6 Interesting Companies I Met at TechCrunch Disrupt

Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning of this week I trekked up to Pier 94 (54th and 12th) for TechCrunch Disrupt.  This was my 4th Disrupt (3 in NYC and 1 in San Francisco), so I appreciate their ability to curate an awesome event with innovative companies in multiple industries.  As such, I decided to write a quick post giving props to a few interesting companies I spoke with personally.

Hoppit:  Funny back story on this that’s eerily ironic.  Last Saturday I went from NYC>Philadelphia>NYC in less than a 12 hour period with my cousin and his very pregnant wife.  On the drive back, my cousin was telling me how he wished there was a restaurant site that gave recommendations based on ambiance.  Little did I know that Hoppit was one of the first companies I would discover at the conference.  Essentially, the site allows users to identify where to go based on their “Vibe.”  See below screenshot of the simple UI to filter the restaurants in a city near you.


GuidePal:  Although having guides for only 80 cities, GuidePal (available on iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, and Android) is a great tool to tap into particularly for the business travel who may only have room for a few meals and time to check out a show or shop for a little (assuming you trust their curated recommendations).  I look forward to checking out their next iteration, which will allow people to download additional guides (assuming for $1 or so each) within cities that are catered towards their interests (food, music, art, fashion, outdoors, etc).


ZBoard:  The obvious analogy for this product is the one that founders Geoff and Ben won’t mention unless you do:  ZBoard is the action sports version of the segway at a quarter of the cost.  Essentially, leaning forward starts the battery to propel forward up to 17 MPH and when you want to stop, you leave backward.  Very simple.  Very fun.  However, not for some of the more hardcore skateboarding purist who might cringe at this concept.


Matchbook:  The minute I walked into the conference, I saw an unlikely familiar face.  My friend Sabrina from The Jam Stand was there helping out her boyfriend’s close friend who helped start Matchbook.  Essentially, Matchbook allows iPhone users to identify and keep track of all the interesting places that they want to go to.  I constantly keep creating “Notes” on my iPhone that get lost or deleted or forgotten, so this is an easy and free solution to organize all them on a map.  For example, if I were to go to the West Village, I could check which restaurants I added to Matchbook in the area and know exactly where to go for something new and interesting that I already had interest in.


Bedphones:  Have you ever been a plane, needed headphones to block out the noise of baby behind you, but couldn’t go to sleep because of how uncomfortable the headphones were?  Bedphones have stepped in to create the world’s thinnest headphones (at least that’s what founder Eric Dubs told me) that’s also extremely comfortable. Via Twitter, I jokingly suggested that their tagline should be:  sleep never sounded so good.  We’ll see if they take my advice…


Churchkey Can Co.:  I know what you’re thinking…what the hell is a beer company doing at a tech conference?  Then you remember that technology has and always will live in and outside of the digital world and that industry disruption doesn’t always have to be as complex as a hologram of a dead rapper.  In a lot of ways, Churchkey is implementing reverse-technology by going back to the flat top beer cans that dominated the industry from roughly 1935-1965.  Speaking with co-founder Justin Hawkins after his panel, I understood and appreciated his vision for the company.  Churchkey is currently only available in Seattle and Portland (not surprisingly), but when it hits bodegas in NYC in late Summer/early Fall, I’ll probably be one of the first try it.  The coolest part, it comes with an old school churchkey, which is actually the sharply-edged metal device that opens the cans.

There were tons of other awesome companies there, so check out of the full list here and try to go to the next Disrupt in NYC, San Francisco, or Beijing.



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