Disrupt NY: Meet the next generation of tech companies

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11 up-and-coming tech companies

Last week, TechCrunch held its annual Disrupt NY event, where hopeful tech companies gather to explain their ideas, show off their products and try to attract allies, funding and attention.

I attended on Monday, May 4th, the first day of the three-day event, and talked to some of the companies exhibiting in Startup Alley, a large, packed room in which several rows of hopefuls showed off their ideas to a loud and lively crowd.

These companies offer an interesting range of business and consumer products and services, from a 360-degree video-creation app to security software that fights foreign hacks. Some have been up and running for a year or two; others are ramping up with products still in development. All are being run and staffed by tech-savvy people who are working hard to try to distinguish themselves in a crowded but exciting marketplace.

What follows are excerpts from my interviews with 11 companies about their products and their goals for the organizations. If you want to hear more in their own words, check out the accompanying videos.

Packet

Aaron Welch
Senior vice president, product

What is your product?

We are a bare-metal cloud infrastructure provider that is combining the consistency and config and availability of the public cloud with the price and performance of co-location or dedicated servers.

How does it work?

We feel like there is a gap in the market for SaaS providers, other platforms, and people who have a presence on the Internet that is critical to them and are deployed on one of the public clouds -- and are feeling the pinch economically of those clouds or doing a lot of engineering acrobatics to deal with some of the performance limitations around those clouds, be it co-tenancy, the network, etc.

There isn't really a platform or option out there that gives you on-demand, over API, consistent configurations very quickly, but that also is economical and as high-performing as dedicated servers.

At what point are you?

We started last July. We're in a private beta; we're going to market in our Parsippany [New Jersey] facility right now, and we'll be in San Jose in September, and in Hong Kong, London and Amsterdam by the end of the year or the beginning of next year. We're onboarding clients right now.

MakersVR by Aroy Innovation

Steven James Kaiser
President and founder

What is your product?

It's the first user-generated content platform for smartphones. It's basically an Instagram or Vine that you can use to create a 360-degree video with your phone. It's really easy to use, it's really cool and it's a great way for people to tell stories in 360 media.

How does it work?

It's a really exciting space. With a lot of the products you have to be connected to a PC. The amazing thing about a smartphone is that you have a gyroscope inside and you carry it around everywhere and you know how to create stories with it, so why not try to create a 360 media story? And so we're going to try to help you do that with our app.

At what point are you?

We're here at Disrupt because we want to do an angel raise; we're looking to raise some money to help us get through the next six months as we finish our product development. We plan to be in beta by June or July so that other people can download the app and give us feedback on what they want to see that we haven't developed yet.

Cloudwear

Evan Tann
CEO

What is your product?

In Cloudwear, we're building cyber-security software that stops overseas hacks today. So we can identify when hacks are coming in from Russia, China, North Korea, Syria, and lock down American infrastructure from those attacks.

How does it work?

Here's an example: If we've allowed access to the entire United States and have a recovery ops engineer out in the Atlantic right now trying to recover a rocket, we're going to allow access for a specific time limitation. Now he's actually able to access this system for the next five days from the Atlantic. When he comes back to the U.S., he'll have full access again.

At what point are you?

We've raised money, we're going live with some of the world's largest technology and healthcare companies, and we are opening it up to public access in the next few months.

CrowdFlik

Chris Hamer
CEO and founder

What is your product?

CrowdFlik is a mobile video app and platform that synchronizes multiple smartphone video streams that people capture at events.

How does it work?

At today's events, everybody is capturing video from smartphones. If they use the CrowdFlik app, the app shares a copy to our CrowdFlik platform synchronized with the others from that event, and it enables you to very easily create and share edits from that shared content.

Our business model is all around events where the brands are sponsoring incredible content environments but losing all the video that's captured on smartphones. CrowdFlik allows brands to use that content and share with their fans -- including fans well beyond those who are able to attend the events. Also, if you're a fan, it gives you a place to come in and experience the content for events that you've missed.

At what point are you?

CrowdFlik was incorporated in December 2012. The iOS and Android apps were launched in beta in the fall of 2013.

The branded content player page that we launched at TechCrunch Disrupt completes the end-to-end platform and experience for Phase 1 of the CrowdFlik build. I still consider it to be in beta -- however, we are in discussions with brands and event sponsors who will utilize CrowdFlik to capture, create, curate and share quality content from the events they sponsor and produce. Our model is that we split the ad revenue generated from the impressions on the branded watch pages.

Apptrify by MobileE2E

Nick Webb
Vice president of product marketing

What is your product?

We make SaaS software for companies to allow their employees to collaborate wherever they are.

How does it work?

You have many backend systems. You have things like Salesforce or Oracle, and you use all that information on databases. What we do is allow you to create mobile applications that run on your smartphone to give you access to that information in the way you need to do your job.

[One example we have is] a property manager. They'll go out and look at their properties every day. If they find a problem, they need to get someone out to solve the problem. Let's say you're in Union Square, you're in the South Corridor, you have a plumbing problem, it's pouring water everywhere, so it's a high priority problem. [You check off the appropriate items on the list and] click Submit, it sends that information off and gets a janitor out to do something with it.

You can also do workflows so you can have one or two approvers. The apps can be time boxed, so if you have temporary employees, even though they still have the application loaded they won't have the app that can give away company information. You can geo-fence as well, so if [employees] go outside a certain area, the application disappears.

At what point are you?

We are available now; if you go to the website, you can pick up a free trial.

Criptext

Mayer Mizrachi
CEO

What is your product?

