Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “disrupt sf 2018”

Auto Added by WPeMatico

And the winner of Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF 2018 is… Forethought

At the very beginning, there were 21 startups. After three days of incredibly fierce competition, we now have a winner. Startups participating in the Startup Battlefield have all been hand-picked to participate in our highly competitive startup competition. They all presented in front of multiple groups of VCs and tech leaders serving as judges for a chance to win $100,000 and the coveted Disrupt Cup. After hours of deliberations, TechCrunch editors pored over the judges’ notes and narrowed the list down to five finalists: CB Therapeutics, Forethought, Mira, Origami Labs and Unbound. These startups made their way to the finale to demo in front of our final panel of judges, which included: Cyan Banister (Founders Fund), Roelof Botha (Sequoia Capital), Jeff Clavier (Uncork Capital), Kirsten Green (Forerunner Ventures), Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures) and Matthew Panzarino (TechCrunch). And now, meet the Startup Battlefield winner of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018. Winner: Forethought Forethought has a modern vision for enterprise search that uses AI to surface the content that matters most in the context of work. Its first use case involves customer service, but it has a broader ambition to work across the enterprise. Read more about Forethought in our separate post. Runner-Up: Unbound Unbound makes fashion-forward vibrators, and their latest is the Palma. The new device masquerades as a ring, offers multiple speeds, and is completely waterproof. And the team plans to add accelerometer features. Read more about Unbound in our separate post.

Meet the five Startup Battlefield finalists at Disrupt SF 2018

Over the past two days, 21 companies have taken the stage at the Disrupt SF Startup Battlefield. We’ve now taken the feedback from all our expert judges and chosen five teams to compete in the finals. These teams will all take the stage again tomorrow afternoon to present in front of a new set of judges and answer even more in-depth questions. Then one startup will be chosen as the winner of the Battlefield Cup — and they’ll also take home $100,000. Here are the finalists. The competition will be livestreamed on TechCrunch starting at 1:35pm Pacific on Friday. CB Therapeutics CB Therapeutics is a new biotech company that aims to change the game with cannabinoids produced cleanly and cheaply in the lab, out of sugar. What it’s done is bioengineer microorganisms — specifically yeast — to manufacture cannabinoids out of plain-old sugars. Read more about CB Therapeutics here. Forethought Forethought has a modern vision for enterprise search that uses AI to surface the content that matters most in the context of work. Its first use case involves customer service, but it has a broader ambition to work across the enterprise. Read more about Forethought here. Mira Mira is a new device that aims to help women who are struggling to conceive. The Mira Fertility system offers personalized cycle prediction by measuring fertility hormone concentrations in urine samples, telling women which days they’re fertile. Read more about Mira here. Origami Labs Origami Labs wants to bring voice assistants right to your ear without requiring you to wear a device like a Bluetooth headset or Apple AirPods. Instead, the startup is using a ring on your finger combined with bone conduction technology to allow you to use your smartphone’s built-in assistant – whether that’s Google Assistant or Siri – in an all-new way. Read more about Origami Labs here. Unbound Unbound makes fashion-forward vibrators, and their latest is the Palma. The new device masquerades as a ring, offers multiple speeds, and is completely waterproof. And the team plans to add accelerometer features. Read more about Unbound here.  

Vtrus launches drones to inspect and protect your warehouses and factories

Knowing what’s going on in your warehouses and facilities is of course critical to many industries, but regular inspections take time, money, and personnel. Why not use drones? Vtrus uses computer vision to let a compact drone not just safely navigate indoor environments but create detailed 3D maps of them for inspectors and workers to consult, autonomously and in real time. Vtrus showed off its hardware platform — currently a prototype — and its proprietary SLAM (simultaneous location and mapping) software at TechCrunch Disrupt SF as a Startup Battlefield Wildcard company. There are already some drone-based services for the likes of security and exterior imaging, but Vtrus CTO Jonathan Lenoff told me that those are only practical because they operate with a large margin for error. If you’re searching for open doors or intruders beyond the fence, it doesn’t matter if you’re at 25 feet up or 26. But inside a warehouse or production line every inch counts and imaging has to be carried out at a much finer scale. As a result, dangerous and tedious inspections, such as checking the wiring on lighting or looking for rust under an elevated walkway, have to be done by people. Vtrus wouldn’t put those people out of work, but it might take them out of danger. The drone, called the ABI Zero for now, is equipped with a suite of sensors, from ordinary RGB cameras to 360 ones and a structured-light depth sensor. As soon as it takes off, it begins mapping its environment in great detail: it takes in 300,000 depth points 30 times per second, combining that with its other cameras to produce a detailed map of its surroundings. It uses this information to get around, of course, but the data is also streamed over wi-fi in real time to the base station and Vtrus’s own cloud service, through which operators and inspectors can access it. The SLAM technique they use was developed in-house; CEO Renato Moreno built and sold a company (to Facebook/Oculus) using some of the principles, but improvements to imaging and processing power have made it possible…

