10 hopeful startups strut their stuff at TechCrunch Disrupt

We talked to entrepreneurs who were at Disrupt NY 2016 to introduce their emerging companies and technologies.

disrupt floor2
Barbara Krasnoff

New businesses try for success

TechCrunch Disrupt is a city-by-city gathering of technology startups looking for seed money, partnerships and/or media attention; investors looking for possible investments; techies looking for jobs; and tech fans looking for the Next Big Thing.

Last week, Disrupt took over the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (where normally passengers wait to embark on the huge cruise ships that dock there) for Disrupt NY 2016. While the presentations and competitions took place onstage, attendees could also wander Startup Alley, where new and innovative tech entrepreneurs showed their wares. We talked to some of the startups that came to see and be seen, asking them about their companies and products, where they were from and where they hoped to be going, and why they had come to Brooklyn.

What follows are the stories -- in the reps' own words -- of 10 enterprise-related tech startups that that were there on Tuesday, May 9th. Who knows? You may be working with one or more of these in the near future.

disrupt sharework
Barbara Krasnoff


Interviewed: Joseph Ronnquist, CEO, Sharework.io

What is your product and/or company about?

We are a Swedish startup based in Stockholm. This is kind of a spinoff from our previous company called MediaFloPro; it's a digital asset management system that serves really big organizations in Sweden. We decided to make this product because we have some features in our digital asset management system that are fitted for all kinds of businesses, not just large businesses.

Sharework is about intelligent sharing of document and media files. We have been working a lot with images, films and design files. We also have experience with the stock image industry, and we have been building one of Sweden's leading image agencies.

You can use [Sharework.io] with your cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox and Box. For example, if I'm working with sales and I'm sending you an offer with white papers and other documents, I would make the offer in a PDF. But instead of sending it in an email or Dropbox or Google Drive link, I drag and drop it into Sharework to my app or desktop -- it's cloud-based software -- and then I send you a link.

When you open the link, it's not like a Dropbox link, not boring -- you can see a logo, a picture, and you can communicate directly. You don't have to download the PDF, you can scroll it.

[As the sender], I get feedback: Did you really open it, did you really read the entire thing? So I get feedback as to what's happening. It's more personal. If I want, I can add an approval, so you can accept the offer or decline.

What is your current status?

We're in the middle of building the service. We are launching in November, we hope, at the Slush conference, the biggest Finnish startup conference. We are building the product and promoting it.

What would you like to accomplish at Disrupt?

To introduce the product, to get used to speaking and pitching, to get some contacts made with investors. This is where we need to be. There have been lots of startups that have been really successful working both in Stockholm and in New York or San Francisco.

disrupt snapsolv
Barbara Krasnoff


Interviewed: Prakash Kakumanu, Founder and CEO, SnapSolv

What is your product and/or company about?

SnapSolv is a business-to-customer communications platform using mobile messaging. It helps businesses engage with their customers for support and for marketing as well.

The idea was to help consumers find customer support easily. We all are familiar with calling a business for support, calling a phone number or emailing companies. But that leads to long wait times on the phone calls or emails going to nowhere. So with all these messaging apps in place, I thought: Why can't consumers find support by messaging these businesses? One thing led to another, and here we are.

We're targeting small- to medium-sized businesses, especially in the retail segment, and the back office operations for retailing -- distributors, suppliers, vendors -- and also managed service businesses, such as call centers, where they manage support for other businesses.

There's a lot of value proposition for businesses, because in typical phone call-based support they can only handle one customer at a time, whereas with messaging they can handle more than one. They can handle five, six, up to ten customers at the same time, and that can benefit them tremendously with cost savings and efficiency. They'll have the customer profile before them, they have all the notes before them and all the past history of the communications, and so when they're answering customers, their response is very personalized and very effective.

What is your current status?

We are launching today [May 9th]. We've been building the product for the last 14 months.

What would you like to accomplish at Disrupt?

This is our platform for the launch, talking to people, getting their feedback, getting more ideas on what works, what doesn't work, and learning from the whole experience.

disrupt uptimerobot
Barbara Krasnoff

Uptime Robot

Interviewed: Umut Muhaddisoglu, Founder/Manager, Uptime Robot

What is your product and/or company about?

Uptime Robot is an uptime monitoring service which you can add to your website or servers without installing anything to these websites and servers. Uptime Robot will be running in the background and it will notify you whether those websites and servers are working or not, and let you know via email, SMS, Slack, HipChat, etc. It will also let you know when they are working again.

