TechCrunch’s flagship tech conference — Disrupt San Francisco 2019 — takes place on October 2-4. Disrupt is the OG of tech startup conferences, and it rolls old school in keeping with the feisty, do-what-it-takes spirit of Silicon Valley. Disrupt is the intersection of now and future tech. It’s where startuppers of every stripe gather to learn, share expertise and make connections to transform their business.
If you haven’t been to Disrupt, why not? The benefits are real, and they can change the trajectory of your business. Of course, we’re a tad biased. But your discerning startup peers aren’t. We asked Jana Rosenfelder, co-founder and COO of Actijoy — a TC Top Pick at Disrupt San Francisco 2018 — to share her TechCrunch Disrupt experience.
Based in the Czech Republic and founded in 2016 by Jana Rosenfelder and Robert Hasek, Actijoy aims to help dog owners keep tabs on the health of their canine companions.
The system consists of three connected devices. An activity tracker (think FitBit for dogs) records activity, intensity levels and sleep quality. Smart Wi-Fi bowls look like standard pet dishes, but they contain scales that measure a dog’s food and water consumption in real-time. The third component — an app — logs the data from the tracker and the smart bowls and reports any abnormalities.
Rosenfelder and Hasek attended both Disrupt San Francisco and Disrupt New York in 2017. Actijoy exhibited in one of Startup Alley’s many country pavilions as part of a contingent sponsored by Czech Invest — a governmental agency that supports startups by defraying conference costs.
Their positive experiences made the decision to go to Disrupt San Francisco 2018 an easy one. For their third Disrupt, Actijoy applied to be a TC Top Pick, which involves a highly competitive curation process. Roughly 40 exceptional startups — including Actijoy — won the coveted designation.
In addition to exhibiting for free in Startup Alley, TC Top Picks spend the entire Disrupt conference on the receiving end of intense investor interest and media exposure — including a live video interview with a TechCrunch editor on the Showcase Stage in Startup Alley.
“It was a real door-opener because the media paid so much attention,” said Rosenfelder. “Being a TC Top Pick made a big impression with people who visited our booth. It gave us more credibility, and everyone listened to us.”
Exhibiting in Startup Alley is networking on steroids and a phenomenal opportunity to make those critical connections. Rosenfelder noted that most startups on the expo floor focus on software or mobile apps. Exhibiting a hardware product helped Actijoy stand out and drew a lot of traffic to its table.
“Startup Alley was a great experience because we talked to people non-stop and collected so many potential customer contacts,” said Rosenfelder.
Networking happens everywhere at Disrupt, and Rosenfelder made the most of that opportunity by using CrunchMatch — the free business-matching service that investors and founders with similar funding interests use to vet, meet and greet at Disrupt.
“CrunchMatch is a great tool. The application made it simple to organize a meeting. We arranged about 10 meetings — mainly with investors and potential partners.”
Rosenfelder scored one of her most valuable connections while attending Female Founder Office Hours, an “ask-me-anything” series of meetings sponsored by All Raise VC and founder mentors (be sure to apply to the All Raise AMA this year).
Rosenfelder had been trying to network to a specific contact for more than a year. Within five minutes of talking with an All Raise mentor, the woman offered to make the introduction.
Team Actijoy has traveled from the Czech Republic to the United States for three different Disrupt events, and they hope to compete in the Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF 2019.
“TechCrunch Disrupt is one of the best startup conferences, and it’s worth the money. The media exposure is much better than at other events. It’s a great place for startups to network for leads, investors, industry contacts and partnerships.”
Disrupt San Francisco 2019 takes place on October 2-4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Come see for yourself what Disrupt can do for your business. Get your early bird tickets to the show today.