Follow all the news from the Tech Crunch Disrupt conference 2014 at the Old Fish Market, Billingsgate!
it’s 11 o’ clock, and time to hear from Matthew Prince at Cloudflare
how did they feel about placing 2nd in the San Francisco Tech Crunch conf?
Matthew: we wouldn’t have been able to cope with the demand if we had come first!
on diversity: Cloudflare say their first 20 employees were critical to the success of the start-up, and they came from all walks of life.
We’ve only just begin to implement our management strategy and we have 120 staff, we didn’t want to bother too much about allocating titles like VP, we lost some people because of that but most people didn’t care what their titles was, they were just passionate about the project!
on getting the right investors on board: “at every step our litmus test has been “if our worst case scenario was to happen, can we call these people and be completely honest about where we’re at?”
“find partners who have done deals in your space, you need to pick up momentum fast and then you can do follow on fund raising”
“In our first round we only pitched 1 investor”. Do your due diligence on your investors first! “There are great investors out there who would have been terrible investors for CloudFlare”
“An entrepreneur must be a great storyteller!”
“How do you solve a problem like China?”
“in the next 6 months we’ll open 6 new projects in China – Tech Crunch will be one of the first to go live with us”
“We’re watching the activity in Hong Kong very closely right now”. We find ourselves sitting between protestors and government – our job is to protect the internet”.
“Negotiation with China took 3 years – we thought that our only route into China was to start a coup – they (joke) “started doing a Powerpoint on it!”. Very droll
Final piece of advice: “choose your co-founders wisely!”
Thanks Cloudflare, you were speaking to an appreciative audience there no doubt, but apparently Europe don’t laugh at Cloudflare’s jokes! Shame on us.
11.32am: Start-up battlefield final – who will win the “disrupt cup”?
Matt Brady: CMO of Just Eat
Sonali de Rycker: Partner of Accel Partners
Brent Hoberman: Co founder of PRO Founders Capital
Klaus Hommels: Founder, Lakestar
Mattias Ljungman: @ljungman founder
Good luck presenting to those heavyweights!
first up, its Crate the Elastic Data Store
They have 6 minutes, here comes the demo…healthy data storage is the theme, hilarious alpine motif with comedy hikers…
these chaps are full service and allow you to scale to your heart’s content…IoT, Backend, Advertising…Crate are OpenSource with paid for licences too. Anyway signing up today will get an onboarding session with the Chief data architects…
large round of applause, now for the panel!
Crate has raised 1.2 million – they are trying to stop us having to mix and match technologies, Crate is a one stop shop
How have they progressed vs expectations? “We are thrilled, we have 40,000 client downloads, 10,000 server downloads”
First enterprise license released in Q1 – “we already have 3 enterprises paying us”
some tricky questions being asked about fundraising targets “we need more traction for a series A later this year, its what keeps us awake at night”.
Sonali is asking who Crate’s competitors are: “there are a lot of existing technologies that don’t have the ease of use that we have. Couchbase, perhaps?
“we can completely change the existing cost structures”!
told they have just 2 sentences left, one half of Crate embarks on a mighty pitch and is called out by presenter, time to move on.
12:00 OK, time for PHOTOMATH!
this is smart, take a photo of a sum using your smartphone and PHOTOMATH will tell you the answer, and the steps involved in solving the problem
Every student now has a maths teacher in their pocket!
14 banks across Europe have already signed up!
Over to the panel: why the licensing model? “It works for us, we’re cashflow positive!”
Its superinteresting, extremely relevant, but who’s it for? Banks? Students?
2 uses, we’re hearing, diversified product range being launched, can cope with both markets
Does the IP allow you to operate in other verticals too?
Technology covers all maths up to age of 14, PHOTOMATH looking to partner with other educational companies, someone who can do the product development better than us.
Panel are querying the business model now: “we will decide on the way, we will learn what is happening and we can be flexible, watch the customers”.
What’s next? IBAN, plus many other processes that can be speeded up using same technology.
Its getting quite heated, the questions from the panel keep coming….
Finally the panel let PHOTOMATH go
Here is OSCADI, the third pitchers in this year’s final
Medical: you can capture photos of medical problems, upload to a database and consult a doctor by sharing photos, the demo is impressive so far.
