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Category: Food

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TechCrunch Disrupts Battlefield Winner Announced!

On the final day of TechCrunch Disrupts, the final six startups duked it out in the Startup Battlefield—they were: Regalii, Ossia, Fates Forever, SoilIQ, Dryft, and Layer. Each of these teams took part in the Startup Battlefield earlier on against 23 other finalists and came out on top.

To determine the winner, the startups’ impact on the world are reviewed by a panel of judges consisting of: Michael Arrington (Founder of TechCrunch), Roelof Botha (partner at Sequoia Capital), Chris Dixon (Andreesen Horowitz), David Lee (founder of SV Angel), Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo!), and Keith Rabois (Khosla Ventures). The startup that wins the Startup Battlefield will bring home the Disrupt Cup along with a $50,000 stipend.


Regalii’s goal is to maximize the efficiency of remittance. Their product functions through SMS; essentially, the sender can send an SMS to somebody and the recipient will get a pin number that works like a gift card. This is an improvement to current forms of remittance such as Western Union in that the recipient gets the money immediately—this means that, along with speedy money delivery, both parties minimize the deductions made by a third party. Thus far, the startup has experienced a growth of 67% per week, showing signs of success in the market. Regalii claimed that this product “is the future of global remittance.”


Ossia created a product named COTA. This device is the first of its kind as it is able to remotely send power anywhere within a 30 feet radius to devices and charge them. COTA will detect the device location via a secondary attachment and send power to and only to that location. A demonstration was shown in which a light bulb lit up when held near a prototype, but went out the moment it was moved—the consumer model is expected to be able to charge a moving device as well. Imagine a world where wires are no longer needed—everything will be charged wirelessly. That is the future that Ossia offers with COTA.


Fates Forever is a gaming startup. What makes it so special is that it proposes to bring a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) to the growing tablet market—this has never been done before. The touchscreen will add even more to the gaming experience. While some of the judges questioned the novelty (and, thus, the ability to get a large enough market) of reintroducing a popularized genre to the tablet, founder, Jason Citron, countered by stating that many successful games are essentially a reintroduction of previous games with a different spin. In this case, the use of a touchscreen and an under-saturated tablet gaming market will bring Fates Forever far.


SoilIQ aims to revolutionize the farming industry. They created a device that can be stuck into the ground where it will measure various aspects of the soil: pH, temperature, humidity, sunlight, etc. The device is solar powered and sends the data to the cloud, where it will be analyzed. The software will make crop suggestions based on the state of the soil. Additionally, when the parameters of the soil changes such that the crop will die, a message will be sent to the user’s phones. The company measured a 15% - 20% increase in crop yield, showing proof of concept. With this, crops can be grown in larger bulk, sold more cheaply, and, most importantly, can feed more mouths.


Dryft was the runner up of the TechCrunch Disrupts Battlefield. Their plan is to optimize texting efficiency for the tablet. The product is essentially a tablet keyboard. The on screen keyboard will take advantage of the accelerometer and touch screen to detect typing based on the vibrations made from tapping the screen. As a byproduct of easier typing, the front end (e.g. autocorrect) won’t be as messy, either. While there is a transition from notebook to tablet, this product can possibly push the rate of this shift even faster!


This leaves the winner of the TechCrunch Disrupts Battlefield, Layer. This startup offers a product to all app developers; a code that can allow them to easily and seamlessly integrate SMS, voice, and video communication to any app. Not only that, there is no phone to phone restriction—multiple devices can take part. While many other companies have tried this, they’ve only been able to succeed at the beginning stages, because of the underestimated difficulty of this undertaking, resulting in scaling problems. Layer could potentially maximize the efficiency of communications between all mobile devices.


All of these startups had amazing ideas with proof of concept—unfortunately, only one could win. This doesn’t mean the end of any of the other companies. A backstage chat said that, “as long as these startups don’t [mess] up, they will be very successful.” While Layer won, not everybody is in agreement with that decision. Who do you think should have won?


Food, the Internet, & the Paradox of Choice


As the Internet has evolved at a rapid rate over the last twenty years, we have truly become a connected, online world. Today there are an abundant number of content sites and various technological devices that help us receive the omnipresent information around us. We’ve never been more wired in for information, yet how can we decipher and sift through all that data in order to make a decision on something so simple as a place to eat?


We face a paradox of choice.  Having choice upon choice is a gift yet it’s also a curse. Many of us find ourselves looking for something as simple and rewarding as a place to eat.  But after wasted time sifting through the Interwebs, our well-intentioned action often risks abandonment. We say, “Ah, forget it.” That’s why we need to take control and reconsider the relationship we have with our frequent companion, the Web.


Would you rather spend Friday night perusing reviews or actually dining out on the town? If we can make technology work for us, we can find that hidden gem of a restaurant in a heartbeat.


Rewiring the Web is a win-win. New technologies are already connecting diners with restaurants and enabling the discovery of something new.


You can now tell your circle about your last meal, view a restaurant’s unique menu, and connect with your favorite chef online. Technology has even made it possible for us to make a reservation or order food delivered to our door with just a click of a button. There is a multitude of choice and convenience out there and it’s now being brought to you.


There are also many ways the Internet is benefiting restaurant owners and operators who work in an industry that runs on efficiency and volume. Restaurants can now electronically feed diners with everything from menus to exclusive specials to targeted surveys. There are even available technologies that monitor the wait time for a table and buzz the diner when a table is ready, capturing customers they might otherwise lose.


Turning paradox into personalization. As more connections are made between consumers and restaurants, we’ll be sifting through a tailored list of information that is most relevant to us. It will be easier for diners to find their restaurant match as computers grow able to learn what diners want and inherently narrow down their choices. No matter what we’re looking for, it will become easier for us to find a match without wasting any time.


As food and technology continue to escalate their romance, we will no longer be faced with the struggle of deciding, but rather the excitement of discovering.