The TechCrunch Disrupt Conference is a three day whirlwind of the most disruptive innovations not just in Silicon Valley, but around the world as well. Within just three short days  I had the opportunity to see and speak with over 400 companies who create everything from simple apps to humanoid robots. While the entire conference is centered around innovation and disruption, several specific trends and companies caught my attention.

Key Takeaways

  • Bitcoin is gaining traction in a meaningful way – Stripe is accepting it as a valid currency and Paypal announced Monday they would accept Bitcoin as well. Additionally, there were a slew of startups doing things with Bitcoin.
  • Enterprise security for email and messaging is a bit of a “boring” space, but there were a number of new companies addressing security and specifically in an enterprise context. Notably, two companies – Cyber Dust (backed by Dallas Mavericks owner and star of ABC’s Shark Tank, Mark Cuban) and Minder – are trying to bring secure messaging to individuals as well.
  • “The minute you hit send you lose ownership of that message, but you don’t lose responsibility… As we go forward Cyber Dust will look for new ways to shrink our digital footprint…” – Mark CubanSmart home companies were too numerous to count and were mostly centered around cooking, home automation, smart HVAC, and lighting.

The three most interesting companies to me were, SelfLender, Semusi, and Skully.

  • SelfLender was a Battlefield company and they essentially try to help individuals build or repair their credit score. For a small monthly fee, you can take out a credit line and pay it back over time, building credit as you do
  • Semusi takes data from relevant smart phone sensors and deducts context for the developer, then hands it off in the form of an easy to use API. They say they can deduce gender, activities, and places among other things.
  • Skully is essentially Google Glass for motorcycle helmets. It’s a helmet with a small built-in display that adds a rear-facing camera (so you can see people pulling up on you), along with phone calling abilities and GPS directions – which means better safety for motorcycle riders. Importantly, they block all other apps from the display to avoid distraction.

The three companies that seem the most impactful today or in the near future were Blinkist, MailTime, and IndoorAtlas.

  • Blinkist does short, easy-to-digest book reports for important titles. In fact, on the plane ride home I used it to catch up on a few books I’d been meaning to read.
  • MailTime shows your displays for your  email formatted similarly as instant messaging and allows you to respond in the same way. Their app is worth checking out and currently available for those of you using an iPhone and Gmail.
  • IndoorAtlas works with the hardware already inside most modern smartphones and proclaims 6-9 foot accuracy for indoor location based on the earth and building’s natural magnetic map. If they can actually achieve that accuracy, it will have massive impact.

So what does all this tech industry disruption mean for travel? Indoor location is one of the innovations that may have direct application in airports and hotels. The trends around secure messaging could impact the ways suppliers and travelers communicate. Many of the hardware companies and robotics featured may be used to help travelers in the future with everything from baggage to drink orders.

Overall, TechCrunch Disrupt was an awesome event with amazing speakers, fascinating innovations, and global participation. I was glad to be part of Sabre‘s representation there.