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Ask HN: Is it worth being in TechCrunch “Startup Alley”?
62 points by fiokoden on Oct 1, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments
edit: Judging from the lack of definitively positive about Startup Alley, maybe TechCrunch needs to make it more valuable somehow to participants?



I participated in the Startup Alley 3 times and in Battlefield once. Here is my take:

- Battlefield gives you great exposure to investors and gives you some "validation" in their eyes. It is mostly true for noname VCs. If you network well, you will get some good connections out of it. That being said, it will not make your company. Even if it might seem so for a bit.

- Startup Alley is a complete waste of time, unless you sell to other startups. If you are starting something like Twilio, you will get plenty of early adopters in a few days. Otherwise, there is no real exposure, no traffic, no VCs, and almost no business partners. TechCrunch loves to hype it up because they are making $1.7K on each booth. If you are not sure why you want to participate, don't. Stay at the office and double down on your product and customers. YOu are better off spending your money on youtube influencers or what have you.


Agree - startup alley is not the place to meet (non startup) customers.

I have been to Startup Alley once with my previous company. We managed to get exactly 0 new customers out of it. So on this point, totally agree with you. I did not expect tons of new business, but not getting a single new customer was disappointing, especially since the product sold well otherwise.

However, I got a surprising amount of good discussions out of it, both at the booth and over lunch. And I had fun. So overall, it was worth the price if you factor in the inspirational component.


> because they are making $1.7K on each booth.

Really? How many booths are they selling? That's a pretty small ticket price all things considered.


The startups technically pay to be part of the entertainment program

The value is in corporates buying tickets


It might be free now.... I seem to recall reading somewhere.


It's actually $1995 if you actually pay for it: https://techcrunch.com/event-info/disrupt-sf-2017/startup-al...

They heavily discount it a month in advance and there is a number of way to get in for free. But one would have to hustle .


Why no business partners? Sounds like an ideal place for biz dev. If not, than the startups there are not thinking strategically. The little guys got to band together to uproot the big dudes.


Hey it's John Biggs kind of sort of from TechCrunch. I think what you've seen here is a good assessment of why you want to go. It's great for connections - I try to walk the Alley daily to see what cool stuff is there - and I've met people who have signed deals in the side rooms. That said you make out of it what you put in and it all depends on your product or company.

Want to know what I think it's good for? It puts you in the show, so to speak. I've been over a hundred startup events and I think TC's is the best primarily because of the people you meet and the ability to interact with other startups. It helps you place yourself in the firmament of startups and figure out where to go next.

I'm a founder and I wouldn't want to launch anywhere else. I'm biased to a fault but that's the truth.


I wonder if techcrunch could do more somehow to connect Startup Alley participants to its online traffic flow. No idea how, just germ of an idea.


email me at john@techcrunch if you have any questions.


Earlier this year, we were in the Alley and also participated in Battlefield. I would say it's worth it because it gives exposure to your start up.

However, techcrunch is not all it is said to be. It is much of a self congratulatory Enterprise. A lot of people that came to our booth were other start ups trying to find new customers. The amount of web traffic we received was dismal, compared to that famous cloudflare article.

In the end any advertising is better then no advertising. plus it helps you come up with a one liner that describe what your startup is and does.

If you want to read the whole experience: https://idiallo.com/blog/renly-techrunch-disrupt-ny-2017


I read your blog post nice read. With respect I suggest your product is too narrow.... space in salons is a very small target user base. I'm not surprised you didn't get much traffic or sign ups from SU Battlefield.... probably no one watching owns a salon or is a beautician.

Humble suggestion is to pivot to a new or revised idea.

How is your traction right now?


Thanks for reading. Actually since then there has been greater traction. The low traffic however wasn't just us. Live video showed a very low number of viewers (never more then 100).

Also we are adding verticals as the we see the demand increase. We started with fitness, dental, office and now we are seeing more and more people asking for generic spaces. So this is our next goal, renting any sort of space possible.


What do you mean about cloud flare article?


Oops, I forgot to include the link to cloudflare:

https://blog.cloudflare.com/what-its-like-to-launch-at-techc...


Context: I have been to Techcrunch Disrupt a few times (free both times) and have friends whose companies were in startup alley.

The answer to this is relative to the time and cost inputs. If you are a small company and bootstrapping, then no, it's unlikely to be worth it. Better to skip the table and just hustle to meet press/investors/other startups, since $2k can go a long way elsewhere.

My advice is to go to the hackathon the weekend before and build "something" with your cofounder (presuming you have one). This should* get you two free tickets to the conference.

Someone else here mentioned that if you sell to startups it might be worth it - I'd probably agree with that as an exception if you aren't already based in the Bay Area.

* You would have to confirm that Techcrunch are still offering this. They're usually pretty quiet about it (for obvious reasons) but I've used this method both times I went (for free).


I also got in twice through the Hackathon. You have to end at the top 10 to get free tickets to the event.


It was marginally worth it for my company, albeit it was free and it was..seven years ago now.

I met at least two very important people while there, one of which ended up investing into our seed round and the other who ended up introducing us to the lead of said round.

My general advice is that the Alley is pretty much what it sounds like, and the attendant quality of other companies there with you will be low. It's on you to get out there and network; just standing by your kiosk will do absolutely nothing for you.


What startup was it?


If you think about it like a high ticket networking event or a business conference then it can be.

If you show up and expect to get rich and famous by standing next to a table, then you'll be disappointed.


Dunno about that. If you work each day in any random coffee shop in SV -- well, maybe not random, but one of the popular ones -- you'll run into people working on some exciting tech. I don't think most of the country is like that.


> "...exciting tech"

That's debatable. Here are some of the Startup Alley companies:

- Stemless Co (buying weed)

- Mycroft AI (another freaking voice assistant...with AI)

- Topology Eyewear (custom glasses using 3D face models)

- Reely (Sports hightlights...with AI)

- WeTravel (disrupting the dead travel planner industry)

- Teuko (lunchboxes and tech?)

- Switchit (uh...business cards)

- GamerLink (Facebook, but for gamers)

https://techcrunch.com/event-info/disrupt-sf-2017/startup-al...


It's like something out of Silicon Valley.

> If you pack lunch boxes, Teuko was made for you. We connect lunchbox makers and enhance their lunch packing experience. Teuko is the online community for lunchbox makers. Join us.

It contains 0 lunchbox content before signing in.


Something u can build in a coffee shop with your computer doesn't sound exciting enough to me. Maybe it was exciting 10 years ago, but building a website/app/service is commodity now, it is not special at all.


Not unless your product or service is specifically for other early stage startups. I brought a booth one time an it was a complete waste of money.


My company participated in the Battlefield and had a space in the Alley. You do get extra attention if you also participated in Battlefield but the Startup Alley by itself is not worth it. It's complicated and exhausting to stand there for the length of the event and it's definitely the most inefficient way to get tractiton.


Me and my co-founder refined our pitching skills somewhat. Overall I wouldn't say it's worth it.


It depends. It worked for Pied Piper.




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