And the winner of Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2018 is… Legacy

Startups participating in the Startup Battlefield have all been hand-picked to participate in our highly competitive startup competition. They all presented in front of multiple groups of VCs and tech leaders serving as judges for a chance to win $50,000 and the coveted Disrupt Cup. After hours of deliberations, TechCrunch editors pored over the judges’ […]

At the very beginning, there were 13 startups. After two days of incredibly fierce competition, we now have a winner.

Startups participating in the Startup Battlefield have all been hand-picked to participate in our highly competitive startup competition. They all presented in front of multiple groups of VCs and tech leaders serving as judges for a chance to win $50,000 and the coveted Disrupt Cup.

After hours of deliberations, TechCrunch editors pored over the judges’ notes and narrowed the list down to five finalists: Imago AI, Kalepso, Legacy, Polyteia and Spike.

These startups made their way to the finale to demo in front of our final panel of judges, which included: Sophia Bendz (Atomico), Niko Bonatsos (General Catalyst), Luciana Luxiandru (Accel), Ida Tin (Clue), Matt Turck (FirstMark Capital) and Matthew Panzarino (TechCrunch).

And now, meet the Startup Battlefield winner of TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018.

Winner: Legacy

Legacy is tackling an interesting problem: the reduction of sperm motility as we age. By freezing men’s sperm, this Swiss-based company promises to keep our boys safe and potent as we get older, a consideration that many find vital as we marry and have kids later.

Read more about Legacy in our separate post.

Runner-Up: Imago AI

Imago AI is applying AI to help feed the world’s growing population by increasing crop yields and reducing food waste. To accomplish this, it’s using computer vision and machine learning technology to fully automate the laborious task of measuring crop output and quality.

Read more about Imago AI in our separate post.

Looking back at Readdle’s journey from zero to hero

Readdle launched its first app on the App Store ten years ago and recently celebrated 100 million downloads. Readdle’s Denys Zhadanov came to TechCrunch Disrupt to look back at the past ten years. “I think it’s about timing. Back in 2007 when the iPhone was launched for the first time, there was no app or […]

Readdle launched its first app on the App Store ten years ago and recently celebrated 100 million downloads. Readdle’s Denys Zhadanov came to TechCrunch Disrupt to look back at the past ten years.

“I think it's about timing. Back in 2007 when the iPhone was launched for the first time, there was no app or no App Store,” Zhadanov said. “And then we got a call from Apple that said: ‘Hey guys, we're launching the App Store.’”

One of the reasons why Readdle ended up on Apple’s radar is that they started working on a solution to read books and documents even before the App Store. It was a web app and it was already listed on Apple’s website.

This web app alone attracted 60,000 users — again, that was before the App Store and with a small iPhone install base.

Today, Readdle has eight productivity apps. If you have an iPhone, chances are you’re using some of them, such as Scanner Pro, Documents, PDF Expert and Spark.

And it says a lot about Readdle’s skills. When you’re building productivity apps, you’re competing with built-in apps. There’s already a calendar app and an email app on your iPhone when you first set it up.

“The way we look at this, if our work can inspire one of the biggest companies to move into this area, we're doing something right,” Zhadanov said. “But we have to be very fast and move and run faster because there is no way you can compete with giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft.”

What’s next for Readdle now? The company has received acquisition offers in the past. “We've had offers from different partners but we never discuss and disclose publicly either these talks or our revenues because we're still private,” Zhadanov said.

But it doesn’t mean that Readdle is standing still. When Readdle released Spark four years ago, it was a free app from day one. Spark now has 500,000 daily active users.

“Now we're at this stage where we are trying to accomplish a much bigger challenge than ever before, which is reinventing email,” Zhadanov said.

You can now use Spark to share inboxes with your team. It lets you comment on an email thread, assign emails to team members and more. If you want to unlock all the collaborative features, you need to pay a premium subscription.

It’s still the very beginning of the team product. “I think we have thousands of teams but only tens or hundreds are paying,” Zhadanov said.

Eventually, Readdle could end up raising money to iterate faster — maybe, maybe not. “I'm not saying we need [to raise money ]. I'm saying we might raise money next year to scale faster,” Zhadanov said.

Being a bootstrapped company has some great advantages for now. Readdle doesn’t feel any pressure from investors saying that they need to launch something now. The company can spend more time refining products.

Finally, TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden asked about the political climate in Ukraine. A few days ago, a presidential decree introduced martial law in some parts of Ukraine due to tensions with Russia.

