What to expect from TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Alley?

By | Kezmo

So you are thinking about going to TechCrunch Disrupt, maybe even exhibit at the Startup Alley and you are wondering… is it worth it for my startup?

We’ve just returned from our TC Disrupt trip to San Francisco last week. We were there to launch Kezmo, our enterprise chat and team collaboration tool. We had a table at the startup alley, as part of the Uruguay pavilion, so we can tell you exactly what to expect.


What to expect from TC Disrupt

  • I see startup people. People, thousands of them. This 2016 edition had somewhere between 3000 and 4000 attendees. Most of them startupers. Fellow startup founders, desperate to be noticed, which sets the stage for a hard competition for attention.  Beyond the numbers it’s important to stress the fact that you see people from all around the globe. TC Disrupt has country pavilions, as part of the Startup Alley which adds to the cosmopolitan vibe. It’s good if you want to get a feel of how your product resonates with different cultural backgrounds.
  • Venture/Vulture Capital. You will talk to some VCs representatives, and some VCs wannabes. The latter are dangerous as they can be tire kickers and will suck time and focus out of your brains. Be warned.
  • Tech Journalists. If you exhibit you get a list with a couple of hundred journalists that will be there. You can email/spam them with very low chances of getting a response back. You will get to talk to some of them during the event…but unless you either know somebody who knows somebody and can introduce you to a journalist, or if your startup is somehow related to one of the darling topics of the moment (this year it was all about AI & Virtual Reality) getting coverage will be pretty hard. So low expectations there, and start moving those connections, or talking to those PR agencies.
  • Students. Hackathon winners, university students, MBA graduates, you name it.  They are not the majority but you will come across them. They will listen to your pitch with a lot of attention (maybe too much?) only to let you know later that they have just finished this career/course and are looking for a job. But hey, if you are running a startup outside the US. and are looking to expand your operations in that country it can be an opportunity, right?
  • Talks. If you follow the startup scene, you will notice that people you admire will be giving some cool talk. Unfortunately you won’t have time to attend to most of them. Unless there’s three of you tending to your booth, and you can just leave. For insance in this edition Neil Stephenson was signing books, and I loved Seveneves, but I really couldn’t make it. It was rush hour at the booth and before I noticed they day had finished.
  • Business Development Opportunities. Among the army of startups presenting you will come across some interesting companies. Competitors for once, but also startups whose business could be a good complement to yours, and it’s in these cases that you have an opportunity to discuss some kind of arrangement that may server both parties.
  • Interesting contacts. I came back with +50 business cards, of various degrees of relevance. There are probably 5 of them that could prove to be valuable contacts in the future. From other tradeshow experiences I was expecting to come back with more like 200 hundred cards. Maybe it was just poor hustling on my side, but those are the figures. On the other hand I know I delivered hundreds of my own cards, and was left without any by the second day.
  • Trends. You don’t have to be go to Disrupt to stay on top of trends, but it never hurts to be there and get a feel for what’s trending in the startup scene.

What NOT to expect from TC Disrupt

  • End users. Unless your end users are specifically startups, and startup founders, but even in that case, they will be probably too busy to pay meaningful attention to you at least during the event. If you expect people to hear about your product and register that same night you will probably be disappointed.
  • Enterprise. Large corporations do not have a big presence at Disrupt. With some exceptions that send R&D representatives to spot trends, most large corporations are just not there. So if you plan to connect with these type of companies, or if you are looking to connect with CIOs or CTOs you should start looking somewhere else, maybe the Gartner events?
  • Secured Coverage. In my opinion TC could do a better job at providing exhibitors better coverage. As an exhibitor you get listed in a lousy dynamically generated page that’s very hard to find & navigate. It does not appear in search engines, and where you are listed along with hundreds of startups within a collapsible accordion (I dare you to find Kezmo). For days I was expecting to have some kind of public url I could use in tweets or blog posts, if only to make a statement with local investors that our presence at Disrupt was real but what they provided arrived late and was pretty poor.

Final thoughts

We tried to make the most of the event by launching Kezmo to the public at Disrupt. To some extent this did provide some news coverage,  from media we were not expecting in regions we did not foresee.

Our previous experiences in tradeshows and conferences came from the Microsoft world, in SharePoint events, such as SPTechCon. In comparison that type of events are more enterprise oriented, have more CIOs & CTOs attending and offer a more focused audience for the type of products we develop.

