TechCrunch Disrupt Redux #TCDisrupt


Coming off an amazing Disrupt San Francisco event, I have to say that I am feeling pretty good about things.  Sixty percent of my picks made it to the Final Six, which included the ultimate Winner and Runner Up.  While Layer and Dryft are bound for amazing things, there were other lurking in the corners of Start-up Alley whom I think will also drive some incredble success.  The entire Disrupt experience this year was pretty incredible.  An incredible line up of speakers combined with an amazing array of start ups.  It was an incredibly fast paced event that really made you strategize around how you spent your time attending.   Decisions on When and How often to cruise down Startup Alley each day,  figuring out which groups you would come back and do some follow up with, dig a little deeper, which you would pass on,  and then race back to the conference hall for the next panel, speaker, or special announcement.   With the exception of the subzero temperatures in some locations and the general chaos around lunch time, it was about as seamless as an event could be.

While alot of the attention focused the thirty or so finalists, there really was some great things going on in the Startup Alley as well.   I had a bunch of favorites with regards to either the technology and/or the business models present.  It was rare to come across something that I felt was “done and ready to go” but there were some real opportunities to grow and differentiate over time.   In some cases I shared my thoughts, in others I took down their contact information to reach out and touch them later or at least in one case to offer them some additional ideas.  These were the unsung heroes and stories of Disrupt who no doubt learned a very great deal about how to move things forward.   As an engineer by trade I was specifically energized by the general “amping up” effect that the engineers had in their interactions with one another.   The exchange of ideas and free flow of feedback was pretty incredible.   Its easy to see why the Valley has this persistent culture of innovation.  Its something that I wished could be duplicated elsewhere.   It was an inspriring event.  For me personally, for me as a leader, and hatching some of my own crazy ideas.

One of the ways I measure the impact of walking Start-Up alley is the 72 hour test.  The 72 hour test is essentially which firms or technology still occupies a portion of my mindshare 72 hours later.  This is not necesasarily an endorsement of the firm or its approach but rather that some aspect of what these firms presented has continued to rattle around in my brain. 

The firms that have successfully managed a foothold in my brain are:








These firms really got my mind spinning in some interesting directions and I wish them well!




Layer Wins TechCrunch Disrupt SF, #TCDisrupt


In a well deserved win (and I would say come from behind win!) at Tech Crunch Disrupt, Layer demonstrated that Infrastructure is indeed still sexy.   Layer’s product is an underlying code base that enables platforms to add messaging and communications simply, easily and in a standardized way.  

As the battlefield participants discussed their chances before the awards in an interview with TechCrunch’s Colleen Taylor, she asked Ron Palmeri and Tomas Stolfa if they were concerned because their product wasn’t as sexy or as visible as some of the other products in the Final Six.  They weren’t and they had every right not to be.

Infrastructure IS SEXY.  Its been my mantra for years!

My comment at the time was that they make everyone else sexy. They are like the Spanx of Communications Messaging Capabilities.

I got a chance to spend some time with them across the event and you could tell this team has heart, determination, and grit.  

Congratulations to Ron and Tomas and their teams. 

Well Deserved!


The Results are in at #TCDisrupt Battlefield–How did my predictions fair?

Well the folks over at Tech Crunch have come out with their official list of the final six startups of the Battlefield.  These firms will move on today for the final battlefield in front of an all star panel of judges.

They are:

  • COTA
  • Dryft
  • Fates Forever
  • Layer
  • Regalli

How did my predictions fair?  Well two of the finalists (Dryft and Soil IQ) were on my official list and two of my alternates made the list as well (Layer and Fates Forever).   If held to the letter of my predictions I am sitting at a 33% accuracy rating.  If I include my honorable mentions list, I am at 60%.  Not to bad as I am not certain how the rating process over at Tech Crunch actually works.

In general I rank on three axes.  The first is the ability to monetize the idea or business, the second is an assessment of how interesting and disruptive technology actually is, and third is the timeline for success.

Based on my thinking some of these finalists scored high in one factor, but low in another which precluded them from my list.  For Example:

At a high level the COTA technology is amazing!  With a nod to the genius of Tesla, Wireless charging of devices and batteries from a central home or building based platform would be highly lucrative and there is huge consumer demand.   The Tech is cool, the overall monetization looks to bephoto (4) good.  The reason this one did not make my final list is the extremely long cycles that are likely going to be involved getting this device through all the various regulatory bodies, safety evaluations, etc.   This will be big but the timeline for success on this is quite a long time away.  Having spent a good portion of my professional career dealing with the intersection of Electricity, regulatory requirements, and modularization of equipment, this is coming from a place of some experience.