“We're trying not to comment on political issues as well. But, right now, we're not affected as a company, as a business,” Zhadanov said. "I think the perception from outside might be affected.”

According to him, Readdle has already thought about “plan B and plan C” in case it gets worse.

V2X Network gives developers the keys to in-vehicle data

Data is king. But if there isn’t a way to capture, sort and use it, then there it sits — an untapped resource. V2X Network, a German-based startup presenting onstage Thursday during Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, sees opportunity in all the data produced in the modern car. And it’s a hefty sum. A […]

Data is king. But if there isn’t a way to capture, sort and use it, then there it sits — an untapped resource.

V2X Network, a German-based startup presenting onstage Thursday during Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, sees opportunity in all the data produced in the modern car. And it’s a hefty sum. A fully connected and automated car loaded with sensors can produce up to 4 terabytes of data per day, the company says. As V2X Network puts it, “cars have basically become rolling data servers.”

This data can provide all kinds of insights, such as driving and road conditions and the locations of charging and fuel stations. Data produced from vehicles, if properly captured and organized, could be used to deliver services to consumers, such as helping to improve driving behavior or handing the information to city planners to better understand traffic patterns.

This isn’t a new opportunity. (After all, Intel calls data the new oil.) And V2X Network is not the first (or the last) company to see gold in the hills of data generated by connected vehicles.

V2X Network, which was founded earlier this year, is taking a carrot-first and blockchain-protected approach. The company, founded by CEO Ahsan Shamim, COO Holger Philipp and CTO Shumail Mohyuddin, has developed what it describes as a decentralized incentivized platform that gives developers access to in-vehicle data, which can be turned into a variety of different apps.

But there’s a moat, and it’s the driver. V2X Network doesn’t allow any application developer to access the data without the driver’s consent, and that can always be revoked, the company’s founders told TechCrunch. 

v2x network

Here’s how the founders, who have backgrounds in automotive and computer science, envision the system will work.

Giving developers access to in-vehicle data so they can turn it into all kinds of apps delivered to cities, automakers and drivers sounds like a winning idea. The problem is accessing that data. Why would anyone just give it away? And why would automakers hand it over?

V2X Network is taking a dual approach to getting access to that valuable data. The company is collaborating with automakers for direct access. (V2X Network couldn’t say who they were working with; only that they’re starting to work with two OEMs on a proof of concept basis.) The second data source is straight from the car owner through an OBD-II dongle solution used to collect data on older vehicles. A prototype of the V2X Network dongle, a blockchain node that starts sharing information with V2X Network once it’s plugged in, was shown at Disrupt Berlin.  

Once the data is collected, it’s made available to developers who use it to create valuable apps that could be used by drivers, cities and automakers, among others.

Incentivizing the car owner for producing the data lies at the center of the platform. V2X Network isn’t buying the data from the car owner. Instead, the company proposes charging data access fees from the service providers and sharing part of the revenue with the car owners or manufacturers.

The company sees a variety of possible applications developed from the data, from fleet management services and vehicle tracking to traffic congestion control, smart parking and driver coaching.

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Watch Disrupt Berlin Day One live right here!

Disrupt Berlin Day 1 starts now, and we have quite a show in store for you. We’ll kick the day off with an interview with Roborace’s Lucas di Grassi, and follow it up with conversations with speakers, including Localglobe’s Saul Klein, Lime’s Caen Contee, Taxify’s Markus Villig and Via’s Daniel Ramot. Then we’ll head into […]

Disrupt Berlin Day 1 starts now, and we have quite a show in store for you.

We’ll kick the day off with an interview with Roborace’s Lucas di Grassi, and follow it up with conversations with speakers, including Localglobe’s Saul Klein, Lime’s Caen Contee, Taxify’s Markus Villig and Via’s Daniel Ramot.

Then we’ll head into the Startup Battlefield, with 12 startups launching on the Disrupt stage and vying for a chance to win US$50,000, the Disrupt Cup and lifelong glory.

You can catch the whole thing live right here, so sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

EnduroSat CEO to talk about making satellites more affordable at Disrupt Berlin

It has never been easier to launch a satellite into space. But EnduroSat wants to make it even easier by making CubeSats more affordable thanks to a unique platform. That’s why I’m excited to announce that EnduroSat CEO Raycho Raychev is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin to talk about his platform. Many industries have gone […]

It has never been easier to launch a satellite into space. But EnduroSat wants to make it even easier by making CubeSats more affordable thanks to a unique platform. That’s why I’m excited to announce that EnduroSat CEO Raycho Raychev is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin to talk about his platform.

