The Ultimate Guide to Attending TechCrunch Disrupt
From strategies to hacks, how to make the most of the event.
What to expect when your startup does TechCrunch Disrupt.
TechCrunch Disrupt has the reputation of being the premier event in the startup universe and that is more then justified. Alumni of Disrupt include titans of the startup world who have gone on to become major companies in their respective industries. It is wrong to discredit such revolutionary companies by attributing their success purely on being crowned at the battlefield event. Some could argue it does not help at all. In fact the value proposition Disrupt offers the majority of startups there, the ones who had to shell out 3,000 dollars for a 2×2 round table in the events sideshow, is murky at best. What does a presence at the event actually buy startups? Startups, which by the way, have limited resources, can ill afford to burn runway by attending a superfluous event.
TechCrunch Disrupt is a contest in every sense. Even if you are not invited to present up on stage in the battlefield, you will still be taking part in a cutthroat competition. Your startup will have to scratch and claw its way through the sea of other companies surrounding you, in order to win the attention of anyone worth your while.
If you’ve ever wanted to know what it feels like to have a second face on your abdomen, try walking through startup alley. No one looks each other in the eye; instead, as a passerby, the focus of the founders’ gazes to your left and right will be on the name tag dangling from your Disrupt lanyard. The tag conveniently states your role in the startup world with a color-coded strip. Founders waste no time deciphering the hue hierarchy to determine which shades to target. The Press, VCs, Sponsors, and fellow founders are each assigned a color. Understandably, like a pretty girl come Prom season, those bearing the right color on their name tag are swarmed by a barrage of founders. And once again, much like prom season, founders, many former and current nerds, face soul crushing rejection. Worse, should a member of the Press or a VC be roped into engaging with a founder, the interaction often commences with an awkward introduction, followed by a convoluted explanation of what they do, and ends with a sweaty handshake goodbye — once again just like Prom.
If you do not want to waste both 3,000 dollars and an excellent opportunity for your startup, heed the advice bellow to make the most of your TechCrunch Disrupt experience.
1. Have a purpose:
|We went to Disrupt to attract Press coverage/ explore partnerships|
In a startup only one-thing matters, sustainable growth. Pick a KPI as your true north and make sure that every decision you make has a direct correlation with growing it. That kind of focused neurosis with pushing the needle for that KPI needs to be at the forefront of your decision to attend Disrupt. What do you hope to accomplish at Disrupt should directly influence your metric that matters. Are you there to attract press coverage? Connect with VCs? Find strategic partnerships? Any of those are fine, but make sure you are not there simply to “have a presence”— choose a purpose and narrow in on it.
2. Don’t waste time:
|This guy, probably a waste of time…|
Now you know why you are going, and how, if successful, it will benefit your start up, but that is a huge if. Remember the aforementioned dehumanizing experience of walking through startup alley and having every one focusing on your name tag? Well you will need to be the one who stares. You only get one day at Disrupt with a table, you can only speak with one person at a time, and you have only one chance to impress your target. That being said, you will need to insure that you do not waste time when speaking with the wrong person. I hate to say waste time, as everyone at TechCrunch has value, and depending on whom you ask, so do human beings everywhere. Some people, however, are truly time killers who, if you let them, will talk to you for hours without saying a thing. There is a way to be friendly and open without getting sucked into conversation with a curious fellow founder in a space completely unrelated to yours. If the person you are speaking with does not promise to deliver much value as a connection, give them your shortest elevator pitch and avoid asking them questions. Be polite, succinct, and friendly. Even still, there will be times you find yourself caught up in fruitless conversation as a promising lead passes by, possibly never to return.
|Teespay creates awesome shirts for your startup and helps get your name out there. Check it out here|
|Interviewing Mike from Rageon.com, the worlds largest all over print online store|
Just because for two of the days you do not have a booth, does not mean you cannot bring value to your startup. Going around speaking with other founders is not just a way to gauge the competition, but is also a valuable way to spread awareness for your startup. View every other startup as an influencer, able to amplify a message to their followers on social media, many of whom are willing early adopters looking for the next great thing. Go booth-to-booth hearing pitches and making introductions. You will be surprised how receptive other founders are to interacting and exploring partnerships/collaboration.
6. Get social:
|The guys at Happy Goon shouting out Unreel!|