Wingly is carpooling for private planes

Don’t call Wingly the “Uber of the Sky” — Wingly co-fonder Emeric de Waziers would like to nip that little misinterpretation in the bud as the French startup looks to expand into the U.S. If anything, the startup’s mission is more akin to carpooling for small aircrafts, helping pilots fill up empty seats in small passenger planes. The distinction is an important one, with regard to the company’s ability to operate. After all, allowing private pilots to turn a profit changes the math significantly, both with regard to specific licenses and the company’s ability to operate inside different countries. Ninety-five percent of pilots who use the service don’t have a commercial license. “What often happens with hobby pilots is they set a budget for the year. They’re going to fly as many times as they can with this money. If they can fly four times cheaper, they can fly four times more. We have many pilots posting what we call ‘flexible flights,’ saying, ‘hey, I’m available for a roundtrip from San Francisco to Tahoe.’ The passenger says they’re interested and they book the flight.” Founded in July 2015, the company faced regulatory challenges early on in its native France. It was enough to cause Wingly to relocate operations, setting up shop in Germany in February of the following year. That launch was a sort of a proof of concept for the novel flight booking app. It was successful enough to convince Wingly to take on its home country again, pushing back against French regulatory bodies. These days, it operates in Germany, France and the UK, with those markets composing 45, 30 and 20 percent of the company’s business, respectively (with the other five percent belonging to various parts of Europe). Wingly’s flight matching service currently hosts around 2,000 passengers a month, with each flight averaging about 1.8 passengers. It’s not a huge number, but, then, these aren’t huge planes, with the prop and twin-engine crafts sporting between two and six seats each. Profitability for Wingly means pushing into high volume numbers, but the current pace has been successful enough for…

Kinta AI uses artificial intelligence to make factories more efficient

Kinta AI aims to make manufacturers smarter about how they deploy their equipment and other factory resources. The company, which is presenting today at TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield in San Francisco, was founded by a team with plenty of experience in finance, tech and AI. CEO Steven Glinert has held management and AI roles at fintech startups, CTO Rob Donnelly is studying the intersection of machine learning and economics as a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford and VP of Engineering Ben Zax has worked at both Facebook and Google. Glinert told me that when factory owners are making production decisions, they’re usually relying on “dumb software” to decide which machines should be used when, which can result in machines being deployed at the wrong time or in the wrong sequence, or sitting idle when they shouldn’t be. As a result, he said that scheduling errors account for 45 percent of late manufacturing orders. So Kinta AI tries to solve this problem with artificial intelligence, specifically reinforcement learning. Glinert said the company will run “millions and millions of factory simulations,” where the system gains “a statistical understanding of how your factory works and learning what actions you do to get what result” — and it can then use those simulations to choose the best schedule. “We run through, not every possible scenario, but we try to go through some of those,” he said. Glinert added that Kinta AI works with its customers to understand the nuances of each factory. He also compared the technology to Google’s AlphaGo AI and OpenAI’s Dota 2 neural networks — except that instead of using AI to play Go or Dota 2, Gilnert said Kinta AI is utilizing it “to do these detailed production planning decisions that are being made on the factory floor.” “Not all factories are that dissimilar from each other,” he said — similar to how “if you learned how to play Go, you can easily teach that neural net how to play chess or other game of that type.” And Kinta AI already has some customers, including chemical manufacturer BASF and a medical device…

