The TechCrunch conference organized by the eponymous technology blog took place in Moscow on December 9-10. It is one of the most popular world-wide festival forums, where venture investors and developers of IT business projects can meet. In San Francisco where I take part in several startups as an entrepreneur and a coauthor, the TechCrunch conference is one of the best-known events.
About 40 Russian companies were present at TechCrunch Moscow 2012 and presented new IT developments. This is done in two ways. The first way is the “Elevator Pitch” presentation, which is traditional for TechCrunch. The background of this concept was the task of telling about your project to an investor who you meet in an elevator, i.e., you should tell very briefly about all the investor may be interested in. In the conference format, it is a demonstration of a brief, three-minute long presentation on a big screen.
As a rule, one of the project founders takes the floor and talks about his or her company for three minutes. After that the speaker has to stop, he or she is simply interrupted. Venture investors and representative of venture capital funds start asking questions at their own discretion. This is all very brief. If a company can kindle somebody’s interest by presenting the very essence of their innovation, they will be next to make a presentation. Second, all participating companies have small posters hung around in corridors, and you can get some information about their project just by walking along. This format is simple and easy to comprehend. I tried to read about all projects, two days of the conference are quite enough to review all the projects in sufficient detail. Of the entire startup gallery, there were two or three strong projects, in my opinion. All the rest are either 100% copies of US analogs, or copies of something that is hard to recognize, probably, copies of the fifth or tenth level.
The most popular ideas currently are:
Mobile technology projects
Interactive maps and related users’ experience
Various advertising traffic aggregators
Automatic application development projects (e.g., for iPhones)
There are many similar projects in the field of collective services, that is, when one person can ask somebody to provide a service for a fee, for example, bring him/her a pizza. The peak of popularity of such startups in the USA ended about two years ago. Now they started to appear in Russia, as well.
What seemed to be the craziest component of TechCrunch Moscow was the language. I remember that once IT people would talk to each other using some mixture of Russian and English with a great amount of English phrases included without any translation. It was almost, or totally impossible for an outsider to understand the speech of professional IT people on overhearing it. Then, English was made the working language of the conference. It took place in the center of Moscow, within a mile from the Kremlin. And everyone was speaking English. All speeches and presentations were delivered in English.