Besides letting users know whether websites are working or not, Uptime Robot also measures how fast they are working, so you can simply log into UptimeRobot.com and check how fast these websites and servers are working or not, which is important for many as well.

How do you plan to monetize?

We have a huge free plan which lets you monitor 50 websites or services, and they can be checked every five minutes. If you have a much more critical website, say an e-commerce website where you need to know every single downtime, you can upgrade to get every one-minute monitoring.

What is your current status?

We are up and running. We have 300,000 users and we are monitoring more than 1.5 million websites.

What would you like to accomplish at Disrupt?

We are looking for strategic partners that we can incorporate with, products that will want to incorporate our time monitoring with their own products, and maybe products and services that we can integrate into our products. We simply want to meet with tech people.

disrupt maphubs
Barbara Krasnoff


Interviewed: Leo Bottrill, Founder & CEO, MapHubs

What is your product and/or company about?

MapHubs is a very easy way to make and share maps and use both your data and the data that exists on MapHubs to do so.

It's for people who don't know how to use mapping software, who don't know how to code or use Web design tools, but really like to use maps to explain issues that concern them.

We focus mostly on environmental issues, so we've been mostly building data on land-use issues in the Congo Basin, where there are many conflicts between groups who are building and developing mines, new infrastructure projects such as dams and roads that are intersecting with communities who use forests and other natural resources for their livelihoods. Tools like MapHubs make it much easier for groups to find data from different types of mining companies or from the governments to see where the conflict might lie between their resources and the plans of larger institutions.

Right now, MapHubs is completely free. All you do is come to our website and log in, and you create what's called a group. A group is where you store your layers. If you want to make data, it's very easy to draw points on a map and add some information about those points; and then also search the database and find out what data we have.

Then you create your own interactive map by just searching for layers, adding them, choosing the cartography, what style you want it to be -- no coding is required to do so.

How do you plan to monetize?

If you want to have a private data layer that you don't want to make public through the public repository on MapHubs, then you'd have pay us a monthly fee to keep your information private. This is very much modeled on the GitHub model of data sharing. Our real interest is having a critical mass of data on our platform, but then providing services to those who don't want to disclose everything they're doing, or maybe not immediately, so they pay for that privacy.

And also, we can do featured content; we can do branding for your maps as well, so we think we can make this profitable.

What would you like to accomplish at Disrupt?

We only launched six weeks ago, we had a beta version of MapHubs up, and wanted to ideally attract an investor who wanted to support our next phase of development, which is adding the pay features to the sites and improving the user experience so we can simplify the process of adding maps and sharing data information.

Also it's a useful opportunity to meet other people in the startup world who are starting their own companies and have experience in that. We've met many people today who have useful tips.

We look forward to working within the open data community with people who understand the power of making data available -- I think it definitely helps businesses like MapHubs get started. It will ultimately help make mapmaking and other startups much more affordable in the future if information's available.

disrupt nopassword
Barbara Krasnoff


Interviewed: Bam Azizi, CTO & Cofounder, WiActs

What is your product and/or company about?

NoPassword is a service that we provide for enterprises. Employees can go to NoPassword through any portal [the company] has. They put in their user name -- there's no password -- and they do the authentication on their smartphone by using fingerprinting or face recognition. Afterward they're logged in without a password, they have access to all the resources of the company, all the apps.

The IT admin sets it up once, and after that the employee just starts using that. The onboarding process is very simple, they just scan a QR code into their phone, and after that the account is associated with their phone and they can log in with their phone.

IT management can assign different apps and different resources for different groups, or they can assign based on a rule. If you are, for example, on the sales team, you have access to this app, and if you're not, you're on another team, you have access to another set of apps.

Deprovisioning is very important. Right now, most of the serious attacks happen after the person leaves the company, but the person still has access to the resources of the company. We integrate with the HR software: As soon as you cut the paycheck, you cut the access immediately and automatically, so the IT admin doesn't need to do anything.

Another great feature we have for enterprises: Based on recent research, 90% of cyberattacks are happening outside the company. Because we are using smartphones, we are getting the GPS locations of the employees, and we analyze that and use it to restrict access to the premises of the companies. We have the most precise geofencing in the world, because we're the only company using GPS location, not the IT location, which is not precise.

What is your current status?

We launched it at RSA two months ago. Right now, 150 companies are using this product in 30 different countries, and on average they have 10,000 employees, so this is the perfect product for healthcare, universities, financial institutions and those kinds of industries.

