Some 1,500 investors, entrepreneurs and startups will go head to head at Old Billingsgate Market today and tomorrow as one of Silicon Valley’s biggest annual tech conferences lands in London for the first time.
Techcrunch Disrupt promises to focus the world’s tech investment community on the capital’s top startups over the next two days, while also giving hundreds of hopefuls the chance to prove their business idea has the potential to be the next big thing.
At the centre of Disrupt is the Battlefield, where 16 startups, selected from over 600 applicants, pitch to a panel of judges and investors – including Lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman, Techstars managing director Jon Bradford and DFJ Esprit chief executive Simon Cook – for the chance to win a £30,000 prize fund.
According to Techcrunch editor-at-large Mike Butcher, the decision to bring Disrupt to London is a ringing endorsement of the technology being developed by startup communities in the city, as well as the growing amounts of capital rushing in to support new ventures here.
“This is very much London’s time. Over the last few years the whole of the technology sector in Europe has lifted, and in London there’s been a big boom in new technology companies floating or raising large amounts of money,” Butcher told City A.M. “As big as anyone else gets – like the Berlin startup scene for instance – London just continues to get bigger. Its legal and regulatory environment, its funding environment and its exit environment for technology companies are all just improving in leaps and bounds.”
Over the weekend, 89 teams of programmers took part in a 24-hour hackathon to build a new product or startup, marking the start of Disrupt. The team behind Infected Flight, a website that models the spread of diseases by analysing flight path data to map patterns, took home a £3,000 prize.
Speaking at Disrupt over the next two days are a host of Europe’s top investors including Index Ventures partner Saul Klein (invested in LoveFilm and Tweetdeck), Balderton Capital partner Daniel Waterhouse (who invested in Hailo and YPlan), and Passion Capital partner Eileen Burbidge (who invested in Coinfloor).
As well as speaking, many of the investors will be on the lookout for funding opportunities, something Butcher says is a key part of the event: “Multiple fundings have happened as a result of interactions [at Disrupt]. We know for a fact that the majority of startups that are picked for the Battlefield often have terms sheets given to them by the end of the conference,” he added.
CRUNCH TIME: THE STARS TO LOOK OUT FOR AT DISRUPT
MICHAEL ACTON SMITH
The chief executive of Mind Candy, creator of Moshi Monsters, will be speaking tomorrow at 10.05am to tell the story of how he founded Mind Candy in London.
Kroes is EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda. She has fought for the abolition of mobile roaming charges and increasing competition.
The chief executive of US internet and media giant AOL will be speaking at 2pm in a so-called fireside chat with Techcrunch journalists.
Coming from the original team at Skype, Klein founded LoveFilm and is now partner at Index Ventures. He will speak tomorrow at 9.10am.
Burbidge is a partner at Passion Capital which has invested in a number of London startups including the Bitcoin exchange Coinfloor and Digital Shadows.
Cook is chief executive of DFJ Esprit and has been involved in the European venture capital space since 1995, with a portfolio that includes LoveFilm and Graze.com.