Recap on TechCrunch50 2009

I attended TechCrunch50 in San Francisco last week to represent The Rackspace Cloud. TechCrunch is a technology news website covering new technologies from start-ups and existing companies making an impact in the technology world. This is the third year they have put on an event where selected start up companies can come pitch their product idea to a panel of experts where the winner gets funding from a venture capital firm. This year, 50 companies were up and the prize was $50K – TechCrunch50.

My role there was to meet potential customers, after all, each of these start-ups need a place to host their website right? And the PR they receive from the event will increase their web traffic to amounts they might not have planned for. The other part of my role there was to meet existing customers and hopefully get a success story out of them. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to meet every customer, I did get to speak with LocalBacon, Ecycler, CrowdFlower and RedBeacon (winner of TechCrunch50). I also got a photo with guest panel expert, Chamillionaire himself.

In addition to the 50 presenters, TechCrunch has a Demopit where starts ups can have a table to do product demos. There were lots of interesting ideas out there. With the economy in the state that it is, it’s very inspiring and motivating to see these start-ups be bold and innovative.

Are these products going to change the way we do things? It’s hard to tell when a company is just starting off. Sarah Lacy of TechCrunch interviewed Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and TechCrunch50 panel expert, and he had a comment for these start-ups,  “Why aren’t you trying to change the world?,” and Lacy countered with, “To be fair, is selling shoes changing the world?” Good point. I’d say it doesn’t necessarily have to be an innovative product but the way it’s deployed has to be innovative. I think what makes Zappos a success is the technology they have in their warehouses to be able to select shoes and ship them quickly – which enables Zappos to deliver excellent service.

Although I didn’t capture every start up’s pitch, here’s a few where I like the concept and could potentially find useful in my personal life:

Udorse.com –You can tag your photos with the brands that are in the photos. If someone sees your photo and likes your shirt, they can click on the Udorse tag and it will take you to that brand’s website for purchase. They already have partnered with big brand names. I think this will be really cool for start up designers trying to get their names out there. You know how you read those Style magazines and in the sub title, the brand the celebrity is wearing is always quoted. Now you can see what real people are wearing via the web.

Ecycler.com – It’s almost like an eBay/Craigslist for recyclables. These guys want to help all those that don’t have curbside pick up but have a whole lot of recycables. It’s time consuming to try to find a place to take them. It’d be nice if they could be picked up right at your doorstep. If you’re like me, I actually do have curbside pickup but they don’t pick up everything. I can sign up on Ecycler and chances are, there is somebody that wants my recyclables.

Duffelup.com – Are you traveler? Do people ever ask you “Oh I am going to be traveling here, what did you do, where did you stay, where do you eat when you were there?” And then you have to go search your old emails and hopefully remember everything. Now, you can save all your travel itineraries on duffelup and share them with whomever you want. That’s convenience.

Kooaba.com – You can take a photo of an image (newspaper article, magazine article, an ad you saw somewhere) and upload to your Kooaba library for your reference. Why I like this idea? So I can take snapshots of only the magazine articles I want to read instead of stacking up on a big pile of magazines! Especially useful when I am traveling.

That’s a wrap.

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