TechCrunch Disrupt 2014: Top Startups & Trends from Marketing Innovation Leaders on KITE

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 2.38.01 PMKITE, along with many of marketing and technology’s leaders, attended TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco this month. During that week, the KITE platform empowered its influential crowd of brands, agencies and KITE analysts to record their impressions at the show or attend virtually, creating a real-time leaderboard of the participating companies.

While some of the standouts aligned with Disrupt’s choices, KITE identified a few powerful outliers and several distinct trends:

Trends that have reached critical mass:

  1. Rapid maturity of Hardware and IoT offerings, empowered by fast prototyping
  2. Geographic diversity beyond Silicon Valley

Top 5 Disrupt Startup Battlefield Companies on KITE:

  1. Runner-up Shipstr, which simplifies freight shipping
  2. Palate Home’s iPad-controlled Smart Grill
  3. Partpic’s visual search for replacement parts
  4. Xendo’s cloud search for business
  5. Disrupt winner Alfred’s butler-type service for groceries, home cleaning and more

Trend 1: Hardware and IoT Empowered by Fast Prototyping

The hardware space continues to grow up. From health wearables to the connected kitchen, startups are looking to apply technology to new consumer and business problems in the physical world.

Over 30% of the startups pitching on the Disrupt stage (8 of 26) showed off sophisticated hardware, including 2 of the 6 finalists: Vinli with its connected-car device and Stack with Alba, its responsive lightbulb. Last year, only 10% of Battlefield companies (3 of 29) had a hardware component.

On day three of Disrupt, Startup Alley was transformed into “Hardware Alley” for the third year in a row, this time featuring 52 companies. We counted 11 connected-homecompanies and 7 connected-car companies — over ⅓ of the total — and these startups attracted the largest crowds.

The rapid growth of hardware offerings is being largely enabled by easier prototyping, thanks to tools like 3D printing, as well as Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards, says PCH International founder and CEO Liam Casey. His company has deep experience in hardware product development for major consumer electronics brands and now runs the hardware accelerator, Highway 1.

Casey noted at Disrupt, “Everyone says there’s a renaissance in manufacturing. We actually think there’s a renaissance in prototyping… That prototyping generates a huge amount of energy and creativity around physical goods.”


Trend 2: Disrupt Rewards Geographic Diversity Beyond Silicon Valley

Many of the top startups participating in Disrupt have their headquarters outside of the Bay Area, including overall winner Alfred and two of the other six Startup Battlefield finalists:

  • PartPic: visual search for replacement parts (Atlanta)
  • Vinli: connected car platform (Dallas)

It’s worth noting that the three non-Valley finalists made up half of the group this year, up from two of the six finalists in 2013, neither of which won or was runner-up.

Bolstering the trend was Dallas-based tech investor (and Mavericks owner) Mark Cuban, who discussed his well-known interest in investing in companies outside of California. “There are just as many smart people and business opportunities outside the Valley as there are inside,” he said in his Disrupt interview (watch that clip).



The first users of KITE are innovation leaders from Fortune 100 brands, agencies and media companies. Here are the companies they chose as the best of this year’s Disrupt entrants.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 12.37.24 PM

Shipstr is efficiently streamlining the commercial shipping industry through a cloud-based platform. Helping to replace outdated shipping brokers.

Good for: shipping and logistics, multinational retail brands

Startup Battlefield Place: Runner-Up



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Palate Home helps people create amazing meals at home through a portfolio of connected cooking devices. The Palate Smart Grill is a precision-temperature electric grill controlled with an iPad.

Good for: CPG and electronics brands

Startup Battlefield Place: Participant



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Partpic allows users to save time and money searching for replacement maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) parts. Partpic magically matches a user-generated image of a part with that part and its associated specifications.

Good for: auto and hardware retail brands

Startup Battlefield Place: Finalist


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Xendo simplifies access to knowledge and the knowledgable. Xendo’s Enterprise product machine-generates a company-wide knowledge graph that helps people identify and connect with experts across their organization.

Good for: Multinational brands, distributed teams, multidisciplinary corporations

Startup Battlefield Place: Participant


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Alfred Club is the first service layer on the shared economy that manages your routine across multiple on-demand and local services (e.g. Handybook, Instacart, and the local dry cleaner). Members build a subscription to make their routine automatic, letting Alfred seamlessly coordinate services in their home, so they come home happy.

Good for: CPG and beverage brands

Startup Battlefield Place: Winner



KITE’S Top 5 Startup Alley Companies

Hundreds of startups showed off their products on Disrupt’s exhibition floor each day of the event. KITE users’ favorites from Startup Alley reflect both the hardware and geographic diversity trends.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 12.35.09 PM is a telematics company offering leading cloud-based technologies for cars, enabling real-time communication with smart phone apps for consumers, service providers, and automotive retailers.

Good for: automotive brands, consumer electronics brands



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Donde is a mobile locator service with tools that connect marketers with their website visitors to drive retail sales. Marketers can create powerful localized lead generation with geo-targeted landing pages and creatives.

Good for: CPG, retail and beverage brands


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SKULLY has developed the most advanced technology ever applied to a motorcycle helmet. The end result is a carefully optimized helmet for motorcyclists that delivers an unparalleled riding experience. Once you try it, you will never again want to ride without a SKULLY.

Good for: Automotive partnerships, Geolocation/mapping



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iTagged enables users to capture, share and discover the world around them. The app uses augmented reality combined with location based services, image capturing and social sharing to digitize real world experiences.

Good for: CPG, retail and beverage brands




Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 1.38.12 PM

Aivo develops virtual customer service agents that interpret & respond to written client questions across diverse digital channels. Its first product is Agentbot, an automatic service solution that intelligently recognizes, interprets and responds to clients´ questions instantly on various digital channels.

Good for: retail and ecommece brands with an online presence

These smartly crowdsourced lists are just part of the intelligent startup analysis KITE provides its brand and agency clients. Contact us to learn how you can start benefiting from our platform.

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