From over 500 companies, the competition for the lastest Disrupt was whittled down to 17 start-ups who got the honor to present on stage at at the first TechCrunch Disrupt to take place outside of U.S. soil. Those 17 startups became 6 after just one day. The 17 that initially presented ran the gamut of entertaining to confusing, but the last 6 all had something in common – monetization of their product seemed possible.
Let’s recap the 6 start-ups that made it to the final stage:
1. UnitedStyles (http://www.unitedstyles.com)
Based in Shanghai, Xander, co-founder of UnitedStyles lets you design and customize your own fashion according to style, print, and color. It does not matter if you are not a skilled fashion designer, because they intend to roll-out crowd-sourcing features in future. Through the site, you can have the apparel custom made and sent right to your doorstep. Together with MadeToFitMe, it is a dream come true for all woman out there!
2. TouchPal (http://www.touchpal.com)
This start-up introduces TouchPal Contacts+ to re-invent your phone address book. Its cross-platform capability allows you to know the availability of the contacts on your phone simply by marking them. Although not strong on innovation and creativity, this simple and convenient application will definitely have lots of users.
3. OrderWithMe (http://www.orderwithme.com)
Having just graduated from Chinaccelerator, this start-up implements Online Trade 2.0. Doing away with layers of middlemen, linking factories in China directly with retailers abroad, and allowing small businesses to buy in bulk helps widen the profit margin extensively. Trustworthy suppliers in China and overseas retailers rejoice!
4. Moglue (http://www.moglue.com)
Like its tagline says, Moglue allows parents, teachers, and other users to create simple e-books which children can play and interact with to aid in their education. Previously from G-Starup at GMIC 2011, the platform has grown to allow more interaction and even simple games. Also, with one-click publishing to both iOS and Android app, this gives educators an addition source of income.
5. Anquanbao (安全宝) (http://www.anquanbao.com)
An Innovation Works incubatee, Anquanbao used the mishap of 12 Girls Band (女子十二乐坊) to describe how their product works and how it can protect all websites from malicious acts and hacks through diverting the attacks to a decoy. Simple, yet out of the box. To add to the benefits, Anquanbao optimizes the websites to load faster.
6. 8 Securities (http://www.8securities.com)
Integrating drag-and-drop features, somewhat like iGoogle, 8 Securities created the “powerful, customizable, social, unlimited” tool for brokers and investors to monitor and share insights and information on the trade and stock market. It is the world’s first App based online investing portal and community and stands to change how the industry designs its sites in the future.
What’s It Takes
Now, let us look at the juiciest start-up; the first international winner of TechCrunch Disrupt, OrderWithMe.
Having lived, worked, and studied in China for the past several years, Jonathan and his wife, Danielle Jerkins, have experience in fashion retail prior to starting OrderWithMe. Seeing the business opportunity in purchasing directly from factories in China and selling them at almost 10 times the price to the US market, OrderWithMe solves the problem of having layers of middlemen, quality assurance, and stagnant/overloaded inventory.
So why did they win? Let’s look at some of the reasons why they succeed in bringing back the much coveted TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield Cup together with $50,000 in prize money.
1. Understanding the market needs of both US and China
The startup recognizes the problems faced by both markets.
- Retailers in US have difficulties in making sure the orders turn out right
- Retailers want quality products that are up to expectation
- Retailers have little or no opportunity to source for goods themselves
- Factories in China have problems in reaching out to the US market
2. Bridging the markets of both sides of the world
Positioning themselves as the bridge between the US and China market, OrderWithMe unites the countries and ultimately benefiting both sides. That’s linking 20 chosen trustworthy factories (for now) to thousands and thousands of retailers in the States! Given TC Disrupt’s desire to see itself as a bridge from West to East, this parallelism couldn’t do anything but help OrderWithMe’s cause, too.
3. Online Trade 2.0
Unlike traditional commerce platforms where users search for the products that they want, OrderWithMe implements the Online Trade 2.0 where they give consumers what they want through a specialized team that handpicks products to be added into its online catalogue. Say good-bye to filtering through tons of irrelevant information, spams and outdated posts.
In my opinion, Jonathan did a great job pitching by going through – What, Why and How. He presented what the problem was, why the problem still exists today, and finally how to solve the problem of sourcing quality products directly from factories in China and selling them at high profit margins using OrderWithMe. It was clear, easy to digest and definitely satisfying to the judges’ eyes.
Combining all of these into one package is what gave OrderWithMe the edge. They simply were the most polished out the group. Cyril over at Chinaccelerator did a great job fostering this company and deserves a tip of the hat as well. I’ll be expecting to see big things out of that incubator in the future.
About the Author
Dennis Koh – He is on the Sales Team at Symbio and the President of Young Entrepreneurs Association of NUS (YEAN). An Electrical Engineering major in National University of Singapore (NUS) and Technopreneurship minor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Always on a lookout for innovators, aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups. Contact him at dennis.koh[at]gmail[dot]com.