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What it’s like to go into the ‘start-up battlefield’
In season one of HBO’s Sili
con Valley, the entrepreneurs at fictional start-up Pied Piper make an appearance at TechCrunch Disrupt. The event’s “start-up battlefield” — a real event that’s legendary among new start-ups in the real Silicon Valley — launched Pied Piper into start-up success.
HBO did its best to keep things as close to the real semiannual tech conference as possible — it even used the same banner printing company that TechCrunch uses. So how does the show’s version stack up to the real world?
“It’s mostly the same,” TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield emcee Anthony Ha says. “In terms of the format and the feeling, it’s very accurate.”
Here’s how the competition works:
First, hundreds of new start- ups, most that haven’t launched yet, apply to participate. The TechCrunch staff goes through the applications and chooses some 20-30 of them to do live demonstrations on stage in front of a panel of judges over the course of the first two days of the conference.
The companies each have six minutes to present their products and six minutes for a Q&A session with the judges, who then narrow down the field to five or six finalists who present again on the last day. Then, judges choose a winner, who gets $50,000 and the “Disrupt Cup.”
For an unknown start-up, a win can be a game-changer — with the immediate spotlight of attention from the media and investors. Past Disrupt champions include Dropbox and Mint.
“When you’re up there on the stage, it does feel like the most insane dramatic thing in the world,” Ha says.