Many medical decisions need to be taken quickly, OSCADI can help this to happen. In trials with clinics in Mozambique and other countries. Looking to gain approval to sell into Euro and US markets.
Panel: who is this for, can young mother’s use it? Not yet, but maybe down the line.
What are you disrupting? its simple functionality but it makes a big difference! Clients are requesting the API, device will cost under 5,000 euros in 3 to 5 years
For now we’ll sell the hardware, we have a freemium version for the cloud. Won’t be subscription for now.
The software is compatible with IOS
Finally, why is it unique? You can do ultrasound, the software is flexible, the images can be sent directly. The plan is to go through re-seller channels in the New Year
12:38 Last pitch: Disease Diagnostics
Malaria is a global problem estimated at 12bn dollars
This is a product that can tell if you are infected. It can diagnose everybody in the room – twice! (about 1,000 people) in just 1 day.
The device can diagnose the level of infection. It was researched at MIT, has been tested in South America, and can be deployed in airports, local transport, communities.
Interest from all over the world, including the military.
Warm reception for the Disease Diagnostics pitch. Mattias Ljungman can recall his father battling malaria during his time in Africa
John Lewandowski, CEO, has developed the product. 20 units built so far.
Any data on false negatives? Robert says false positives also a problem due to cost of treatment. Not sure he answered the false negative question.
IP protected: its getting quite technical here, short answer yes its protected.
and that’s it, the judges have gone to deliberate and its time for lunch! In a bit.
Lunchtime is long and we’re watching a sort of “gridwalk” by journalist and former Tech Crunch writer (I think) John Biggs, he is doing the rounds and speaking to some amazing companies: John tackled “Hardware Alley”, and is now discussing which ones smelt the best…?? “None of them!” Not surprising really, its a crowded auditorium.
Right there are all sorts of panel discussions taking place, this one features 4 European VCs including Balderton Capital:
“You never know where the next big hit is going to come from”
“Nokia went through many iterations before it became a mobile phone company”…bizarre justification for the Just Eat flotation from one of the panel! Is it about to change its product line to make up ground on US Floated companies?
“What about BlaBlaCar?
“Who knows how big it could get? Peer to Peer car sharing is the future?
Will Europe ever have a Google, Alibaba or Facebook? Not convinced the panel think it will.
14:40 – Fireside chat with Morten Lund, LUNDXY
A controversial chat so far, Morten is not too impressed with Europe, too many over 40’s “sitting around eating doughnuts”. That’s why they we are in a recession.
Morten is tempted to invest in lending companies, he’s “just a hub” since his recent bankruptcy.
Morten is showing photos of some of his buddies, pretty outlandish stuff: he smokes, he’s controversial, he’s every inch the entrepreneur.
“I love to work from home, I have 4 kids now, they come home from school and see crazy people pitching”.
“I love chaos, you can’t control anything anyway”. “I’m super f*cking happy!”
What do people say about Morten? “Morten goes in with his heart and his d*ck”!
“He has a tendency to fall out with people”; “but I have a lot of make-ups too”. “I don’t want to be friends with everyone”.
“I have a couple of small funds now, its not that much fun to be a VC”. In response to accusation he “slags off VCs”
“They report to pension funds on a monthly basis, the most boring people in the world”
“Alot of people don’t like to invest with me because I speak the truth”
“Bankruptcy has become my new brand” Don’t promote too broadly, only where you can see the talent”
“Entrepreneurship is for the hardcore, the big egos”.
The highlight of Morten’s career? “I’m not sure, will probably be within the couple of months, the deal is there!” I’m mostly proud of the partners I’ve had who are still doing crazy things”
14:56 interview with Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton
why did you make these things?
“Everyone my age had some sort of computer they used to program with, there’s a straight line between doing that and being and engineer”.
“We were struggling to find people, even at the University of Cambridge, to hire computer programmers”.
“We give Raspberry Pi away for free to promising students”.
The Raspberry Pi “hat” – the standard for add-on boards. Lots of people are making hats already, for home automation for example. The “pi-top”, currently raising huge sums on Indiegogo.
“The original intention behind Raspberry Pi was to get kids programming again.”
“We have been saying for a while the display accessory has been coming, now its finally coming” an extra USB point to power the Pi. You end up with a stack with a Raspberry Pi on it.
Fair to say its getting technical.