Mira launches a device for more accurate fertility testing in the home

Mira, launching today at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, is a new device that aims to help women who are struggling to conceive. The Mira Fertility system offers personalized cycle prediction by measuring fertility hormone concentrations in urine samples, telling women which days they’re fertile. The system is more advanced and accurate than the existing home test kits, the company claims, which can be hard to read and aren’t personalized to the individual. The company behind Mira, Quanovate, was founded in late 2015 by a group of scientists, engineers, OBGYN doctors, and business execs to solve the problem of the unavailability of advanced home health testing. “I have a lot of friends who, like me, [prioritized] their career advancement and higher education, and they tended to delay their maternal age,” explains Mira co-founder and CEO Sylvia Kang. “But there’s no education for them about when to try for a baby, and they have no awareness about their fertility health,” she says. Kang received an MBA at Cornell Johnson, went to Columbia for an MS in Biomedical engineering and received at PhD in Biophysics from University of Pittsburgh, before working as a Business Director at Corning where she was responsible for $100 million in global P&L, which she left to start Mira. She says that women’s hormones are changing daily, and everyone’s profiles differ due to their lifestyle, stress levels and other factors. The only way to accurately track fertile days, then, is through continuous testing – something that’s been difficult to do at home. To solve this problem, the team worked to develop the Mira system, which includes a small home analyzer, urine test strips, and an accompanying mobile application. The home analyzer miniaturizes lab equipment for home use, and brings down the cost. To use the system, the woman places the test strip into the device which then uses immunofluorescence technology to read the results. Currently, the device tests for the presence of luteinizing hormone (LH), which is an indicator of ovulation. However, the company has already has plans to update the device so it can test for other hormones in the near future. (It’s FDA-cleared…

Kadho debuts Kidsense A.I., offline speech-recognition tech that understand kids

Kadho, a company building automatic speech recognition technology to help children communicate with voice-powered devices, is officially exiting stealth today at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 where it’s launching its new technology, Kidsense Edge voice A.I. The company claims its technology can better decode kids’ speech as it was built using speech data from 150,000 children’s voices. The COPPA-compliant solution, which is initially targeting the voice-enabled devices and voice-enabled toys market, is already being used by paying customers. As anyone with an Echo smart speaker or Google Home can tell you, today’s devices often struggle to understand children’s voices. That’s because current automatic speech recognition technology has been built for adults and was trained on adult voice data. Kidsense.ai, meanwhile, was built for kids using voices of children from different age groups and speaking different languages. By doing so, it believes it can outperform the big players in the market like Google, Samsung, Baidu, Amazon, and Microsoft, when it comes to understanding children’s speech, the company says. The company behind the Kidsense AI technology, Kadho, has been around since 2014, and was originally founded by PhDs with backgrounds in A.I. and neuroscience, Kaveh Azartash (CEO) and Dhonam Pemba (Chief Scientist). Chief Revenue Officer, Jock Thompson, is a third co-founder today. Initially, the company’s focus was on building conversational-based language learning applications for kids. “But the biggest pain point that we encountered…was that the devices that we were using or apps on – either mobile phones, tablets, robotics, or smart speakers  – they’re not built to understand kids,” explains Azartash. He means the speech recognition technology wasn’t built on kids’ data. “They’re not designed to communicate or understand kids.” The team realized there was a bigger problem to solve. Teaching kids new language using conversational techniques couldn’t work until devices could actually understand the kids. The company shifted to focus instead on speech recognition technology, using a data set of kids voices (which it did with parents’ consent, we’re told), to build Kidsense. The initial product was a server-based solution called Kidsense cloud AI in late 2017. But more recently, it’s been working on…

Lori Systems is launching a service with the Kenyan government for last-mile haulage from railroads

For Lori Systems chief executive and co-founder Josh Sandler, deals like the one between his company and the Kenyan government to solve last-mile solutions around the national railroad are about far more than just logistics. Sandler, whose family battled apartheid in South Africa as social workers, township doctors and (more dangerously) as financiers for the Spear of the Nation (the armed wing of the African National Congress), looks at logistics as an economic cornerstone for building more stable and democratic societies in sub-Saharan Africa. His parents had immigrated to the U.S. in 1990 when Sandler was still a young child to escape the violence that accompanied the negotiations to dissolve South Africa’s apartheid state. Sandler’s father had worked as a doctor in township hospitals, while his mother was a social worker who was setting up a support network for abused children. “A lot of the family was getting arrested and the country was breaking up and people feared a civil war and my dad got a fellowship in America and moved to Florida,” Sandler says.  But South Africa remained the touchstone for Sandler’s family life and he would often return to visit those activist relatives who remained to help shepherd the country through its early years as a democracy. It was during one visit to the country — when Sandler was working in a refugee camp — that the need for better economic solutions to the region’s problems became clear. In the aftermath of the economic collapse of Zimbabwe and the long-simmering civil war in the Congo in 2008, refugees from the region were flooding into South Africa — and it triggered a response in the country’s citizens. Xenophobic violence resulted in rioting, looting and the murder of immigrants at camps — and Sandler had gone to volunteer at the shelters that were caring for these refugees. “I had been debating between investment banking and the peace corps and went with investment banking because there needs to be a macroeconomic solution for this,” Sandler said. “Finding the core challenges from a macro perspective and preventing this from occurring by establishing…

