Several startups had the chance to demo their products yesterday at the end of the first day of the Tech Crunch Disrupt conference in New York. As part of the event's "Startup Battlefield" competition, where 20 startups compete in a tournament for a grand prize of $50,000, six startups gave short presentations (much like the NY Tech Meetup), but instead of a Q&A from the audience, they were evaluated by a panel of judges, which included Jeffrey Bussgang, General Partner, Flybridge Capital Partners; Chris Fralic, Managing Partner, First Round Capital; Philip Kaplan, Co-founder, Blippy, Josh Williams, CEO, Gowalla; and angel investor Yossi Vardi.
The demos came from the following startups:
Audioo: This web platform works with Google Voice to let users auto-stream and share voicemails. Incorporating social software, users can follow people, manage/edit VMs and search an archive of VMs. The demo also featured an audio appearance by The Jerky Boys (Remember them?), who are affiliated with the company.
Appbistro: Billed as a "marketplace of Facebook tab applications" this startup is targets small business who are trying to optimize their Facebook fan pages without breaking the bank. Businesses can use the marketplace to find apps (both paid and free) to add to their fan pages as a means to engage their customers.
Textingly: Designed to provides a texting address, a web management console and APIs for businesses to create a dialogue with customers, the platform integrates with Facbook, Twitter, email and CRM platform.
VideoGenie: This startup works with brands who wish to generate interest in their products via user generated videos. The website is designed to let product marketers garner testimonials, reviews, suggestions and communications from their customers, which can be incorporated in targeted ad campaigns and giveaways.
Publish2: One of the more confident demos given yesterday afternoon, this startup is purposefully taking on an institution in the world of media – The Associated Press. Rather than us the AP, newspapers across the country can work with this company to access articles from Web sources they might not normally be able to place in their print editions. It also enables papers across the country share content directly.
LiveIntent: Voted in to the agenda at the last minute from the conference attendees, this NYC based startup specializes in taking static social buttons on Web pages (i.e. a Twitter icon) and making them dynamic. If a user rolls over a social button, they will get several options for making connections, rather than a redirect to a solitary link.
Following the presentations was the closing session of the day titled " Does The IPad Change Everything For News, Or Is It Still All About The Web?" which was moderated by New York Times media reporter David Carr and featured panelists Ron Conway, Angel Investor, SV Angel; Eric Hippeau, CEO, The Huffington Post and Norm Pearlstine, Chief Content Officer, Bloomberg.
Early in the discussion, Carr asked the audience how many owned and actively used iPads to make a point about its fast adoption, which lead to many hands holding up many iPads. When asked
if there were any women iPad users in the audience (namely to break up
the all male, all white demographic represented on the panel) he found one to come join the panel which turned out to be Jennifer 8. Lee, a former reporter/associate of Carr at the Times. Overall, the panel agreed that the iPad has tremendous potential and will soon inspire more competitors to produce their own devices to validate the market.
They also agreed that most legacy media's apps for the iPad were not quite up to snuff, offering a lesser version of the same experience found on their news media websites. Conway expressed that legacy media outlets have to delivery a fresh experience "with immediate, real-time content." The panel also agreed that in this early stage, Apple is trying to emulate a business model that has worked previously for them – forcing companies to sell apps rather than Web subscriptions. Unlike the control they have with the iPhone and iTunes, Pearlstine argued that as competition appears in the market, it will force Apple to open up more data to publishes and to partner with them more, rather than dictate all of the conditions for iPad development.