TechCrunch Disrupt Challenge: Describe Your Startup (in a 140 characters or less)

TechCrunch Disrupt Challenge:  Describe Your Startup (in a 140 characters or less)

I was able to attend TechCrunch Disrupt 2016 held in San Francisco and focused my time meeting startups that had a display on the floor.  After I would meet with a startup, I would take a picture of them, include their company name or Twitter account and described what they did.  This interestingly enough was a challenge for almost all the startups I talked to.

In some cases, it was a no brainer.  A startup would have a short tag line that was descriptive and easy to comprehend.  An example is Infani Inc, Smart Baby Monitor Solution.  Being a parent, I instantly got it.

infini techcrunch disrupt

However, for many of the startups that I met, it wasn’t so simple.  A good example is Troop.  Their tagline was “Organize your Business with Cards.”  When I read their tagline, I assumed it was some sort of system that organized business cards.  It turns out that it was something more like Basecamp.  So, in as we were brainstorming how to describe it, the phrase “it’s like JIRA for everything. “  Hmmm…being a developer, I knew what JIRA was but I don’t think a lot of people did.  We finally settled on “Card base collaboration system.”  My response was that I don’t think people would get it but in the interest of time, we went with it.  For this article, I went back to their web site and they changed their Tag Line to “The best way to manage your project, your team, your life.”  To their credit, they must have taken feedback from TechCrunch and re-worked their tag line.


It wasn’t only startups that had a challenge describing what they did in a tweet.  The folks at the IBM Watson display had a hard time describing Watson; finally settling on “Artificial Intelligence Platform” (I helped them with that).  Cisco also had a hard time describing Cisco Spark.  Their initial description was “It’s like Slack” but quickly dismissed it.  They finally got their marketing person on their team who came up with “Business Collaboration Made Simple.” I don’t know what that means but went with it.


Hopefully, you’ve got a 30 second elevator pitch for your chance encounter with Marc Andreessen.  But I’ll end this article with a challenge to you.  Can you describe what your startup does in 140 characters or less?  Try it. I think this will be a good exercise that will force you to be succinct in describing your startup.


By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.


Aging 2.0 Sacramento Startup Competition


The mission of  Aging 2.0 is to accelerate innovation that improves the lives of older adults.  They have a venture fund and an accelerator for Startups that focus on senior care and aging issues.  In addition, they are conducting the Aging 2.0 Global Startup Search which is a series of 40 local aging focused startup competition that culminates in a Final Showcase to be held in Sacramento on October 13.

On June 30, Aging 2.0 held a startup pitch competition in Sacramento.  Over 50 startups applied to compete in the competition and 8 companies were selected.  These are the winners selected by the 4 person judging panel (for which I was a member):

1st Place:  Stack

Stack Labs has developed a responsive lighting system that is able to provide circadian lighting, sense occupancy, and light sensing.

2nd Place:  Hello Nurse

Hello Nurse has developed an Eldercare system that helps detect falls and bed moisture of elder residents.

3rd Place:  PT Tracker

PT Tracker is a Sacramento based startup that is developing a solution to improve compliance with Physical Training through a mobile app and wearables.

Stack also won the audience choice award which was determined by the popular vote of the local audience.

Stack will go compete with other area winners at the Final Showcase on October 13.  The event was a great success in promoting the Sacramento startup scene and the Aging Innovation Space

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

5 Challenges of a Startup Appreneur in 2016


The new millennium has opened up the market for mobile application development transforming entrepreneurs into appreneurs. In the last decade, we’ve seen the rise of Billion Dollar App Companies such as Uber and Airbnb. Setting sail on your very own appreneurship comes with challenges exclusive to the tech community. If you’re thinking about launching a startup or developing your very own mobile app, here are some common challenges to be aware of.

 App Development Challenge 1: The Need for Speed

A typical theme is the demand for having things not now, but yesterday. The demand for faster and more efficient solutions will only increase as time moves forward. As such, there’s an advantage to being being quick and beating your competitors to the punch.  If you streamline your product and cut down on features by focusing on developing a Minimum Viable Product, you’ll find a swifter time to market.

