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Techcrunch: Set to Disrupt NYC from 29 April – 1 May 2013

Dis­rupt is a place where any star­tup’s dreams can come true. It’s a plat­form for new busi­ness­es to high­light their prod­ucts and maybe even snag them­selves a shiny investor or two…

Fol­low­ing the suc­cess of 2012’s final Techcrunch Hackathon and Dis­rupt which took place in San Fran­cis­co, the America’s fore­most tech­nol­o­gy event will trav­el back to NYC and pro­vide a plat­form for star­tups to hawk their wares and for those look­ing for media jobs the chance to meet poten­tial employers.

This year’s Sep­tem­ber event saw around 330 new busi­ness­es vying for the atten­tions of vis­i­tors, which includ­ed investors and incu­ba­tors as well as jour­nal­ists – all eager to make their pre­dic­tion on what might be the next big thing.

Bring out the Hackers

The Dis­rupt event always kicks off with the Hackathon – a 24-hour chance for devel­op­ers and hack­ers to show what they’re made of and come up with a fan­tas­tic con­cept. It’s a fun way to make a seri­ous point – that great ideas are borne from col­lab­o­ra­tion, cre­ativ­i­ty and good old fash­ioned hard work.

This year’s Hackathon again demon­strat­ed the tenac­i­ty of the hack­ers, devel­op­ers, design­ers and project man­agers, who, fuelled by donuts, beer and red bull; go to war to prove they’ve got the best idea over a man­ic 24-hour period.

The Hackathon cul­mi­nates in all entrants mak­ing a fren­zied one-minute pitch to a pan­el of indus­try experts, which this time around con­sist­ed of some seri­ous­ly big hit­ters includ­ing Kent Brew­ster, Google+ Prod­uct VP Bradley Horowitz, Sci­ence Co-Founder Peter Pham and Men­lo Ven­tures MD Shervin Pishevar.

This year’s Hackathon crown went to Live­Bolt, a cloud-based iden­ti­ty man­age­ment sys­tem that involves a block of met­al that slides on the back of an actu­al lock, and an iPhone app. Once they’ve been ver­i­fied, users can autho­rize the met­al, using the app, to open and close the lock. The team snatched the $5,000 prize mon­ey from the 146 oth­er Hackathon entrants, prov­ing that not all tech star­tups have to steer clear of hardware.

Star­tups are Where It’s At

How­e­vere the Hackathon is real­ly just the entrée – the starter to Disrupt’s main meal, and where the Hackathon whet the appetite, Dis­rupt 2012’s 329 star­tups will sat­is­fy the crav­ings of any tech fan.

Start­up Alley, Hard­ware Alley, the Impact Pavil­ion and all of the Inter­na­tion­al Pavil­ions – Dis­rupt real­ly does have some­thing for every­one and it’s the ide­al venue for any­one look­ing for a job in the tech­nol­o­gy sector.

Any star­tups look­ing for back­ing, guid­ance, sup­port or even just a pho­to­graph with a mem­ber of the tech­nocrati won’t have been dis­ap­point­ed as this time around the likes of Mark Zucker­berg, Maris­sa May­er, Jack Dorsey and Kevin Rose were all in atten­dance. Zucker­berg was even heard to declare that Dis­rupt was big­ger than his own Face­book conferences.

All star­tups at Dis­rupt are there to attract the atten­tion of investors, but they can also com­pete to win $50,000. By pitch­ing dur­ing the Bat­tle­field stages the star­tups are slow­ly whit­tled down by anoth­er pan­el of indus­try experts which this time includ­ed Maris­sa May­er, Mike Arring­ton and Chris Dixon among others.

Despite intense com­pe­ti­tion from com­pa­nies such as Expect Labs, Gyft, Lit Motors and Pri­or Knowl­edge, the vic­tors this time around were YourMe­chan­ic – a web­site and app that aims to make get­ting your car fixed a cinch. In fact, such is the con­fi­dence in this Cal­i­for­nia com­pa­ny that they’ve already scored $1.8 mil­lion from Y Com­bi­na­tor and cash injec­tions from Mike Arring­ton through his Crunch­Fund, Yuri Mil­ner and Andreessen Horowitz.

It’s Not all Cham­pagne and Flowers

While the Hackathon teams and star­tups are allowed to get excit­ed by their appear­ance at Dis­rupt and what it might bring, leg­endary investor Vin­od Khosla was there to remind vis­i­tors and exhibitors that life as a start­up is not all plain sail­ing and that the enthu­si­asm and excite­ment of the ear­ly days must be tem­pered with a cool busi­ness head.  Khosla wants to make sure investors know that invest­ing is as much about advice and assis­tance as it is about money.

Some­what con­tro­ver­sial­ly he was quick to iden­ti­fy Y Com­bi­na­tor as a per­pe­tra­tor, a set up he believes cre­ates star­tups with over­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed pitch­es that attract so much pub­lic­i­ty they are effec­tive­ly priced out of the mar­ket. He stat­ed that by pre­sent­ing them­selves as super-slick from the off can pre­vent a start­up attract­ing the invest­ment and sup­port from top-tier advi­sors that they so des­per­ate­ly need.

Khosla believes that star­tups should be free to pair up with any­one who accepts their terms, but that’s not the way he likes to play it.

He said: “My job is not to be an entrepreneur’s friend. It’s to dri­ve them to do more and achieve greater heights. That’s why I nev­er call myself a VC. I call myself a ven­ture assistant.”

It cer­tain­ly seems that if Dis­rupt 2013 is any­thing like Dis­rupt 2012, there will be some­thing for every­one regard­less of what they’re look­ing for.

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