Robinhood aims at IPO as the fintech startup seeks CFO

Now valued at $5.6 billion, zero-fee stock trading app and cryptocurrency exchange Robinhood is starting preparations to go public. Just a year and a half ago, it was still largely under the radar. But then it raised a $110 million Series C at a $1.3 billion valuation in April 2017 and then just a year later scored a $363 million Series D, both led by Russian-backed firm DST Global. Combined with the growth of its premium subscription for trading on margin called Robinhood Gold, the startup now has the firepower and revenue to make a viable Wall Street debut. Today during Robinhood CEO Baiju Bhatt’s talk at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, he revealed that his company is on the path to an IPO and has begun its search for a chief financial officer. It’s also undergoing constant audits from the SEC, FINRA and its security team to make sure everything is kosher and locked up tight. The CFO hire could help the five-year-old Silicon Valley startup pitch itself as the cheaper youthful alternative to E*Trade and traditional stock brokers. They’d also have to convince potential investors that even though cryptocurrency prices are in a downturn, allowing people to trade them for cheaper than competitors like Coinbase is a powerful user acquisition funnel. Robinhood now has 5 million customers tracking, buying and selling stocks, options, ETFs, American depositary slips receipts of international companies and cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum. That’s twice as many customers as its incumbent competitor E*Trade despite it having 4,000 employees compared to Robinhood’s 250. The startup has raised a total of $539 million to date from prestigious investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia and Google’s Capital G, allowing it to rapidly roll out products before its rivals can react. This rapid rise in valuation can go to some founders’ heads, or crush them under the pressure, but Bhatt cited “friendship” with his co-CEO Vlad Tenev as what keeps him sane. The startup has three main monetization streams. First, it earns interest on money users keep in their Robinhood account. Second, it sells order flow to stock exchanges…

Bumble launches Snooze button to pause dating for a digital detox

Bumble doesn’t want you to delete your account when you get into a relationship, go on vacation or just need a break from your phone. So today it’s launching a Snooze button that lets you stop showing up to people swiping through potential matches for a day, three days, a week or indefinitely. You’ll also get to select an away message, like “I’m traveling,” “I’m on a digital detox,” “I’m focusing on work” or “I’m prioritizing myself,” that will show up with existing matches with whom you’re chatting. The feature could ensure that Bumble’s 50 million registered users (announced today) aren’t flirting with an empty vacuum if their match goes AWOL from Bumble temporarily. And for users who turn it on, Snooze could reduce their FOMO about potentially missing out on a match or looking like they ignored someone’s message. “The impact of social media, especially on young women, has the potential to be very harmful and we have a responsibility to give our users the power to disconnect on their own terms whenever they see fit,” writes Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd. “We know Snooze will allow them to come back to us feeling refreshed and more open to new connections.” Tinder has its own Pause button, but it’s bundled alongside the account deletion button and has less intention and flexibility behind it. You can merely turn it on or off. Without the proper away messages, matches could think you’re just trying to ghost them. When Bumble and non-Bumble users were recently surveyed, more than 60 percent of women ages 18 to 24 said they felt overwhelmed by social media. Sixty percent of women surveyed also spend more than two hours a day on social media. Bumble’s in-house sociologist, Dr. Jessica Carbino, writes that “On social media, young women can develop unrealistic perceptions of what they should be or how others see them. These unrealistic expectations may ultimately have negative consequences for their physical and emotional well-being.” Wolfe Herd explains that “Yes, we are absolutely social media and with that comes both healthy and unhealthy behaviors. That’s…

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. More Info | Close