News & Views

Contagious Picks / TechCrunch Disrupt London 2015

by Kate Hollowood

Before the whirlwind of Most Contagious, our week got off to an energising start as we attended TechCrunch Disrupt London 2015 at the Copper Box Arena in Hackney Wick. The mainstage showcased 14 startups competing for the coveted Disrupt Cup as well as a range of discussions including hyperlocality insights from Deliveroo founder William Shu, comments on gender equality from Hassle founder Alex Depledge and an almost-understandable panel debate about Blockchain. Meanwhile in the startup alley, entrepreneurs impressed guests with their elevator pitches and products. After two days of filling our eyeballs with new inventions and brains with buzzwords, here are our top picks. 

1. Jukedeck / AI music composer

Who couldn’t fall in love with a startup that ends their pitch with a rap?! But it wasn’t just the founder’s lyrical talents that helped Jukedeck win TechCrunch Disrupt London this year. The team of twelve musicians are solving the video production industry’s need for a better way of getting backing music. Trawling through stock audio libraries is tedious and expensive, and when creatives finally find the right (yet un-original) track, it needs to be manually edited in order to fit the video in question.

Jukedeck Make is an AI music composer that allows users to create a unique track in a matter of seconds that fits the length and mood of their video. The programme understands music theory and uses algorithms and machine learning to write new music note by note. ‘A lot of musical styles have huge similarities between them,’ said founder Ed Rex. ‘The basic structures span all genres. We’re trying to use that to our own advantage.’

The customer pays at point of download. Individual users get five free tracks a month and then pay $7 for every additional track – an offering that is 80% cheaper than the competition. We’ll rap to that.


2. Evogro / Vertical farm fridges 

While perusing the startup alley, chock-a-block with headsets, drones and other gadget-y delights, delegates were stopped in their tracks by a sudden flash of greenery. Evogro makes small scale vertical farms designed to be used by restaurant owners. Trays of herbs and salad leaves grow in a fridge-like structure equipped with LEDs. The sustainable model minimises waste of the highly perishable plants, as people need only pick what they eat. It also cuts out delivery emissions. High profile establishments including the Ritz already have one.


3. Max / Disruptive delivery

Startup Battlefield finalist Max gets our social purpose vote. The Lagos-based company has created a delivery service that could transform ecommerce in developing countries. Only 1% of Lagos’ $20bn retail industry is online. Clogged up with traffic, the city makes fast delivery impossible. Considering that 50% of online shoppers abandon their basket because they can’t get the product in time, the situation cuts into retailers’ profits. Max and its fleet of motorbike riding delivery men promise to get parcels from A to B in Lagos within three hours. So far, 100 online retailers have signed up and 100 transactions are happening a day.


4. Emotech / Emotionally intelligent robots

Emotech has created a personal assistant robot called Olly. The emotionally intelligent bot gets to know its owner over time and evolves its own personality accordingly. For example, the way Olly wakes someone in the morning will depend on their personality. A sensitive, emotional person might be woken up to the sound of their favourite music. Olly might then make a comment about the sunny weather and suggest eating breakfast on the terrace. Contrastingly, an ambitious, sporty person might get woken up half an hour early on a sunny day so that they can squeeze in a morning run. The startup’s mission is to improve the relationship between humans and technology by making interactions more emotional and humanlike. The company is preparing to launch its Kickstarter campaign next year.

5. MysteryVibe / Connected sex toys

MysteryVibe’s connected vibrator, called Crescendo, connects with an accompanying app containing a Spotify-like library of different pleasure experiences. Crescendo contains six motors when usual vibrators have one or two, allowing for a huge range of different pleasure options. In the future, users will be able to create and share their own experiences in the Vibe Store.