Many industries have gone through a standardization revolution. Decades ago, shipping stuff from one continent to another was costly because it was a manual process. Exporters now put everything into containers so that you can carry them seamlessly from a port to a cargo ship, a train or a truck.

Similarly, it became much easier to create a new data center thanks to standardized server racks. You can fit servers, routers, or disk arrays into a metal frames, and line all the server racks in a warehouse.

The same is happening with satellites. Thanks to CubeSats, you get to choose the list of components that you want to put in your satellite and they’ll all fit nicely in a cubical package.

EnduroSat is working on next-generation CubeSats. You first choose the frame of your CubeSat. You can then buy different modules to build the perfect satellite for your use case.

The company now has over 30 clients and the EnduroSat One is currently flying above our heads. If you want to hear Raychev tell you more about what they’ve been working on, you should come to Disrupt Berlin. The conference will take place on November 29-30 and you can buy your ticket right now.

In addition to fireside chats and panels, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the highly coveted Battlefield cup.

Raycho Raychev

CEO, EnduroSat

Raycho Raychev works in the field of space science, tech and business.

He founded EnduroSat – a fast-growing satellite company with unique market approach in the space sector. Prior to the company Raycho founded massive space educational platform – Spaceport and practice-oriented space course – Space Challenges.

His education includes Master of Science from International Space University and Innovation and Growth Program from Stanford University and Endeavor.

Discover the next messaging giant at Disrupt Berlin

Truecaller may already be a familiar name, but many of you probably don’t know that it’s slowly becoming a significant messaging app. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Truecaller co-founder and CEO Alan Mamedi will join us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin. Truecaller first started as a call screening app. Some countries are more affected […]

Truecaller may already be a familiar name, but many of you probably don’t know that it’s slowly becoming a significant messaging app. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Truecaller co-founder and CEO Alan Mamedi will join us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

Truecaller first started as a call screening app. Some countries are more affected than others. But it’s clear that text and call spam is the most intrusive form of spam.

The Swedish company then leveraged this user base to quietly turn the app into a full-fledged messaging app with one focus in particular — India.

With the acquisition of Chillr, the company shows that it wants to recreate a sort of WeChat for India. The company launched payment features — Truecaller Pay lets you pay other Truecaller users as well as pay your bills.

Eventually, Truecaller wants to open up its platform to third-party services. Back in April, the company reported that it had 100 million daily active users.

If you’re impressed by Truecaller’s growth strategy, you should buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion and many others. The conference will take place on November 29-30.

In addition to fireside chats and panels, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the highly coveted Battlefield cup.

Alan Mamedi

CEO & Co-founder, Truecaller

Alan Mamedi is the CEO and Co-founder of Truecaller. Truecaller is one of the leading communication apps in the world with services in messaging, payment, caller ID, spam detection, dialer functionalities, and has more than 300 million users globally. In this position, Alan focuses on product development and innovation, and charting the strategic roadmap for the company’s success. To date, Truecaller has raised 80 million USD from Sequoia Capital, Atomico, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Let’s take off with the European Space Agency at Disrupt Berlin

A few years ago, nobody would have bet that space exploration would become so exciting again. But everybody is talking about space again, from Mars to satellites, launchers and observation. That’s why we invited Frank Salzgeber from the European Space Agency to talk at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin. The European Space Agency needs little introduction. It […]

A few years ago, nobody would have bet that space exploration would become so exciting again. But everybody is talking about space again, from Mars to satellites, launchers and observation. That’s why we invited Frank Salzgeber from the European Space Agency to talk at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

The European Space Agency needs little introduction. It has been one of the earliest and most successful European programs with 22 member states and many key innovations. The agency participates in the International Space Station program, is in charge of unmanned exploration missions on multiple planets and more.

The ESA also develops its own launcher with Arianespace and maintains a spaceport at Kourou. Ariane 5 recently celebrated its 100th launch, and I still have vivid memories of the first flight when I was a kid.

Ariane 6 is right around the corner with a test flight scheduled for 2020. It’ll be much more efficient than Ariane 5 at half the cost. But Arianespace is still facing competition from smaller launchers, such as the SpaceX Falcon 9 and the Chinese Long March 3B. Now that satellites are getting smaller and smaller, cost is becoming increasingly important compared capacity.

