TechCrunch Disrupt: 4 Lessons to Help You Stay Ahead of the Trends

TechCrunch Disrupt—an annual conference where game-changing technologies are introduced—has a lot to teach small-business owners.
May 11, 2016

TechCrunch Disrupt is an annual event that introduces revolutionary technologies. Launched in 2011, this year's conference took place in New York City from May 9 to May 11. At the conference, small-business owners get a bird’s eye view of up-and-coming technological products and services that have the potential for changing the marketplace.

“TechCrunch Disrupt gives small-business owners the opportunity to see firsthand the latest in tech and the future of technology,” says Blair Linville, CEO of Tectonic. “The event consists of an audience of influencers with whom you can share new business and technology ideas while observing trends that may go mainstream.”

Chris Furlong, co-founder and chief product officer of Ultra Mobile and Primo Connect, attended this year and exhibited Primo Connect at the event’s Startup Alley, where early-stage companies can display their wares and talent to attendees and press. “We’re looking forward to the additional exposure and having the chance to get direct feedback as we demonstrate our product,” he says. “As a small business, you can become internally focused on running the company, so it’s great to have events like this to check in with the latest developments, trends and emerging companies. What was current six months ago when we researched the market is already out of date, so we find such events invaluable and inspirational.”

Here are some insights from this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt that may help you stay ahead of the trends and improve your business.

Learn About Today’s Consumer

TechCrunch Disrupt can be relevant to targeting the needs of today’s consumer, notes Stacy Haitsuka, CTO and co-founder of TuneGO, a multi-platform music discovery network that connects independent artists with the music industry.

In a world of smartphones, smart cars and even smart houses, the Internet is no longer limited to your desktop computer. Your online profile follows you wherever you go.

—Stacy Haitsuka, CTO of TuneGO

“Disrupt’s gathering of the best and brightest entrepreneurs, investors, thought leaders and the introduction of the latest game-changing technologies provides small-business owners valuable insights into understanding the ever changing dynamics of their target market,” she says. “Millennials are the people your business has to keep up with and understand to be successful. This is where conferences like TechCrunch Disrupt become vital. Networking with entrepreneurs coming out with the newest technologies helps you understand the people who are going to buy your product.”

Understand the Role of Big Data

Data is among the most innovative and vital technology coming out of the conference, believes Linville. “New tools in data analytics that help companies gather [customer insights] to drive interaction to build their core audiences is what will have the most impact for small businesses,” says Linville, who has followed the conference’s live stream. “Data has been a major focus over the past five years and will continue to be an asset small businesses can analyze in order to understand trends. Every small business CEO and marketer should be excited to see what new data-driven technologies are introduced this year.”

Big data may be useful and here to stay, but it’s vital to balance its use with consumer privacy, believes Gary Miliefsky, CEO of SnoopWall, Inc., a breach prevention security company. At the conference, this issue was addressed when Nate Cardozo of Electronic Frontier Foundation and Marten Mickos of HackerOne presented “Needs of the Many: Finding a Balance Between Security and Privacy Through Technology.”

“There will always be a challenge in weighing ‘big data’ and cloud-based data collection against privacy needs—even though you’re attempting to make purchasing decisions easier for your customers,” says Miliefsky, who advises considering security protection a top priority.

Balance Online Advertising With Privacy

The issue of privacy can also be at odds with online advertising, notes Haitsuka. “In a world of smartphones, smart cars and even smart houses, the Internet is no longer limited to your desktop computer. Your online profile follows you wherever you go. As long as consumers are ‘connected,’ there are companies and various government agencies using Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA) to collect data to learn habits, trends and buying patterns. While OBA can be a powerful and useful tool that is proven to reach targeted customers and even market new products to existing customers, it presents privacy concerns. The key is transparency and permission and protection.”

Take Advantage of Live Streaming

As a means of marketing events and experiences, live streaming is becoming increasingly more popular. This TechCrunch Disrupt is the first major media conference to stream on Facebook Live.

“Serving a generation raised on internet-connected laptops, tablets, cellphones and other devices creates new challenges, as well as huge opportunities for small-business owners,” says Haitsuka. “In our industry, this is clearly evidenced as U.S. streaming music sales have surpassed the once dominant industry of CD sales. Music industry revenues grew this year for the first time since 1995, and live streaming is clearly taking off, so pay close attention to anything music and anything streaming.”

Read more articles on digital tools.

Photo: iStock