No doubt there will be a gaggle of reviews, reports, regurgitations and rehashing of what went on at Day 1. So, here are my personal musing, in no particular order, of what I felt at the conference, what I sensed and what I experienced. I figured all the smarter, nerdy heads will cover the conference at a cerebral level. This is a stream of consciousness – a gut data dump – as it were.
1) Before I get to the conference, Brian Morrissey of Brandweek tweets how the men’s room at the conference is jammed but the women’s room is “clear sailing”. I think – “that’s a change – usually it is the other way around.” But it certainly set the tone in my head.
2) The conference itself was conventionally unconventional as it was on the second floor of an office building. Lots of space and lots of nooks and crannies where startup and confabs gathered.
3) The uniform of the day… Jeans or jeans like object – an occasional pair of shorts popped up. T-shirts of various sizes and shapes. No business casual here – at least not much. Did I come to the right place or did I land in a college campus???
4) Large presentation room reminds me assembly at an all boys prep school.
5) Where have all the women gone!!!! I saw 8 startup companies present today and of all the 20 or so people – not a woman among the lot. Hmm….
6) Where have all the women gone who did not graduate yesterday go? Most women here are staffers, volunteers or support staff. Are they old enough to drink????
7) So much inspired thinking – so little market access. Most of the startups have hopes of selling to “big brands” but with little notion of how difficult it is for a brand to implement a niche idea – no matter how brilliant. After having worked on 40 ventures at Bell Labs New Ventures Group – I can spot winners a mile way and I can spot trouble even faster. The “motherly” side of me wants to warn these entrepreneurs. I want to say; “Don’t bet your whole business on selling to big brands – that is really really hard!” But I say nothing because this is their moment to shine and I don’t want to take away from their joy. The realities of life will crowd in on them soon enough.
8 ) All this technology is bottled up a without clear market access strategy. When I ask the startups how are you going to market – I get fuzzy; “oh we work with agencies” or “We want to sell to brands”. I even had one startup say to me that 95% of possible leads are not useful to him because they are too small. Uh – what happened to “walk before you can run”?
9) I can see how 4 or 5 of these technologies could be combined for some kick ass marketing programs – kinda like a huge tinker toy set for marketers. I think I will go build myself something from all these parts. Hmm – I feel like a system integrator all of a sudden. Is that right?
10) Is it me – or does this feel like high school again where the “popular, cool” people hang together and everyone else tries to connect with them? Well, this is no surprise since I think the medium age of the conference might be – uh – 23 (utterly non scientific SWAG).
So ended DAY 1 of TechCrunch Disrupt Conference. I will tell you one for sure. I am not breaking out my jeans – I like dressing like an adult.