In a couple of weeks I will know for sure if the event really paid off. For now it’s a close call.

Should you go? Sure, provided you have the right expectations.




Kezmo is going to TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016

By | Email Alternative, enterprise, Enterprise Collaboration, Kezmo, Knowledge Management

We are excited we are going to TechCrunch Disrupt
Yes, we are going to silicon valley’s mecca event TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2016!!

We will be showcasing Kezmo to the world, in the startup alley, in the Uruguay pavillion. Kezmo is an enterprise chat and collaboration platform to help teams get things done. Yes, we too are trying to to kill email, but we will succeed were others have miserably failed. We are experimenting with visual ways to navigate contents which we believe is critical for handling and prioritizing large volumes of interactions.

Kezmo is available in the cloud or you can set it up on premises. It’s localized in several languages, which is not a minor thing when fostering adoption of these type of tools in the enterprise environment.

While Kezmo is still in a closed beta phase, if you stop by our booth we just might hand out an invitation to you 🙂

Getting ready for TechCrunch Disrupt

We are working hard, jumping through hoops and loops to have everything ready for the event. So if you are at the TechCrunch Disrupt please do stop by the Alley to say hi and get some of the gifts and surprises we are given out!

Why email based enterprise collaboration is broken

By | Email Alternative, enterprise, Enterprise Collaboration, Kezmo, Knowledge Management, Near Real Time, Work Life Balance

email_is_brokenEmail collaboration is broken, still to this date a lot of companies base their online digital collaborations on email. Typically for external collaborations, but sometimes even for internal ones. Even if it’s not THE technology sponsored for that end it coexists with a number of email alternatives in the organization, and it usually works as the fallback enterprise collaboration technology.

The good things about email

While a lot of people have been prophesying it’s death the truth is that email has some very good points going for it. It definitely has some advantages, such as:

  • It’s simple and widely adopted. It’s a very basic paradigm based on the notion of sending, replying and forwarding messages. Additionally it’s among the most widely adopted technologies of the internet. Everyone has an email address. So there are network effects at work here, an example of a technology whose value increases with it’s rate of adoption, and in this case almost every internet user has adopted so go figure it’s value.
  • It’s reliable and relatively inexpensive. Email messages arrive regardless of the distance involved, and setting up a mail server is a very documented procedure. There are several open source, and off the shelf alternatives, both on premises, and on the cloud.
  • It’s an open garden. Provided you have someone’s email address you can message with him, you don´t have to provide further personal information, there are no registrations involved, no setups, no hassles. While there´s a dark side to this, for beginners and spreading adoption is great.
  • It enables work/life balanced time management. In terms of managing expectations for turn around times common network etiquette allows you to wait a few hours, or even days before replying an email. It’s not real time. Plus you can turn auto respond for vacations. Point being that from a work/life balance and time management perspective it allows for a much needed wiggle room to put work stuff on hold.

What’s broken about email collaboration?

Among email shortcomings when it comes to enterprise collaboration are:

