I’m unimpressed so far at this year’s startups launching at TechCrunch Disrupt. It’s not just this year though, it’s been all years. It’s not TechCrunch’s fault, it’s mine. I know why I’m unimpressed — I’m sitting here watching the launch announcements and waiting to see the next Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, etc.
But that’s not going to happen — because it hasn’t happened for a Consumer Internet startup before. Yes, some good companies have come from these events — mostly enterprise, but most Consumer Internet startups don’t go anywhere after the conference. That’s the reality though for a startup trying to become a real business — 95%+ will die on the vine. Thus, 9.5 out of 10 of these startups (despite being filtered from 1,000 submissions) will be deadpooled.
So I was curious, have there been any big “wins” out of these TechCrunch startup events in the past? At first glance of the companies that have presented between 2007-2011, the names that I immediately think of as successful are:
- TC40 2007 – Mint.com (Intuit acquired), TripIt (acquired), WooMe (TC40, despite the controversy), Powerset (Microsoft acquired), DocStoc, PubMatic, Xobni
- TC50 2008 – Yammer, Dropbox
- TC50 2009 – ODesk, Clicker (CBS acquired)
- TCDisrupt 2010 SF – Qwiki (Facebook founder Eduardo invested)
- TCDisrupt 2010 NYC – Soluto (who knows, maybe they will be; product/solution seems awesome)
- (Here are DEMO’s success stories, looks similar to TechCrunch’s conferences)
Thus, TC40 2007 seems the most successful, but those startups have also had more time to prove their business, iterate, and innovate. There are some good companies that launched and many years to go until we see how big they really become, but I’d say the biggest out of all of those will end up being ODesk, with Mint.com, Yammer, and Dropbox being the other big successes.
I think the big problem is that there’s way too many consumer startups launching here and they think they can break from a conference like this. The truth is, they won’t. There are tons of consumer startups and only a handful gain critical mass, so it’s very unfair of me to have expectations of seeing the next Twitter launch here. The next Twitter will launch organically, as we have historically seen — not on a stage.
A consumer startup that has nailed the product/market fit can not be kept under wraps for launching at a conference like this. If you are awesome, likely it’ll leak out somehow if you have some private beta users — you simply can’t stop someone that is loving your service from exploding with sheer passion to everyone they can tell.
These startups are brand new and most need to get more feedback and iterate further to nail their product/market fit. On the other hand, some of these startups never had a problem they were solving — thus, they never stood a chance.