Eben started out as a teacher, now he is full time on Raspberry Pi. Scaling up production is one of the Company’s biggest challenges. “You have to join the queue, but we do a good line in yelling; there are still some who yell louder, though”.
“We originally said we would make a 25 dollar computer, currently its a 35 dollar product”
“Our business model is capital lite, we are a licensing business. That’s helped us scale fast”.
Why have you stuck with the non-profit model
“we’re doing it because we think its the right thing to do. We don’t see how you can make big money from this.”
So not tempted to buy a helicopter? “I bring it up in every board meeting!”
“We’re doing teacher training, 25 teachers at a time”. When we started the product we just thought we’d hand them out to Cambridge University applicants”
All kids in the UK have to learn computer programming. “It can be pretty intimidating”
“I’m really hoping now I can branch out and do something of my own”.
“The A+plus model we’ve developed we have high hopes for, we can really do something big with this product”
15:17: Fireside chat with Eric Wahlforss, Soundcloud
“We’re onto the third stage, the revenue piece”, that’s where we’re going.
“We’ve had 10 million creators in last year. There’s alot of breadth, and a lot of depth”.
Own Soundcloud is our creator program, gives you an opportunity to earn revenue. We only work with a small number of founders but we’re increasing the bucket”
“We really have the whole spectrum of musicians and broadcasters. We have tried to create a program that works creatively for everyone”.
On copyright protection: “I can’t comment on the specifics of content, but we take it very seriously, we want to find a way that benefits everyone”
Is the remix culture no longer protected?
“I can’t comment” “Why not?” “Its complicated”. “Is it?” Great interviewing, almost had Eric on the ropes there!
“Brands can promote products or songs. Yaguar (I think he is saying Jaguar) are on board, but its very early days.”
“The model will be similar to Spotify, with ads between songs.” Re-inventing the radio, then?
Is your content getting harder to monetise?
“we’re trying to build something sustainable for creators and listeners”
Can Soundcloud succeed independently, will you have to IPO?
Or will you team up with Spotify, Twitter (as per the rumours)?
“In general, music is super engaging, it fits with everybody. That’s why its interesting, that’s why there’s inbound interest”.
“We’re reducing Soundcloud down to a few core experiences. can we make it work with that kind of simplicity?”
“We launched with Twitter last week. We want to integrate into the places where it makes sense”.
Does there need to be more consolidation?
“I’m still very excited about what we do. Platforms where anyone can come in, those are the kinds of platforms I get excited about”.
Is there a disconnect, is there a way to make money and stay cool?
“now we’re helping artists earn a living, but that has been the plan for years. The kinds of conversations we’re going through, we’re breaking new ground, its challenging and super exciting”.
15.38: Fireside chat with Mikkel Svane, ZenDesk
Plug alert! Mikkel has a book out, its called “Startup land”. But why is it so dark?
“In Denmark we have a very long, cold winter. Its like a start-up!”
Tell us about when you hit rock bottom?
“During the dotcom boom we had a great time, sold our product everywhere. Then the resellers folded, we had invested all of our own money, we were financing our own growth through acquisitions. It was a tough time, we had to let go of alot of employees. One guy we employed we discovered he had died during the night. We found him in his apartment, then we had to go and make more people redundant.”
When should you take a company public?
“Never do it until you’re ready. Its an immense amount of work.”
Did you float ZenDesk at the right time?
“There may be a correction soon, but stock markets, they go up, down, up, down, just concentrate on your own performance.”
“When I entered the quiet period before IPO, I think the government were monitoring my Twitter account!”
“The cool thing about a start-up is the journey, the learning something new every day, meeting new people. That’s what I embrace, I wouldn’t swap it for anything!”
But will you post a loss when you see our results?
“Try our product, visit our website”. No comment there, then, I guess.
Charles River, your first investor, tried to persuade you to move to Boston from Copenhagen, Is this a growing trend?
“if you invest your money, you want it to be a few streets from where you live, not 9 time zones away.”
What’s the worst thing about taking other people’s money to build a Company?
“You want to work with investors that you like listening to. The process can feel a little dirty. All these grand plans and projections, how you will change the world, then a few million dollars hit your bank account. It can feel a little dirty, you want to take a shower”.
Mikkel, it turns out, has picked some very weird names for his startups, including Caput. (Insert joke of your choice here!)
