The Top Startups For Marketers At Tech Crunch Disrupt

San Francisco has long been a hotbed of innovation, with Tech Crunch Disrupt acting as the debutant rodeo for tomorrow’s celebrity entrepreneurs to emerge on their unicorns (Dropbox, Mint, Yammer, etc.)

With hundreds of new companies inhabiting Startup Alley, many launching for the first time, the experience can be overwhelming. It's difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Here are five companies that marketers should have on their radar, found at this week’s Disrupt.

Advertisers have been flocking to podcasts, paying healthy CPMs to leveraging the intimate power of voice. If Snapchat and radio had a baby, it would be Pundit. The app allows people to unleash their inner Oprah by enabling short-form podcasts between friends, celebrities and brands.

Elements like voice changers (think audio filters like “chipmunk”) allow producers to deliver fun, bite-sized messages and spark conversation. The opportunity for branded content includes custom filters, and brand-specific conversations, as well as more traditional elements like pre-roll messaging.


Crystal is the first virtual advisor for digital marketing. Don’t worry, the robots aren’t taking your jobs… not yet at least. It allows Web marketers to optimize their digital strategies and resources based on digital and social data analytics via an incredible and intuitive dashboard and, more uniquely, through voice.

The AI Crystal Advisor answers your questions in voice or writing through Natural Language Processing, enabling you to get information on your metrics but also advice on how to optimize your digital performance. The potential upside is that the more you ask it, the more it will learn your goals and preferences thanks to a custom-made artificial intelligence built on Google Cloud Platform.

I wonder how it “feels” about unreasonable deadlines for ROI?

Remember when AT&T asked us to “reach out and touch someone?” Well, Emerge is digitizing our sense of touch by using ultrasound tech to simulate the contour of an object. Shake hands with a new acquaintance, hold hands with a loved one, or touch and feel a product before you buy it. They are making virtual connection tangible. What’s most interesting is their ultrasound tech eliminates the need for gloves or other wearables to make this sensation a reality. Virtual high five!


Right in the heart of Startup Alley was a gorgeous display of what seemed like a next generation startup boasting the first vacation destination where you can live without limits. Westword is a meticulously crafted, artfully designed theme park offering an unparalleled, immersive world. The only catch, it is actually a stunt for HBO’s new "Westworld" starring Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris.

The show will dive into ethical questions around AI, as well as the opportunities and risks for all of the virtual realities we are racing to create. The number of people in line that had no idea this was a show promotion was staggering. Westworld is a prime example of how marketers can think differently when placing activations at venues other than SXSW and CES.


Breinify helps create personalized shopping experiences using DigitalDNA, which is the company's AI engine that measures interests and intent. By understanding each visitor as a unique snowflake, Breinify enables brands to deliver hyper-relevant creatives, messaging, and products, leading to over 25% conversion rates. Maybe the robots really are going to take our jobs.

The rest of Startup Alley was dominated by robots, AR, VR, AI, and some rather bizarre dating apps — all of which signify that we are looking to automate and enhance our lives in every conceivable way. These emerging opportunities and nascent technologies provide marketers unique tools to harness the power of what is next and to connect in new and memorable ways.

For today, the robots still work for us, so let’s make the most of it.


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