What would you like to accomplish at Disrupt?

Seeing other companies and showing our proprietary technology. Trying to accomplish word of mouth.

disrupt landit
Barbara Krasnoff


Interviewed: Alexis Stoller, Marketing, PR and user engagement, Landit

What is your product and/or company about?

Landit is the personalized playbook for women who are interested in making moves in their career and unlocking that moment of confusion, the crossroads that they may reach when they are trying to transition into something new, promote themselves or find a new way forward in their career.

We provide them with various resources and tools that will help them, for instance, to improve their personal brand and to define the individuals in their networks, whether they be mentors or sponsors, that can really help them to move forward; we also offer professional coaching with various specialties, and development of those materials you need to move forward, such as your resume, CV, bio, LinkedIn profile. Really, the perfection of all those pieces together can help a woman make her next step.

How do you plan to monetize?

The platform is completely free. We have a freemium model, so the coaching and the specific resume services and re-editing are for a fee, but all of the other core services are complementary.

What is your current status?

We launched on March 2nd. Our beta is live, and we have users joining us in great numbers every single day from various parts of the country and globally as well.

What would you like to accomplish at Disrupt?

Our goal today is to meet as many people as we can, to be inspired by the other wonderful representation that's here from companies and startups, to meet potential partners and to raise our brand awareness, let people know about who we are. We want more women to know who we are so we can help as many women as possible make their next move.

disrupt dispel
Barbara Krasnoff


Interviewed: Ethan Schmertzler, CEO, Dispel

What is your product and/or company about?

We are a digital privacy company. The technology itself allows companies to have secure and honest communications, and also effectively take their infrastructure offline, because what you can't find, you can't attack effectively.

The way we achieve that is through three fronts. The first one is that we establish a VPN connection from physical devices within your perimeter to segment them. What that helps to prevent is that if one device gets infected, that malware doesn't spread laterally throughout your network.

We route the traffic out into a temporarily created "ephemeral infrastructure." They are secure enclaves which are made in multiple different cloud providers and they're segmented into different sections, say, of your company, as the enterprise IT director sees fit. You can then deploy different kinds of infrastructure into these cloud providers for however long you want to use them.

So 15 minutes before you're supposed to transfer files, you can split a file transfer server into an enclave and send your files from one party to the other. It's an encrypted anonymous communication because nobody can predict where it was, it's a random cloud provider, and then we destroy this infrastructure.

The nice thing about that is if it's, say, a virtual desktop interface, any malware that comes in while you're browsing actually gets caught at this level and doesn't carry on to the inside of your perimeter. So it's effectively being intercepted at the border in these ephemeral networks.

It also has the added advantage that, because these are random cloud providers and things are always being turned over, it actually makes this anonymous. So someone can't predict who you are or where you are or what you're doing. So for companies that are doing high-value transactions or doing exploratory work, any kind of action where the very fact that parties are communicating with one another is important information, we solve that problem for them.

The only other really salient point is ease of use. A security system that requires any additional work or creates any additional friction for people is one of the things they won't adopt. So one of the things that was very important to us was, while the system is incredibly complicated in terms of its sophistication, we wanted to make it very seamless so it's easy to use.

What is your current status?

We've been around for about 2½ years; we launched on December 9th. There are 20 employees now and we're cash-flow positive, so we have several million dollars of recurring annual revenue. So we're in a really exciting space and we've seen really good uptick, so it's really very exciting.

What would you like to accomplish at Disrupt?

One of the things that's really important to us is both to get out and talk to people and hear what their experiences are. There are a lot of companies here, and each in its own right has a security platform of some level. So it's learning how they think about themselves, how they think about the market. It's partly learning from other people, seeing what we can bring to the market, and also to having general exposure.

disrupt cleargov
Barbara Krasnoff


Interviewed: Chris Bullock, CEO and Founder, ClearGov
Also pictured: Audrey Hall, Vice President, Business Development

What is your product and/or company about?

ClearGov is a website that helps taxpayers better understand where their tax dollars are going and how efficiently their local governments are spending their tax dollars. We help local government officials better communicate their financial performance to citizens in an effort to drive trust through transparency.

We also equip local governments with data intelligence and benchmarking analytics to make more informed and data-driven decisions on their own budget.

We source our data from a number of different data sources, but generally it's from the state department of revenue, the state controller. Then we combine that with data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we gather data from the department of education, and mash it all up together to create these really easy to understand infographics.