And if you think we shouldn’t forget about human space flights, Salzgeber agrees with you. He’s been defending human exploration at the ESA and keeps saying that “a society that stops exploring stops progressing.”

If you’re also fascinated by space innovation, you should buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion and many others. The conference will take place on November 29-30.

In addition to fireside chats and panels, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the highly coveted Battlefield cup.

Frank Salzgeber

Head of Technology Transfer and Business Incubation Office, European Space Agency (ESA)

Mr Frank M. Salzgeber is the Head of the Technology Transfer and Business Incubation Office at the European Space Agency (ESA). Prior this post he was the Head of Commercial Development in the European Astronaut Department of the Directorate of Human Spaceflight Microgravity and Exploration at the European Space Agency.

Prior to joining ESA, Frank held the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO and CFO) at an IT start-up headquartered in Munich, Germany, between 2000 and 2003, which he merged with CANCOM SA. Frank also spent seven years at Apple Computer (1993 – 2000) initially as an account manager and then as a sales manager, covering Central Europe and being positioned in the US and Czech Republic.

Being genuinely passionate about the importance of human space flight and the European Space Programme, Frank’s believes that ‘a society that stops exploring stops progressing’.

Lizzie Chapman to talk about building a fintech startup in India at Disrupt Berlin

Fintech startups are growing rapidly in Europe. But it doesn’t mean that the fintech revolution is limited to Europe. That’s why I’m glad to announce that Lizzie Chapman from ZestMoney is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin to talk about her unique Indian startup. ZestMoney wants to make it easier to lend money to buy goods […]

Fintech startups are growing rapidly in Europe. But it doesn’t mean that the fintech revolution is limited to Europe. That’s why I’m glad to announce that Lizzie Chapman from ZestMoney is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin to talk about her unique Indian startup.

ZestMoney wants to make it easier to lend money to buy goods online. In the U.S., the vast majority of people have a credit card and a credit score. But India is a different market, and ZestMoney is trying to replace the credit card altogether.

When you shop on an e-commerce website in India, such as Amazon or Flipkart, you can get a voucher on ZestMoney’s website to check out on those websites. You’ll then pay back this voucher with monthly installments. In some cases, interests are refunded as cashback.

You don’t need to get a credit card to open a ZestMoney account. After opening an account, your EMI credit limit is shared across all ZestMoney partners.

Some websites feature a deeper integration with ZestMoney. For instance, on Xiaomi’s website, you can pay your phone in multiple installments using Mi Finance. Behind the scene, ZestMoney powers this service.

This is an interesting time for ZestMoney as the company is facing increased competition. Amazon just launched EMI options for Amazon Pay in India. You can now take a loan directly on Amazon’s checkout page.

Chapman is also an interesting British entrepreneur. As TechCrunch’s Jon Russell wrote, she moved to India in 2011 to work for payday loan startup Wonga’s Indian division. Years later, even though Wonga didn’t work out, she’s still betting on India.

If you want to hear Chapman tell you more about what she’s been working on, you should come to Disrupt Berlin. The conference will take place on November 29-30 and you can buy your ticket right now.

In addition to fireside chats and panels, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the highly coveted Battlefield cup.

Lizzie Chapman

CEO & Co-founder, ZestMoney

Lizzie Chapman is the co-founder and CEO of ZestMoney, FinTech startup of 2017. Zestmoney is India's largest digital lending platform that introduced the concept of cardless EMI to make life more affordable in India.

Lizzie is a leading figure in the digital lending landscape of India since 2011 when she moved from UK to spearhead the India operations for digital lender Wonga.com. In 2013, she joined Development Bank of Singapore to help launch ‘digibank’ – mobile-only virtual bank of India. Her passion about the potential of technology to disrupt the delivery of financial services prompted Lizzie and her co-founders to start ZestMoney. She was selected as FinTech Woman of 2017.

A CFA Charterholder and BSc from Edinburgh University, Lizzie started her career at Goldman Sachs in equity research and asset management. She then became an investor for The Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest endowments, focused on financial services and Indian investments. She is an Investment Committee member of the early stage fund India Quotient and sits on the board of IndiaMart – India's leading SME marketplace and classified site.

Other than working extensively on understanding Indian consumer behavior and building superior credit products, Lizzie is a mother and a marathon runner. She was one of three runners from India to complete the 42.2 kms Antarctic Ice Marathon in 2011.

