character.
- Startup Alley startups – Why am I seeing some of the same startups in Startup Alley? I thought a completely fresh batch is rotated each day? I am disappoint.
- Voting – Attendees can vote for their favorite startups at Startup Valley, for a chance to become the audience winner, and also the opportunity to take the stage at Battlefield. Yesterday’s winner was Questli, which I blogged about yesterday. I think startups should actively try to encourage or at least mention to people who come up to their booth to vote for them. I visited about ten startups and only one, Cardflick, asked me to vote for them. I rewarded their persistence and gave them my vote. Best of all, they voted for me using their iPad. What? Unethical? Nice guys finish last.
- Best Prop Award – Fee Fighters, the guys who help you find the best credit card processors for your business. When I walked up to their booth, I bumped my foot on what appeared to be one of those Halloween arms/legs props. “What the hell? What’s that for?” I asked Sheel Mohnot, the guy who greeted me. “Well, you don’t want to be paying an arm and a leg for a credit card processor, do you?”
Update: They won the audience choice award! Source: Techcrunch
Press people are assholes
For the second day in a row, some douchebag decided to interrupt my conversation with a startup. This time around, some asshole from TUAW decided to initiate an interview with my favorite startup so far at Disrupt, Bitcasa. Screw you dude.
How to pitch your startup to attendees: Tips from an attendee
Eye contact: Just with any person you are trying to talk to, eye contact is crucial for keeping me interested in what your startup does. If your eyes start to dart around looking at people who pass by, I’ve completely lost my interest in what you do. Since you don’t seem interested in talking about what your company does, why should I care?
Brush your teeth: The conference is a loud place. People are excited to share their ideas and pitch their products. As a result, I struggle to hear and stand almost face-to-face with you just so I can hear you clearly. But, damn! Your breath reaks! Sounds petty, but the only thing running through my mind now is how the hell I could end the conversation as quickly as possible and grab some fresh air.
Keep it short, stupid: I have terrible attention, and thus my affinity for 140-characters or less. If it takes longer than 10-seconds for my to figure out what you do and your value proposition, you’ve lost me. What’s worse is when startups start rambling on and on without giving the opportunity to respond, I start to feel uncomfortable. I prefer pitches that follow a 21-questions format like so:
Q: So, what do you guys do?
A: We build software that let customers leave real-time feedback to restaurants.(totally made that up on the fly btw. I wont pull a Winkevoss on you if you steal that idea)
Q: Awesome! So, what’s the workflow like then?
A: Well, business owners sign up for an account, we ship them these lovely gizmos which they can set up at their venues. Once that’s all up and running, any customer who stops by can use our app and leave feedback to the restaurant while they are there.
Q: So, like this is like Yelp, but with real-time feedback. Oh wait, isn’t that what Twitter is for?
A: [Some short witty response]
I hope you get my point. Any long, drawn-out response, spells death trap for me. Does it really take that long to answer my question? Is it rude if I interrupt while he/she is talking, because otherwise, I might stand here forever.
Anyhow, Day 2 was generally disappointing. No company in particular jumped out out me and was worth mentioning, bar the conversation I had with the pet location tracker, which I probably won’t be using anytime soon. I’m praying some startups will read through this painful dialogue and consider my advice. I may be just a mere mortal and pale in comparison to the likes of Kevin Rose or Ron Conway, but you’ll be surprised how far you can go from winning fans from people like me.
Alright guys. Let’s hear it. What are your thoughts on day 2 of Disrupt? Let me know in the comments section below!
Check out Day 3’s coverage here