My TechCrunch Disrupt Review (2014)

Oct 24, 2014
Disrupt is without doubt one of Europe’s biggest startup events, and lived up to expectations, bringing together all the key players for some interesting talks. I wanted to do a traditional write up, but when I looked at my notes, everything Morgan Lund said made the rest of my notes look pedestrian by comparison. It was a fireside chat, as you can see below, but felt more like a lively chat show…

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Here are some of my favourites quotes:

On cashing out and being rich:

“I see very few people who get very rich who are very happy” – Lund XY guy

On why humanity has not technologically progressed as much as it could do:

“Everyone in Europe over 40 is watching TV and eating doughnuts”

On funding other startups after he had cashed out of Paypal:

“I had constant conversations with new entrepreneurs at my home…When I was rich it was hard to get out of my kitchen without $100,000”

On the relationship between founders desperate to raise money, and VC’s:

“People don’t realise that a VC is sucking as much dick as a startup guy, constantly raising funds themselves, from places like pension friends.”

In reply to interviewer Mike Butcher saying “I’ve heard that when Investors see your name in a cap table, they say “We’re interested in investing, but what are we going to do about Morgan?”:

“V.C’s don’t like me because they can’t just roll over 4 guys who have just came out of school”

(Burn!)

On how Europe’s startup ecosystem can improve:

“We don’t have to get better. We don’t need more entrepreneurs starting companies. We just need to stimulate the good ones”

And finally, the quote that was tweeted everywhere this week:

“Entrepreneurship is for lunatics with extreme self-confidence”

Elsewhere at Disrupt, there were some great companies in Silicon Alley. My personal favourites were Niume (like Tumblr for niches) and Kinetise (WordPress for Apps), and (one of the others). The party on the first night was a good mixture of free bar and TechCrunch staff getting harassed by founders, and the second day continued with some excellent talks from the likes of Ed Vasey and Homejoy founder Adora Cheung.

Despite Morgan hogging the limelight, the two quotes that will stay with me are a founder on stage who summarised my own hopes and dreams so well:

“Every single day you learn something new. Don’t build a startup for the product, build it because it’s a journey, an opportunity to have all these experiences and meet all these people.”

I love what I do for a living. When I told a close friend how much we had raised and what I do day-to-day, she told me I was being paid to learn. Of course, that investment was paid so that we may be the company who is acquired or IPO’s. Away from all the excitement of the Startup battlefield, where startups compete for £30,000, some pretty huge tech press coverage, I sat down at a table and went to check my email. As it happened, I was sitting next to two major V.C’s. Their discussion was as mathematical as VC talk is (i.e. highly analytical, logical and brutally clinical) and for me there was a dark note for the European startup ecosystem when I heard one say this:

“All the startups here are at least two times as bad as their equivalents in other markets of the world. There’s very few techy plays here like you’d find in Israel or America. Everything is…derivatives of other products, pinning their hopes on network effects to succeed. Away from the fanfare of this exciting conference, the European startup scene desperately needs more stars, even if it’s heading in the right direction. Having seen the potential in this hall over the last two days, I have no doubts that the next time disrupt returns to London, European countries will be even stronger.

Events I’ve spoken at

Oct 15, 2014

You can see feedback from my recent talks here. Events I have spoken at or panels I have been on onstage:

Lion’s Cage event, London, UK, January 2013
Social Media Week, London, UK, July 2013
News Rewired journalism conference, London, UK, September 2013
TechHub Enterprise Ireland event, London, UK, October 2013
Angel Investment Network event, London, UK, November 2013
Newspaper conference in Oslo, Norway, January 2014
City Meets Tech event, London, UK, January 2014
Silicon Roundabout, London, UK, January 2014
TechHub demo night, London, UK, February 2014
Medialab session, London, UK, February 2014
Techstars, mini-MBA, London, UK, May 2014
Techstars demo day, London, UK, June 2014
Techstars, Fintech class mini-MBA, London, UK, July 2014
Frontrowio Workshop, London, UK, September 2014
Panel discussion with BBC Breakfasts Steph McGovern, AOP Conference, London, UK, October 2014
Panel discussion with the vice mayor of Oslo, SXSW, Austin, Texas, March 2015
20×2, SXSW, Austin, Texas, March 2015
Panel discussion with Simian Mobile Disco, SXSW, Austin, Texas, March 2015
Social Media, PR, & Content presentation, Startup Institute @ Central Working, London, March 2015
General Assembly talk on Content Marketing, London, UK, April 2015
Oxygen accelerator talk, London, UK, April 2015
Estonian Startup Leaders Club, Talinn, Estonia, May 2015
General Assembly talk on content marketing, London, UK, May 2015
Digital Shoreditch,London, UK, May 2015
Startup Britain/Rockstar mentoring event,London, UK, May 2015
General Assembly talk on growth hacking, London, UK, May 2015
Hacker News event, London, UK, May 2015

Vincent Dignan
Vincent Dignan