Ole Harms to talk about Moia’s mobility bet at Disrupt Berlin

Volkswagen Group wants to reinvent itself in the age of connected and electric vehicles. And it starts with Volkswagen’s Moia, a brand new mobility brand with services and vehicles built for the cities of tomorrow. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Moia CEO Ole Harms is joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin. Volkswagen has […]

Volkswagen Group wants to reinvent itself in the age of connected and electric vehicles. And it starts with Volkswagen’s Moia, a brand new mobility brand with services and vehicles built for the cities of tomorrow. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Moia CEO Ole Harms is joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

Volkswagen has been covering all bases with Moia. Last year at Disrupt Berlin, the company unveiled an all-electric rideshare vehicle. Moia has been piloting this new vehicle in Hamburg. In addition to six individual seats, the car features USB ports, individual lights, Wi-Fi and storage space at the front.

In other words, this is the minibus of the future. With a range of 186 miles, it represents a viable alternative to traditional vehicles. It isn’t a self-driving vehicle as Volkswagen wants to put this model on the road right now.

In addition to this hardware strategy, Moia is releasing its own mobility service called… Moia. You can already download the app and order a ride in Hanover. It works pretty much like Uber and all the ride-hailing services out there. But Moia wants to own the software platform.

If you want to hear more about Volkswagen’s strategy to disrupt mobility before the company gets disrupted, grab your Disrupt tickets right now. The conference will take place on November 29-30.

In addition to fireside chats and panels, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the highly coveted Battlefield cup.

Ole Harms

CEO, MOIA

Ole Harms (43) has been CEO of MOIA since December 2016. After working as a strategy consultant at Capgemini, Harms joined Volkswagen Consulting in 2008. As head of the Sales and Marketing division, he advised Volkswagen's top management. In 2012, he took over as Head of New Business Models and Performance.

From 2014 to January 2016 he was Executive Director and Head of New Business Models & Mobility Services. There he initiated the mobility partnership with the city of Hamburg and was responsible for the conception and development of MOIA. Ole Harms lives in Hannover and Berlin.

Robby Stein to talk about Instagram beyond Systrom at Disrupt Berlin

Last month, Instagram co-founders CEO Kevin Systrom and CTO Mike Krieger announced that they would be leaving Instagram and Facebook. All eyes are now on Instagram to figure out what’s going to happen to the photo and video app. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Instagram Product Director Robby Stein is joining us at […]

Last month, Instagram co-founders CEO Kevin Systrom and CTO Mike Krieger announced that they would be leaving Instagram and Facebook. All eyes are now on Instagram to figure out what’s going to happen to the photo and video app. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Instagram Product Director Robby Stein is joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

Instagram is Facebook’s next big bet. Facebook’s growth has slowed down, which puts even more pressure on Instagram. Compared to Facebook, Instagram is still a relatively young platform. More and more people are joining Instagram and stories are boosting engagement.

Facebook currently has 2.23 billion monthly users while Instagram has 1 billion users. Many people have an active account on both platforms. But does Instagram have what it takes to reach Facebook’s scale?

When it comes to product, Instagram has relentlessly released new features over the past few years. Stories have become a creative playground, stars can share longer videos on IGTV and you can now start group video chats from the app.

It’s impressive to see that such a big platform keeps releasing radical changes that will affect over a billion users. Instagram has been moving incredibly fast. And it’s been key when it comes to fostering growth.

Stein will tell us more about Instagram’s product design strategy and what’s coming up. It’s always interesting to hear the perspective of an insider to analyze product decisions and discuss them.

Before joining Instagram, he was the co-founder and CEO of Stamped, which was acquired by Yahoo back in 2012. Stein started his career at Google. In a short period of time, he managed to work for Google, Facebook and Yahoo, and he also founded his own startup. Quite an impressive resume.

And if you want to hear what it feels like to work for Instagram at a pivotal moment, you should come to Disrupt Berlin. The conference will take place on November 29-30 and you can buy your ticket right now.

In addition to fireside chats and panels, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the highly coveted Battlefield cup.

Robby Stein

Product Director, Instagram

Robby Stein is Product Director at Instagram, where he leads the consumer product team for sharing, which includes Stories, Feed, Live and Direct Messaging. Previously he was the Co-Founder and CEO of Stamped, which was acquired by Yahoo in 2012. At Yahoo, Robby led mobile video products focused around recommended content. He started his career at Google, where he worked to bring new features to market for Gmail and Ad Exchange. He has been recognized on the Forbes 30 under 30 and graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University.