We started out as a secure messaging company for enterprise. Last year, we launched the Criptext secure messaging app. One of the things that people loved was how much control they had over other content. Not only was your content encrypted, but you could take it back at any point in time.

Enterprises loved this. And they said, we have a problem with emails; secure software for emails is very complicated. So we created the Criptext experience for your inbox.

How does it work?

It's a simple conduit that you install so it will work in your browser. Sending a secure email has never been simpler. You enable Criptext and you can send a secure attachment if you want, you can make it be read-only, you can add files, and it gets encrypted and sent.

I can go to my email Criptext box, and right from here I can tell if my email has been opened or not. Now, [let's say] I actually sent it to the wrong person -- I'm just going to recall that. Even if it's been opened I can take it back, because my data is never out of my control.

At what point are you?

It's available now. You can download it for Safari, for Chrome, for Outlook and it works on Gmail and Outlook. It's got a free consumer model and an enterprise premium model.

Plug.Solar

Nick Williams
Co-founder and director of IT

What is your product?

This is our flagship product, the SunPort. It matches your energy with solar energy. Anywhere you are, you can be solar -- you can participate in the solar market. At a coffee shop, at home, at your office, anywhere.

How does it work?

Inside this box is a power meter and a Bluetooth chip. The power meter measures how much energy you're using and the Bluetooth chip communicates it to our servers through your phone. Once we have that information, we match it with new solar energy productions, so all your energy usage can be matched. So in that way, you can essentially be solar wherever you are, any time, any place.

At what point are you?

We're doing a crowd-funding campaign in a few weeks, and we need all the support we can get. This will help get more solar out there.

Ridemetric

Roy Schwartz
Founder

What is your product?

We offer a service for businesses that allows them to understand the driving behavior of their customers and of their employees.

How does it work?

Users will have access to an entire history of all of their trips, and if you select an individual trip, you'll be able to see the exact route you took to get to the destination, the time, and a set of scores for all the different parts of the trip. It gives a score for your acceleration, for your cornering, it gives you a fuel efficiency score.

It uses the phone's motion sensors, not GPS, so it knows when you're in the car and walking, and it knows to differentiate when you pick up the phone and are using it, and when you're accelerating.

This is a service that can be used by insurance companies, to understand which drivers they want to keep and which drivers they don't want to keep. It allows companies to understand their users' driving behavior. Ride-sharing companies like Uber can give the service to their drivers so their drivers can be much safer on the road and save money on gas. Fleets can use it. The applications are really endless.

At what point are you?

We have the systems ready; it's on Android right now, but we have an iPhone version in development. You can try out our app for end users, it's called Ridemetric Trip and it's on Google Play.

Ross

Andrew Arruda
Co-founder and CEO

What is your product?

We're Ross Intelligence and we're like Siri for the law; the brain we're using is IBM's Watson. So what we've done is train IBM's Watson how to understand the law.

How does it work?

A lawyer users the power of Ross and asks a question in natural language and receives an answer as well as suggested readings. The answer that they're receiving to their question is from a piece of case law or legislation, and it avoids them having to get thousands of results.

The old way of doing things is a keyword-based search, and it returns thousands of results, so junior associates like I once was would have to read through these cases -- I used to print them off because my eyes would burn -- and try to find what essentially is a needle in a haystack. By training Watson -- and we have our own proprietary legal algorithms -- we're able to get an answer to your question instantly.

At what point are you?

The stage we're in right now is private beta. We're partnered up with one of the world's largest law firms; we're going to be announcing that partnership quite soon. We're benchmarking Ross there and then scaling out so that every legal practitioner in the world would have access to Ross.

FileChat

Alberto Escarlate
CEO

What is your product?

We are a social layer on top of cloud storage [services] such as Google Drive and Dropbox. We have a conversation layer where people can interact and chat around files that are stored in their favorite clouds.

How does it work?

[Using the app], you can browse through the files and if you see a document you want, you can just click on it and preview the file. If you want to edit the file, you can do it. Any type of file, you can preview.

[You can have] conversations about a folder, and if you want to have a conversation specifically about a document, you can open the file or click on the chat conversation, and see only the subjects specific to that file.

You can then hit a button and do a chat. Every user in this chat will get a notification saying that there's a new message about that file on their logged-in devices -- it can be the Web app or Android or iOS. You also can "like" files. If the group is involved in voting or giving feedback on files, you can sort the files and see which are on top.

There is search, so if you're searching for any word that's been involved in the conversation, it finds the moments where the word is used. If you click on it, it jumps straight to that portion in the timeline and you can see what happened.

At what point are you?

[We launched] May 5th globally. It's been free for private beta for a month and is finally seeing the light of day, and we're very excited to have all users taking advantage of our product. The product is totally free for the time being -- we'll introduce a few tiers where people can get more features.

Dittach

David Prince
CMO

What is your product?

What we've created is a mobile platform to enable you to access all your email attachments in one stream.

How does it work?

If you get a lot of attachments, chances are it's going to be very hard to go back and access them. You're going to search, you're going to flip, you're going to type in someone's name. [Then] you're going to have to first open the document to see if it's actually there. Here, you can just view it before you even have to open it.

[With Dittach, it's easy to find your file. Then you] can click "View email" and it will throw you back to the original email. Or you can click "Options" and you can print it, download it, share it on social media, forward it to a friend, and more importantly, have it for you at the touch of a finger.

This works for any email provider. You log in with your email account.

At what point are you?

We're two weeks away from launching our beta and about a month away from our hard launch. We're starting with iOS and about 2-3 weeks after that, we'll launch our Android version.

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