You say “hire more women than men”, but you don’t. How come. How do you think women should ask for a raise (with thanks to Satya Nadella)?
Just say “I want a raise”. Simple, people.
“I love the energy of new startups, but I can’t name the next Zendesk.”
fiery discussion about disruptive technology
Taavet - software is eating banking
Damian – there will be more Fintech companies, but currently when you look at the landscape there are more FinServices
Jeff – Frankfurt is the home of deep hardcore tech plays, but London is uniquely well positioned in the FinTech space
Jeff – when you try to start a business, tell the world! Finally people are starting to get the message. The start-up eco system is gathering pace.
Taavet – we’re able to provide a service that brings a smile to the face of the user. That’s the secret of our growth.
The UK is a digitally heavy, early adopting community. A great breeding ground for FinTech
Jeff – Europe is at an interesting inflection point. There’s enough digital take up, teh raw materials are there, and less institutional opposition. Just the right balance.
Damian – There’s less VC competition in Europe. I don’t want to come across as London critical, its a fantastic place to do business. European VCs are pragmatic and hard nosed, they produce different kinds of companies to the US investors who have a greater appetite for risk.
Taavet – We are not scared of jumping on a plane to the US, but they should come to see us too!
Jeff – we’re easily beating the US players because the US players don’t even exist yet. Increasingly we are seeing US VCs who are prepared to put money into Europe
Damian – there are so many attractive companies in Europe and to US investors they are all arbitrage opportunities.
Jeff – there’s some great data out there supporting the fact that Euro companies can get in to seed funding at a lower valuation
Taavet - you need to expand cross border as early as possible, then you have a better model to go the US, to go to Japan. The modern generation is expanding very fast, we think about it earlier in the development of the Company
Damian – there’s a perfect storm brewing in the FinTech sector over here; we have a phenomenal amount of serendipity with the banks. Its much easier to do business than it was
Jeff – government, particularly in the UK, has been hugely supportive, going to number 10 Downing Street is always lots of fun!
Taavet - what we are seeing is just the beginning of the disruption of teh banks. London has the largest number of Fintech employees in teh world.
That’s all folks, thanks panel. All 3 of those chaps were very interesting, but for my money the eccentric genius award goes to Damian at Duedil. No wonder they are one of the most talked about companies in London.
The demand is there in Europe, it was our fastest growing market when we launched. But 90% of the business is in US
Our operations team on the ground was very good. It wasn’t as hard as starting from scratch.
How does Homejoy fit into the Home Services space?
“We’re seeing a lot of clones, but our biggest competitor is independent cleaning professionals.” Previously if you wanted a cleaner, you’d go to a listings website, Craigslist or a friends recommendation. Fascinating stuff.
This is a great company, but cleaning companies don’t make great copy…why have HomeJoy raised their prices? “To improve the quality”
“We’ve created some great playbooks in terms of gaining traction in new markets; every time we do it the playbook gets better.”
Do the people who sign up to Homejoy tend to be cleaners already? “For the most part yes”.
We’re out of time, that was more interesting than I have given it credit for.
17:01 – Fireside Chat – Frederic Mazzella, founder of BlaBlaCar
You recently raised 100m dollars from Index Ventures, the largest ever for a French start-up, how did you do it?
“We had a goal for each raise, right from the beginning. We raised the money this time to become global, we have to take what has been successful in the countries we are in and transport it.”
2m people use the service every month, why aren’t you in the US
“There is no good or bad answer. Gas is much cheaper in the US, so there is less incentive to car share. We can’t do everything at once. I don’t know when we will be there”.
Are you afraid of the competition in the US?
“There would be competition as usual”
Why do so few people use the service in the UK? (the interviewer unleashes a damning statistic about travel between Manchester and London next Friday; tip: don’t try and Blabla it if you’re planning a trip, interviewer follows up by saying English trains are rubbish! Way to go, he’s stealing the show.
“I am not very impatient for success here, we need to take our time.”
“The service doesn’t change the way I am” (on being asked how he feels about being front page news).
What if there is a serious crash, do you have a back up plan.
“You have to know exactly what happened, and you might prevent it next time”.
“With ride sharing, the driver does not make a profit, they just share the cost as if they were sharing with friends or family”
Do you get along with your investors?
