How You Can Join the Ranks of TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield

By Rudi Davis 24 October, 2016

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This year’s Techcrunch’s Disrupt SF hosted 25 startups, fighting tooth and nail for victory in its Startup Battlefield. Competition was fierce. Just 2.5% of the total applicants made it to the stage, in front of an audience of 5,000 VCs and tech leaders, and a panel of judges.

The finalists pulled out the big guns–or should we say big data–and came armed with connected tech, robots, RNA sequencers and more.

The winner, visual e-sports platform Mobalytics, took home the coveted Disrupt Cup, along with $50,000, priceless media exposure, and new-found connections. The Ukrainian-based startup timed its beta launch for the Battlefield spectators, putting them under the spotlight and on the map.

Competing at Disrupt puts you in good company and the attention can propel new businesses. 610 past competitors have raised over $6 billion, with 76 exits as of May. So, now we’ve wet your appetite sufficiently, here’s how you can throw your hat in the ring for 2017.

Plan your launch strategically

While you can be any stage in your investment, most participants tend to be seed-stage. To be accepted, you need to have a functioning prototype. and preference is given to those who are launching for the first time. (Note: hardware companies can have crowdfunding but only for a different product.)

Check for a local Disrupt: NYC, SF, London?

The most successful applicants begin planning months in advance. When you do this you should look for local events. You can also be from anywhere in the world: TechCrunch says 30% of participants tend to come from the host-city, 30% from the US and 30% international.

Learn from past Battlefield winners

2015 Wildcard Winner ShieldSquare timed the launch of a new feature at Disrupt to help wow the crowds and generate new customer interest. Check out previous winners, especially those in your industry, read their blog posts, and find out how they prepared and pitched. Then think about how you can do even better.

Pitch – and do it well

The Startup Battlefield application requires companies to answer a series of questions to get a feel for the team – and this is your chance to pitch your business. In the first section, you need to explain why your team is unique. There is also a focus on your product, where you must go into what are you building, the problem it solves, and so on. You must aim to show how you are different, and what trend or context this ties to. When you are writing, avoid buzzwords and jargon – and remember; don’t just tell TC that you’re better, show them.

Spruce up your demo

Every applicant must provide a two-minute demo video of the product in action. These don’t have to be fancy, a smartphone video is fine. But TechCrunch advises you to kill the elevator music–and they love a real use-case walk through.

Keep these points in mind to make sure your application shines. There are no current application openings until 2017, but if you want to beat the competition, you should start planning now. Pick your Disrupt, sharpen your tools and prepare for battle. And good luck!

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