App Development Challenge 2: The Need for Cross platform and Backend Development

An app based startup up must realistically develop apps for both Android and iOS devices (which make up 98% of the smartphone market). In addition to developing an app, typically it needs to have a cloud-based backend to support it. It’s rare for one developer to be proficient at all so you typically need a team of developers.


Image Source: unpauseasia

App Development Challenge 3: Focus on Design and Usability

The simple truth is that your app needs to be visually attractive.  If it ain’t people won’t download it. After they’ve downloaded it, it has to be intuitive and user friendly. If it ain’t, it won’t be used again.  Before your team starts coding, nail the user interface.

App Development Challenge 4: Nail it then Scale it.

One of the things that an apprenuers needs to do is a plan to grow their business. I’ve seen many startups fail because they didn’t have a growth plan. My suggestion is to focus on growing your concept in a certain geography. Once you figured out a successful formula, you can attack other geographies. This is how Uber, Facebook, and Airbnb grew their businesses.


Image Source: CapitalFM

App Development Challenge 5: Cash is King

Cash is the oxygen for any business. Not enough and it dies. Typically, I see appreneurs bootstrapping (and working day jobs) while working on their MVP. Once the product goes live, it’s a race between burn rate and generating revenue and it’s game over when the cash runs out. This is where you need a CFO that will help you navigate expenses, revenue and fund raising.


Being an appreneur isn’t for everyone but with a lot of fortitude, courage and a good dose of luck, your startup has the potential of being the next Uber. By recognizing these challenges, build a team with the proper skills and strengths. Also if you have an app already in the works and are looking for stakeholders, check out 4 tips how to not scare away investors. Believe me, we see it happen all the time.


By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

4 Tips to Attract Mobile App Investors

If you’re thinking of starting a new business, you’re not alone. With so many new applications being developed in recent years, it seems that the young entrepreneurs are taking over. In fact, according to the Kauffman Foundation, new businesses (0-5 years old) make up almost 20% of all of the net job creation in the United States. The hardest part of a new business, though, is finding the funds to get it up and running. Here are some things to keep in mind when pitching to potential investors without scaring the living the daylights out of them.

Mobile App Tip #1: Be original

Before an investor gets involved, he or she wants to be wowed. In short, they’re unimpressed until they’re impressed. This is clearly demonstrated by Angel Investors’ deal acceptance rate of 21%. They’re not going to shell out thousands of dollars just to produce a copycat product of something that has already been invented.
Your product needs to be fresh, it needs to be relevant, and it needs to be a sure thing. Investors are more likely to give their money to people who produce an original product than those who try to recreate the wheel.


Image Source: Technology Pep

Mobile App Tip #2: Put it all on the table

Investors value honesty above all else, since the lack of information can come back to bite them more often than not. As of 2011, the percentage of “bad exits,” or bankruptcies were as high as 24% – so you could see how they would be a little sensitive

Make sure that from day one you are as honest about the strengths and weaknesses of your product as possible, because if you aren’t, investors will sense it and back off. The people you are pitching to didn’t get to where they are by being stupid. They most likely have a keen sense for when something isn’t right, so be respectful of that.


Image Source: PCMA

Mobile App Tip #3: Be flexible.

Nothing turns an investor off faster than an attitude of “my way or the highway” from an entrepreneur. An investor wants to feel involved from the very beginning, and wants to feel their entrepreneur is coachable. More deals happen in the early stages of the company’s life than any other stages for a reason: The investor wants to have had enough time to see potential, but wants to get in early enough to ensure their role in its growth. You may have birthed the idea for this company, but if you want the investor on board, you’re going to have to be flexible and let them develop it.

Mobile App Tip #4: Have the Four M’s in place.

Mark Suster, a successful entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, outlined in his article The Four Main Things That Investors Look For In A Startup that an entrepreneur should demonstrate the four golden M’s: fast, upward Momentum, a stellar Management team, a large Market, and, of course, a great deal of Money or earning potential. This should all be demonstrated very early on in the first presentation.


Image Source: MarketUmbrella

As with anything else, put yourself in the investor’s shoes and you’ll understand why and how they do the things they do. Do your research, not just on venture capitalists, but on the specific people you’re trying to meet – and you will go far. When you’re able to seal the deal, the next phase is to maintain it. You should read the 5 challenges of a startup appreneur so you can best prepare for the journey ahead.


Written by guest writer: Jeanine Amella