When was the last time someone disrupted the hot water heater? Isi Technologies presented a connected water heater that is redefining how the world will heat – and use – water, and saves on energy usage and oh, yes, money. Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson, who was one of the Battlefield judges, along with John Borthwick (Betaworks), Roelof Botha (Sequoia Capital), Chris Dixon (Andreessen Horowitz), Marissa Mayer (Yahoo), Brian Pokorny (SV Angel), was already texting wife Joanne Wilson from the stage to order one or two.
But what happens in the case of something like a Hurricane Sandy, asked John Borthwick, who was without electricity for several days. “You’re pretty much screwed, no?”
“Yeah, you’re pretty much screwed,” agreed founder Jerry Callahan, who mentioned that they are working on a solution for such a scenario. Disruption does sometimes does call for a bit of fine tuning, after all.
What do you think of a company that offers smaller retailers a price optimization platform, and a fighting chance to compete with larger, better tech-enabled companies, like Amazon. That’s Boomerang Commerce (the founders came from Amazon). “So, if every retailer used your technology, it would be no good to anyone, right?” asked Wilson. “And Amazon can’t buy you because they already do it.”
Always interesting to hear how a successful venture capitalist thinks, although he did add that he “thinks it’s great when software disrupts, and you’re disrupting pricing.”
ShowKit offers live help over mobile, and since mobile first is the mantra du jour, doesn’t it make sense to have a help line that’s optimized for mobile – and also works on mobile-to-web and mobile-to-mobile? Not easy to accomplish what this team has done.
“The makeup industry makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of bullshit,” said Grace Choi, whose Mink 3D printer allows you to print your own make up, thus potentially disrupting a $55B industry. It’s still early days. She just came up with the idea in January, and built the printer, which she demonstrated. It works, although she’s only skin-tested the results on herself.
Mimi is an app that deals with hearing loss, turning your smart phone into a hearing test – and something of a hearing aid. The app also helps you fine tune your hearing aid and fact for you: 75% of people who suffer from hearing loss are under 65, including Wilson, who pays a lot of attention to this space. “It’s a big market,” he agreed. “But it’s crowded.”
Last up was Vurb, a web and mobile contextual search engine that collects all the relevant information on one page, allowing you to search, browse, and share in one place. “I’ve been focused on this problem for years,” said Wilson. “This problem is a bitch, you won’t solve it, and it will kill you.”
Wilson may be right, but if it proves fatal at all, it’ll be a slow death, because this year’s Battlefield winner is… Vurb and their cadre of early stage investor that reads like a Who’s Who of Silicon Valley.
Honorable mention goes to Isi Technologies, who came in second, and we have a sneaking suspicion that they may have gotten Wilson’s vote.