USA TODAY US Edition

What it’s like to go into the ‘start-up bat­tle­field’

- Natalie DiBla­sio @ndibla­sio USA TO­DAY

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.

 ?? TECHCRUNCH ?? Agrilyst, which won San Fran­cisco TechCrunch Dis­rupt’s “start-up bat­tle­field” in 2015, helps green­house op­er­a­tors run their op­er­a­tions more ef­fi­ciently.
TECHCRUNCH Agrilyst, which won San Fran­cisco TechCrunch Dis­rupt’s “start-up bat­tle­field” in 2015, helps green­house op­er­a­tors run their op­er­a­tions more ef­fi­ciently.

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