Regalli, on the other hand, has an amazing business model that is likely to monetize very quickly. However in my mind there was nothing really exciting or disruptive about the technology.  Do I think they are going to make a killing? Absolutely.  There are some likely business development challenges ahead for them, and perhaps some Latin American regulatory issues, but nothing insurmountable.  

As you can see any kind of judging is highly subjective and my rankings are not to say these firms don’t have a great chance of great success.  Its just the standards I hold myself in evaluating these companies are the things I would use in evaluating the use of my own money for investment.

As for the others I will be actively rooting from the sidelines.   If history is any indicator, however, its mostly theater from this point (except for the team that gets the money!) because in reality, ALL of these firms have just won in a very big way.


#TCDisrupt- My TechCrunch Battlefield Predictions for Disrupt


The only way I could describe the pace of the first two days of Disrupt San Francisco would be to say that ‘break neck speeds’ would not do it justice.  The Tech Crunch teams really outdid themselves this year for sure. The agenda’s were action packed, in some cases motivational, in others caused you to really reflect. Reflect on technology.  Reflect on trends. Reflect on a good grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. Reflect on the market and industry we all play a part in.   The third day will likely end in a huge crescendo as I am quite certain the line up of talent alone will blow the roof off the place.   Perhaps I will write a bit about some of those talks here in the coming days and weeks, but I really had to try and put out my predictions for the results of two days of data and passion filled Startup pitches before the official list was published.  

For those of you not in the know, the Battlefield is essentially two full afternoons where roughly 30 startups have a limited amount of time to pitch their business.  Each presentation has a panel of industry elite as judges who get to ask a few questions.   In the end, only 6 of those on the Battlefield will make it to Day 3 for the final pitch, in front of a group of even more elite industry elites… for the top prize.

My predictions here are not to say that these are my favorite startups, as there were far more firms in start-up alley that I visited over the first two days that I feel have real potential or peaked my interest in some significant way.   In some cases there were Battlefield participants that have very strong business models and capabilities that will make them very successful regardless of their win or not.  This list is the top six forced stack rank of both days based on my own thoughts and reflections.   

I tweeted my thoughts on each contender live throughout the event.  If you care to farm through my Twitter account you are welcome to do so. Though in fair warning I am generally pretty forward with my opinions and questions. 

First let me put out my list of honorable mentions.  These are firms that have compelling stories, products, and/or technology that I personally feel have great value, but I do not think will pass through the filters of what I perceive to be the criteria that will be used.  To be honest I have no idea what that criteria is, lets just call it a gut feeling.  Regardless these firms have earned a substantial place in my thought domain.

The five honorable mentions in my list:

  • Layer – Creating software ubiquity of telephony tech for apps
  • Voxel – Interesting “VNC” like advertising platform for apps – Try before you buy, but virtualized in the cloud.
  • Jumpcloud – An interesting Cloud Security as a Service Model
  • Ansa – A more thoughtful implementation of SnapChat giving user control
  • Fates Forever – An interesting multiplayer Tablet game, but I found the gameplay interface and mechanics more compelling

So without further ado here are my six in no particular order.

  • Dryft – Reinventing the keyboard for tablets (and I beleive more)
  • Monsieur – Robotic / Automated Mixology Tech and some interesting related software
  • Braket – Classroom Workflow Technology -Easing the transition from traditional tools to tablets
  • SoilIQ – Social Sensors / Gardening and farming in the 22nd century
  • TidePool – Lumosity-like games, but much more – taking into affect Psychological information as well
  • TangiblePlay – Board Games meet Video Games, blending the real world with virtual worlds

Out of this list I know who my front runner is as well.  But I am not telling.  Yet.

Ok I put mine out there…who are your picks?


Headed to #TCDisrupt this week, Looks like an amazing line up


This week I am headed to the Tech Crunch Disrupt Conference in San Francisco.   It’s going to be hard trying to split time digging into the Startups in Startup Alley and a fantastic array of speakers this year.  My Twitter feed will likely play host to my thoughts throughout each day and I will likely post my thoughts here on Loosebolts after the close of the event as well.  If you would like to connect or reach out while I am at the event you can always reach me at  @mjmanos on Twitter or shoot me a quick email.