Highlights of TechCrunch Disrupt NYC 2017

This week (May 15 – 17, 2017) I went to TechCrunch Disrupt NYC and I was fortunate to get a press pass to attend & cover the three-day event.  This post is about the highlights of Disrupt which includes lots of pictures I took to document/photograph the event.

Distinguished Speakers & Panels

Disrupt started with Derek Jeter as one of the first panelists and he spoke about his work as one of the founding members and publishers at The Player’s Tribune and as a player. His work ethic is something that most startup founders and entrepreneurs should mirror.

Jeter was relentless in his desire to earn his way to the top and he put in loads of work every single day to make that happen. The day before (May 14th), his number (2) was retired at Yankee Stadium. His work ethic is to thank for that.

Derek Jeter Player's Tribune


Steve Case (AOL Co-Founder) from Revolution Ventures spoke. He is trying to level the playing field more for venture capital investment in areas that are less advantaged and have traditionally had less access to capital.

Steve Case (AOL & Revolution Ventures)


Also speaking via interviews and speaker panels were other prestigious venture capitalists and entrepreneurs from companies such as RRE Ventures, Canaan Partners, FirstMark Capital, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Ford, and Amazon.

Founder Spotlights

I enjoyed the founder spotlights. It was great learning about startups’ successes, failures, obstacles, and how they overcame their obstacles.

Irving Fain (Bowery Farming) grows fresh produce on an NYC rooftop and runs a successful business off of it. Some of his tips for other entrepreneurs were:
– “Be prepared for the unexpected shit that comes up”
– “It always takes longer than you think”
– “Manage your expectations”

Irving Fain TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

Irving Fain TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017


This one guy, Mike Allen, works 365 days a year and wakes up between 2 and 3 am every day to start work. What’s crazier is that he doesn’t use an alarm clock! He created a news website that just covers the “need to know” information about important news, called Axios. Formerly, he was a White House Correspondent for Politico.

Liz Wessel, Founder of Way Up, talked about her successes and failures (mostly successes) with her business. Way Up helps recent college grads find jobs and internships.

Her advice: “Do what you’re passionate about and have fun doing it.”

Liz Wessel, Founder of WayUp

Liz Wessel, Founder of WayUp

The Startup Alley

Going through the Startup Alley, I got to meet and network with tons of startups who are making big impacts in their respective industries. Many of the exhibitors there were still quite new and some were already making millions each year. Lots were in between.

Additionally, many love what I’m doing with StartupDevKit and are eager to get on board as partners and customers! I’m just as eager to work with them.  Plus, I ran into some friends that I met from past events and even from Twitter! Small world.

There’s no way I can tell you about every startup I met, but I’ll share a small handful of stories about them.


I met a super cool team that works at a tech crowdsourcing website for companies that need programming services called topcoder.

They have a highly talented development community that competes for micro-jobs for programming objects or tasks, and then the community rates who does the best job. They have 1 million+ developers, designers, and data scientists.

Topcoder is great for startups that want professional-level work done and are willing to pay for high quality.

Some of the team from topcoder

Some of the team from topcoder.


One company I met, Lately, created this ridiculously awesome marketing suite for social media marketing that makes marketers’ lives much easier. They do this by combining a series of tools you’d find from other services.

You can schedule, plan, set goals, generate and publish content, see & interact with your social media promoters, store marketing files & images, assign account privileges to your employees, and more. It’s pretty much an all-in-one suite. Sweet, isn’t it? 😉 It’s a social media marketer’s dream.

lately techcrunch disrupt nyc

Lately at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC


Another startup I met, Collider, makes 3D molds of objects at a fraction of the cost and time with a special unit they’ve invented.

Revolutionary and phenomenal for physical product design and development. Collider also competed in the Startup Battlefield, which I’ll mention in the next section.


I met the founder of a great company called CHRGR. They create on-demand pre-charged ultra light-weight mobile batteries at your favorite locations. Let’s say you’re in a bar or a restaurant and need to charge your smartphone. If that local has it, then you’re in luck.

They’re free for customers at the locations, get to keep them, and they’re paid for by sponsors that advertise their company branding printed on the batteries. What’s not to love about free batteries?