We at ClearGov believe that most local government officials are doing a great job managing their taxpayers' dollars efficiently. What they're not doing a good job of is actually telling that story. And people don't trust what they don't understand. So there's a lot of distrust in government because people have access to the data but they can't really understand it.

So we believe it's one thing to be transparent, but you really need to add the story and the context around it to truly be transparent. And that's what ClearGov is about.

How do you plan to monetize?

ClearGov makes money when the municipalities claim their page and then upgrade their page with more recent and more detailed granular financial information to allow citizens to drill into the information. They also are able to add commentary to the figures to better explain the story behind the numbers, and then we also enable them to add contextual metrics like demographics and education district metrics to help show what's driving those expenses, to better tell the full picture. Just being transparent is one thing, but clearly explaining the context behind those numbers is a whole new level of transparency.

What is your current status?

We launched the beta site in June of last year, and we officially launched our public product in December of last year. We've had nearly 50 municipalities claim their page and get involved with the platform.

We started with California, Massachusetts and New York, but we're getting ready to launch 15 states in the very near future.

What would you like to accomplish at Disrupt?

We actually won TechCrunch Boston, so we got some recognition there, and then we won this booth here today. We're just looking to spread the word on two fronts. One is to speak with folks from the media and get some press coverage. Two is that we're in the midst of a seed round, so we're raising some financing and looking for seed investors.

disrupt gitzero
Barbara Krasnoff


Interviewed: Paul Lung, CTO, OverNest

What is your product and/or company about?

What we do is searchable encryption. This is a brand new thing -- nobody else is doing it. Our first product is Gitzero.

Essentially, it is completely encrypted GitHub. We encrypt all your source code before it ever leaves your computer, and you're the only one who can access that source code. Even if someone broke into our servers, there is nothing they can do.

We have a client that sits on your computer and before anything is sent to us, the client encrypts the data. When we receive the data, it is completely encrypted. Not only that, when you want to search for something, you also send some data to us, that data is also encrypted. So we don't know what you're searching for, and we don't know if you've found anything, we don't know what results actually came back to you. You're the only one who knows.

Even if the FBI comes to us like they came to Apple and ask us for your stuff, we have to say, "Sorry." Because it's technically impossible for us to give them your property.

How do you plan to monetize?

We have a pricing plan. It's on our website, and essentially we have individual plans and team plans.

What is your current status?

We are available [today May 9th].

What would you like to accomplish at Disrupt?

We obviously like the exposure. This is one of those technologies that are way ahead of the curve, and as with anything that's way ahead of the curve, people are afraid to use it.

This is not another antivirus, where people understand what it is. So the most important thing for us is to get people to know that there is this technology and we need people to start using it. And once it becomes an industry standard, it will sell itself, we believe.

Keep an eye on us for the next few years, because we will come out of nowhere and we will take the world by storm.

disrupt predict
Barbara Krasnoff


Interviewed: Sylvan Rath, Founder and CEO, Predict.io

What is your product and/or company about?

We are based out of Berlin, Germany. Our SDK for iOS, Android and [Adobe] PhoneGap reads the sensors that are in any modern smartphone in real time, and detects what the user is doing right now. For example, it can tell if you arrived in or left a specific place without using the GPS all the time, so that you save battery.

Our SDK understands what mode of transport somebody is using and whether he is arriving or departing; you can then use that to make your user experience better. We use the gyroscope, the accelerometer, the barometer, the magnetoscope, the GPS, the GSM, all those different sensors. We switch them on and off as we need them.

The GPS is switched off most of the time so we can conserve the battery. If you take GPS full on, you might lose 10% or 15% percent of the battery in one hour. It's very draining. We use one to one-half percent for a full day.

Something that is always asked about is data privacy. We are a German company, so we take data privacy very, very seriously by law. Sensor information that we read never leaves the device, but is computed on the device directly. So we never get raw sensor information about your customers, we never get any personally identifiable information, but we just process the data on the device itself. Only the event would be collected for our customers' usage.

How do you plan to monetize?

We license our technology, so any app developers can sign up on our website and start using it, and the first 50,000 devices are completely free, so they don't have to worry about getting started. Then we have a licensing model that's a flat fee per device after that. So you don't have to worry about big subscription contracts or maintenance contracts; it's just a one-off fee that you pay us.

What is your current status?

We just launched our developer portal here at TechCrunch Disrupt today.

What would you like to accomplish at Disrupt?

Getting in contact with developers over here and getting coverage in the U.S. because all of our customers are currently in Europe.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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