“Absolutely, your investors are people who believe in your story. We are not burning money, we have a business model We make about 2 or 3 Euros per ride.”
“its lucky we can run the Company from Paris, we want to and we can do it. There are a lot of good engineers in Paris and they are loyal” Interview now no longer controversial, has become engaging.”
No sign of the Fireside chat with Ed Vaizey (Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy), by the way, surely the one most people were waiting for (despite the parade of millionaires and controversial big mouthed entrepreneurs who admittedly provide infinitely more entertainment than a politician).
Solomon: sometimes you have a crisis in quality because nobody is paying for anybody else’s time.
Peter: you need to understand the difference between value creation and value capture. Github is Wikipedia for code, but any company that can’t immediately capture value needs to have a long term plan.
Solomon: Open source is competitive and aggressive, your on the edge all the time, but if you prove your worth you create a network. There’s a critical mass, a first mover advantage. There’s 2,000 people on our message board all day long
Peter: When I invested in Twitter in 2009, somebody told me, its like Child star theory, how real is it? Zen was teh hottest thing ever but it never really caught on. The market is more efficient now. Docker was a stars aligned moment.
Solomon: I’m an engineer at heart, I’m always thinking about the next broken thing.
Peter: there’s definitely still the “oh shit” moment.
Peter: If you look forward 10 years, internal technology companies will become more like Uber; as investors its much easier to pinpoint where lightning has struck before
Solomon: “why is Docker not a French Company?, it started out in France out of my Mum’s basement. I tried very hard to raise funds but never succeeded. I had no track record to speak of but I knew friends who were raising money. If you’re working on fundamental technology, its a very specialised field and you need to give it more time.”
Peter: I’m convinced there will be some breakout companies soon. You need a culture that supports it, and that is in place.
17:48 – Ed Vaizey is on stage! With Mike Butcher (its his sixth interview of the conference, and he just got to say “yes minister”!
Ed - when Tech City started I wasn’t convinced. But we have the skills here.
Ed is singing the praises of EIS and SEIS, as well as R&D tax credits. Quite right, Ed!
As a broad principle, we in the UK recognize that we compete with the likes of Ireland, we want to keep it competitive, we want to reward people and companies.
I think its perfectly legitimate for people to question big companies. But we’re after jobs, we want this to be place where people can set up their HQs
How can you improve Broadband, so we can become the South Korea of Europe?
The price is very competitive in this country. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make Broadband better.
Can you open up VISAS more for entrepreneurs?
the entrepreneur VISA came out of discussions that we had. We should do all we can to bring more talent in.
On Bitcoin and Crypto currencies
we’re doing a major programme of work, we want to make payments systems faster, we want to look at different technologies and how they can help consumers. The treasury is very interested in looking at this.
How can the UK spread wealth outside of the London Tech community?
I got involved in the gaming industry, but I didn’t know much about it. It turns out the gaming industry is in every conurbation in the country. You’ve got the Cambridge, Oxford and London triangle, but you also have Manchester, Gateshead, Newcastle.
How can you get the Square Mile interested in start-up flotation. Can you incentivise startup acquisition by large corporates
I think that’s the big question. Joanna Shields has a strategy called the future fifty. You have to work closely with them. How can you get the City of London interested in Tech. That is the great nut to crack. The untold story of Tech is the people who finance these companies, who make the punt. VCs are the people we are going to have more meetings with.
Banging on about Tech is what we should be doing! Driverless cars, peopleless restaurants (that’s 2 jokes so far, Ed is on a roll!). We want to find out how the internet of things can help cities. We need to look at standards and so on, we want to be a world leader. And the same goes for 5G
Finance and skills are the 2 issues I would like to see more progress on. I am the minister for culture and the digital economy and it is the best job in government! Said with moderate enthusiasm.
Its about changing the way we think about things. The reason people like me got into government was to change things.
Thanks Ed Vaizey, who suggested Mike Butcher looks like Jose Mourinho. Yes minister, is the reply.
And that’s about it – except for the announcement of the winners of the Disrupt cup, stay tuned!
A big round of applause for Mike Butcher who has achieved his vision of bringing Disrupt Europe to London!
And the winners of the Disrupt cup are: Crate !!!!!
that’s all from Haggerston Times, if you enjoyed reading this please like, share, invest, reward etc etc. Thanks