TechCrunch Let’s Meet – event review
This July, TechCrunch took its show on the road with a series of meet-ups for start-up founders in major Polish cities. The meetings took place in Gdynia on July 28, in Warsaw on July 29 and in Krakow on July 30. We attended the Krakow event to listen to advice from innovation catalyst Ralph Talmont, Piotr Wilam of Innovation Nest and John Biggs of TechCrunch, as well as to hear pitches from seven potential start-ups
The TechCrunch Let’s Meet series of meetings is organized by tech blog TechCrunch as well as local partners, and gives local start-up founders a forum to present their ideas in front of seasoned entrepreneurs, tech journalists and investors, and to receive valuable feedback. In addition, the winner of each local pitch-off gets a chance to present their start-up at TechCrunch Disrupt, a major start-up conference that takes place in San Francisco and London each year. Its Polish meetings featured three speakers: innovation catalyst Ralph Talmont, Piotr Wilam of Innovation Nest and John Biggs of TechCrunch. The Krakow edition also got to hear from a representative of Get Smarter, a start-up that connects teachers with students online.
The first TechCrunch meet-up took place in Warsaw in about 2008, and John explained how back then, people were approaching him with ideas to sell Polish tomatoes in Chicago. “People didn’t get it, then,” John explained, “They get it now.” The meeting began with short introductions by Ralph and John, and went straight into the pitches.
”2016 will be the year of virtual reality”
The first presentation was from Jakub from VoicePin – a Krakow-based service that allows you to use your own voice to authenticate your identity. This means that instead of using passwords or remembering secret codes or your mother’s maiden name, you can log into your regular services, such as banking or social accounts, by a voice password. Their voice biometrics technology is patented and they have developed an API for developers to easily implement.
The first question from the panel of judges was whether someone could pretend to be you with a recording of your voice. Jakub assured that their technology prevents this.
The next pitch was from QuakQuak, a UK-based video platform that provides quality entertainment that’s under 15 minutes. So far, they have had nearly 300,000 views per month. The QuakQuak mobile app allows viewers to watch scheduled streams as well as content provided by networks, record labels and independent filmmakers. Unlike YouTube, the content on QuakQuak is curated and short.
Marek Antoniuk from Riftcat, a virtual reality (VR) Facebook and web application designed to work with popular VR headsets, presented next. According to Marek, “2016 will be the year of virtual reality,” and their service plans to get in ahead of the game. Essentially, Riftcat is an app store for VR games, and already has plenty of games on the service. “We want to become like Steam for virtual reality,” Marek explained. Unlike Steam, however, the service will be open to many different headsets.
The next presenter was Mariusz from Curie.me, who wants to cure “the smoking of our generation” – sitting. Curie is a seat cushion that’s connected to an app that measures and coaches how you sit, encouraging you to stretch, exercise and take regular breaks – it’s like FitBit for your sitting habits. The idea comes from Mariusz himself, who at age 29 began experiencing back problems from the way and amount he was sitting. He’s hoping it will help other young people who spend most of their days sitting in front of a computer. Curie is already available to preorder from their website.
Unfortunately, the next presenters did not show up to present their tablet game for children, Board Craft. The app allows children to use their own environment, via their tablet’s camera, to create their own games. It encourages creativity and develops social skills through play with other children.
The next presenter was Anna from The Other Dude – an app that helps you remember who you’ve just met and share contact information quickly and easily – with just one tap. Their planned launch date is this October, and they want to make it free for users on various app stores. Anna is planning to test the app in different markets in order to see what users want before they launch.
The final presentation started in a very original way – with a robot that looks like a trash bin. The company, Husarion, are the creators of RoboCORE, a Kickstarter-funded robot core that allows anyone to build a robot in only a few days – just as the demonstrated robot showed. That means you can quickly build your own robot to help you in particular tasks, as a proof of concept for potential mass production – or to feed your dog while you’re away, for example. While the judges gave them a hard time for trying to sell the RoboCORE rather than the robot itself, in the end they came out with the second place prize. Which means…
And the winner is…
VoicePin! The voice authentication start-up showed the most potential according to the judges, and will receive a table at the upcoming TechCrunch Disrupt conference, while the second place winner will receive tickets to the conference.
After the judging and prizes were over, the attendees had a chance to meet the founders and network in a relaxed atmosphere over beer and snacks at Metaforma. Who knows how many new pitches for the next TechCrunch Let’s Meet will originate from this very meeting?
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