  • SPAM. The same open garden quality mentioned above enables strangers to contact you for whatever reason, such as trying to sell you something. It’s like a cognitive tax you have to pay to sort through all the messages you get to filter and categorize. It’s such an issue that a whole industry of spam filters was born to attempt to fix this problem, but at it’s core is still present. Anyone can pass along your email address to another stranger allowing them to contact you without your consent.
  • Email is really a bad fit for conversation type of interactions. Particularly among several people. Before you know it you have tens of unread emails, some of them which are one liners, with “Me too” responses and it can take really a long time before you figure out where’s the substance, or agreements that were reached as part of the exchange. It’s just not a good medium for conversations, and that sucks because team collaboration is to a good extent a ongoing conversation.
  • You don’t have confirmation of delivery and read from the other part. Unless the recipient is kind enough to reply with some form of acknowledgment message, the sender does not know whether the message has been read or if has fallen through the cracks of spam. Sometimes in corporate scenarios it’s not just a nice to have feature, but an audit level required by the business process.
  • It really is horrible for team collaborations and document collaborations. For instance if several people have to collaborate on document, it’s normal for everyone to send their version of the modified document, sometimes including previous work from someone else, but sometimes not. Leading to a number of email threads all with attached versions of the document in question. It can quickly become an nightmare to determine what’s the latest version, or what are the differences between these versions to consolidate everyone’s work.
  • Turn around time is awful for remote teams. It’s not real time, or close to. In some contexts, specifically for remote teams that are not in a call conference that requires constant interactions, but they are working on the same thing. It’s good to be able to exchange perspectives, and shoot quick questions and get a yes or no answer within minutes, in “close to real time’ time frames.
  • No support for complex types. Everything is a message. Why typing content is important you may ask. Well, different types of content involve different presentations, and enable different behaviors, and actions. Different types enable different life cycles. For events you need a reminder and will probably want to see it in a calendar. For tasks you will want to see who it is assigned to, it’s due date, and will probably need to be able to mark them as completed. For purchase orders you will want to approve them or reject them, etc. A lot of vendors have implemented applications attempting to attach, or meta morph an email message into something else, and had to cope with the fact that at it’s core that remains an email message which you can reply and forward.
  • The inbox as a sink for everything. The email inbox as the sink where all content flows no matter it’s nature can be a problem. Even if you try to have different email accounts for different purposes, you can only separate things so far. In most companies you will only get one email account, which will act as an inbox of all work related communications. Jokes from your workmates, with me too one liners, with important client exchanges are all in the same place. If the amount of emails arriving is high, it is a matter of time before you miss an important message. Because the platform does not make it easy to separate the wheat from the chaff, to separate the signal from the noise.

What’s next for enterprise collaboration? There has to be a better way

Well collaboration in the workplace is changing. A number of new consumer technologies have appeared over the past years which have generated different use patterns. While email is not dead yet, young generations are less ready to write page long emails and more prone to have spontaneous chat interactions. It’s the facebook, whatsapp & snapchat generation.

There’s a new wave of business applications that attempt to address this challenge by leveraging a conversation centric paradigm for collaborations in the workplace. Among them applications such as HipChat, and Slack.

We are building an email alternative of our own design. It’s called Kezmo, and it’s designed to achieve the best of both worlds. Conversation based (near real time) interactions while enabling good expectation management of turn around times. For instance providing feedback on whether or not a message has been delivered and read. Allowing users to structure content with different types, enabling different displays and behaviors for them.

It will be launched in a private beta within days. Feel free to register in this link so that you receive an invitation and give it a try!.



Opportunities in the enterprise messaging and collaboration market segment

By | enterprise, Kezmo, Knowledge Management

After over a year of effort we are approaching the release date for our enterprise messaging and collaboration application, which we have named Kezmo (how and why that name could be the topic for a couple of posts on itself).

There are a number of reasons why we believe we may have something to add of value to the enterprise collaboration and content management market segment, among them our experience as consultants implementing SharePoint solutions for years, and later implementing leading mobile client for that platform.

The enterprise collaboration market is huge and is going through massive changes, which spans risks and opportunities. Some of the conceptual foundations we’ve been building on are the following:

  • Group chats are ubiquitous. Whatsapp has managed to change how the world communicates, it’s become a game changer. User experience expectations in the workplace are changing accordingly to their consumers day to day experience.
  • The group chat dynamic has been proven useful in the work environment. There are several high profile collaboration applications, Slack, and HipChat among them, that are making clear that the conversation centric collaboration model is here to stay.
  • The pendulum is swinging far to the chat side of things. Currently in most systems everything is a chat message which creates a number of challenges, such as: finding content, avoiding misunderstandings, staying up with the latest status of things.
  • Offline and nearby support is being overlooked in most collaboration solutions out there. Data entry and even collaboration capabilities without connectivity is key to a lot of business scenarios. The technology is slowly getting there for nearby networking.
  • There’s a backlash to the massive migration to the cloud based on security concerns. Corporations need more control over where and how their data is storaged. A cloud only application does not make the cut for big companies.
  • The information overload is such that we need new, more visual ways to navigate shared content.
  • Mobile has taken over the world. Enterprise information systems must be mobile first, and have mobile clients as first class citizens.

About a year ago with these ideas in mind we set out to build a state of the art real time messaging platform for the enterprise. We are about to launch it, initially in a invite only private beta. If you would like to try it feel free to subscribe.

We are looking forward to having you on board.