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Techcrunch Disrupt SF

Sep 18, 2013
4 minutes read

Three days at one of the world’s biggest technology conferences - right in the middle of San Francisco. I was right there - at The Consourse - which is a gigantic barn. (Jul 2014: the venue seems to be closed now and apartments will be built there?).

The schedule

  • [Day 0] Hackathon / workshops: It’s fitting that being a participant of Angelhack, I participate here. Almost a thousand developers took part in this.
  • [Day 1] Presentations / Battlefield: Hackathon presentations / Conference day 1 / Battlefield eliminations
  • [Day 2] Conference day 2 / Battlefield eliminations: This is where everything begins. Going around the startup alley was brilliant.
  • [Day 3] Conference day 3 / Battlefield finals: The juice is right here. Amazing talks and the Battlefield finalists.

The Concourse

From the entrance, it doesn’t look big - but when I entered and got registered, I started exploring hte place. Wow, it was HUGE. 3000 people together in one room and it did not feel crowded at all.

There were tables setup for the hackathon. Must have been almost a hundred big tables. Even after that, there was enough place in the middle to host a concert (bigger than places like Fox Oakland, etc).

I explored the place. And found what I had seen was just half the venue. There was an equally big “auditorium” kind of place behind the hackathod area. Wow - that is one HUGE venue. As they say, The Concourse is one big barn.

The hackathon

This was surreal. There were over a thousand participants. People came in with their own monitors, ergo keyboards, the whole shebang.

The sponsors wanted to push for their technology - so the workshops by sponsors had prizes attached. Chevrolet, for example, wanted people to write code for their cars - they had a BIG (a few thousand dollars) worth of prize money. A book publisher did the same.

I teamed up with a fellow Angelhack buddy from Thailand (Nitit). We decided to write an android app for visual programming languages. The code is on github - but meh, it’s not even complete. We decided to take it easy this time. The Angelhack Pitch Polishing sessions had taken a heavy toll on our rest + the jetlag.

Presenting the hack

After the hackthon day / night, everyone got the opportunity to present their project - in front of 2000 people. The setup they had for the presentation was top notch. They did one presentation after the other - everyone had a minute.

There were almost 300 projects to be demoed - this itself took almost the entire day. Surprisingly, there was always an audience listening to the hacks.

Our turn came, we presented and went back excited :)

Startup alley

This was the one thing that attracts hundreds of VCs, investors and startup founders to Techcrunch Disrupt SF. The mix of people - from all around the world, the kind of startups, the people, the press was something I had never seen.

There was two days of software startups and the last day was reserved for hardware only startups. I saw some popular kickstarter projects (which I had only read about). The founders were right in front of me!

Just talking and interacting with them was brilliant - the insights they had into their product was somewhat inspiring. Every angle - they got it covered! I mean, of course - they are presenting at Disrupt.

A few that really stood out:

  • Livemap: Google maps in your helmet
  • Zackees: Turn signals for cyclists

The India Pavillion

I was so proud to see some good startups from India there! Yourstory was there as wellThe founders were right in front of me!

  • AgileCRM: I really liked their idea - a programmable CRM. I could see myself using that.
  • AppSurfer: They want to make ‘installing’ apps on your mobile phone obsolete!\
  • ShepHertz: A cloud ecosystem for apps - they handle everything.

The Battlefield

There were about 30 teams. Spread over two days, each team got 6 minutes to demo / present their idea and be interrogated by the judges. The presentations were perfect. The judges asked some pretty deep questions to the participants. All of this is available on youtube!

There were two companies by Indians - Tangible play (now called Osmo) and Tidepool. Tangible play is a company that does image processing (woohoo!) on mobile devices to produce games that are tangible and yet have a virtual component to them. Tidepool has games that let you figure out your personality type.

The winners of the Battlefield were a comany called Layer - these people are a communication platform. They are an ‘infrastructure’ company - they allow others to do audo and video communications over the internet.

Back home

It’s good to be back home now - so inspired. And their ambient music loops are still ringing in my head.