Image via TechCrunch
Since 2011, TechCrunch has held the Disrupt conference, a cross between the Startup Olympics and a Startup Debutant Ball, in locations across the world. This year, the 3-day conference will be held in the sprawling Moscone Center in Downtown San Francisco where over 10,000 attendees and 400 media outlets will convene to discover the latest in AI, AR, gaming, robotics, and more.
Entrepreneurs, investors, hackers, and anyone who is interested in technology will attend workshops, learn about new and innovative companies, discover talent, and hear TechCrunch editors and key players in tech speak on the latest developments that are shaping the industry.
Along with standard conference fare like panels on how to start in the industry, networking events, and vendors, Disrupt has some distinctly startup and tech focused offerings:
Startups in the early stages of development (prior to A series funding) pitch their ideas to investors and press, hoping to win over the press and to secure funding in a Shark Tank-esque competition. (The prize is for the winning start up is $100,000, with alumni of Startup Battlefield going on to raise over $8 billion in funding.) Past winners have include Dropbox, Mint, and Trello.
Showcasing over 1,200 pre A-series startups, Startup Alley includes exhibitors that have applied to participate and TC Top Picks, startups that have been hand selected by TechCrunch for exceptionalism in their respective categories. Startups exhibit hoping to attract users, gain press traction, and meet potential investors to bring their product to the next level – in 2017 Over $37M in seed and A series funding was raised by exhibitors within the first four months of showing at Disrupt.
For the last few years, the Hackathon has been Disrupt’s discovery grounds for human talent rather than an app or service. Teams of hackers, programmers, and coders would convene at the conference and build a project from the ground up in only 24 hours. This year, Disrupt is opening submissions globally and holding its first ever Virtual Hackathon, giving teams three months to work before the conference.
Out of thousands of hack submissions, the top 70 teams will be invited to Disrupt, with the top 30 get to demo their work. Of those, 10 will be selected to pitch their ideas for a chance to win a $10,000 grand prize.
The Changing Landscape of Tech
As we look towards the future of tech, Disrupt is not just a source of new information, but an indicator of what’s happening in the industry. Silicon Valley has always been seen a as a predominantly white and male industry that has struggled with diversifying at all levels. Though far from equitable, this year’s list of speakers may indicate there is growing representation for women and people of color – of the 127 listed speakers, 37% are women and 27% are POC.
In addition to the range of speakers, we are also seeing a growing number of representatives from companies that deal in public service, rather than capital. Rose Afriyie, co-founder and executive director of mRelief and Frederick Hutson, founder and CEO of Pigeonly all scheduled to speak on a panel on Justice and Diversity, a discussion on how tech can impower underserved and marginalized communities.
We are most interested in seeing how the conference evolves to accommodate this growing arm of the industry, and will be following the Disrupt the rest of the week for more breaking news. Join us on the blog again soon for our thoughts and insights from the conference!