John Mullen, CEO and Co-Founder of CHRGR

John Mullen, CEO and Co-Founder of CHRGR

Taiwan Startup Stadium

The Taiwan Startup Stadium sponsored and had at least ten startups exhibiting at the Startup Alley. They had so many cool startups.


My favorite from Taiwan was this small portable deep-tissue muscle massager, kind of like what you’d see at a physical therapist’s office, but way better and way smaller (this comes from personal experience, trust me). It’s called U-Gym.

Great for startup founders that sit in a chair hunching over their computers all day or people who diligently work out all the time.  Check it out.

I could go on and on. There were so many other great companies.

The Startup Battlefield

Watching startups pitch in the “Startup Battlefield” was also pretty cool. The Startup Battlefield is a competition to win $50,000 where each competing startup pitches their product/service and does a Q&A on stage with venture capitalists.  And, all of the startups pitching nailed it!

Collider pitching in the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield

Collider pitching in the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield

But, only one startup was the winner of $50,000.  The winner was a wild card (the wild-card battlefield presenter was chosen by attendees at the event) and they’re called RecordGram.

RecordGram is an awesome music production and distribution app that changes the game for amateurs musicians and singers.  I can’t wait to try this app for myself.

RecordGram wins the $50,000 competition in the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield

RecordGram wins the $50,000 competition in the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield


MIXhalo Presentation & Musical Performances

The end of the event was capped off with a presentation by Michael Einziger, guitarist from Incubus, and Pharrell Williams the pop music star. They created a revolutionary music app called MIXhalo.

Basically, it’s an iPhone app that can connect to their custom technology via wifi at concerts and will stream the studio-quality music that the performing musicians hear from the monitors in their ears to your headphones. You supply your own headphones.  Coming from a musician (I’m a drummer and singer), I think this is pretty great.

Pharrell Williams and Michael Einziger talk about their new concert audio app called MIXhalo

Pharrell Williams and Michael Einziger talk about their new concert audio app called MIXhalo


Then, after the presentation, Incubus played two songs and then Pharrell Williams and Incubus played a song together, “Get Lucky,” which is one of Pharrell’s songs that he did with Daft Punk.

Incubus playing at TechCrunch Disrupt

Incubus playing at TechCrunch Disrupt

Incubus has been one of my favorite bands and coincidentally, this was the first time I saw them play. They were the icing on the cake.

Incubus and Pharrell Williams


It was a memorable three-day experience at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC and I look forward to attending more Disrupts in the future. The next Disrupt is in San Francisco.

I hope you enjoyed learning about some of the highlights of Disrupt NYC.

Carl Potak

About Carl Potak

Carl is the Founder and CEO of StartupDevKit, a membership-based online startup incubator and accelerator. He's built a huge startup incubator platform with hundreds of the best curated and original startup resources. They are used to help idea-stage creators to recently launched startups develop and grow easier, smarter, and faster.

Carl is also the author of the book Startup Survival Secrets (coming soon), which is about the top 20 reasons why startups fail, the root causes for each of those reasons, how to prevent them, and what to do instead.

Being that 99% of startup accelerator applicants don’t get accepted and 90% of startups fail, both the platform and the book are here to help the worldwide startup community thrive. Carl has built the entirety of the StartupDevKit website and the Incubator Platform on his own.

Carl is a jack of all trades when it comes to startups and marketing (with exceptions to a few types). He's built StartupDevKit almost entirely on his own -- setting up the membership platform, designing the site and creating graphics, writing all of the site's content, writing over 30 long-form articles, curating hundreds of startup resources in 17+ verticals and about 100 subcategories, curating lists, doing the marketing, customer development, all of the back-end stuff -- you name it.

Carl is a serial founder and has been building and growing startups since 2007. He’s been a founder, marketing and startup consultant, marketing director, WordPress website creator, a technical IT recruiter for an intrapreneurial recruiting startup, and has dabbled in technical support as well.

Carl earned a certification in Inbound Marketing from HubSpot Academy, earned a certification in Google Analytics from Google, and earned a Bachelor's Degree from Binghamton University (SUNY) in Political Science. As a young adult, Carl achieved Eagle Scout rank in the BSA and led a top-ranked Counter-Strike team throughout college called Performance, until he began his last year of his college started in 2007 and started his first startup, EduDating.

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