My thoughts on Openbucks, Bitcasa and Amen and my inaugural Techcrunch Disrupt experience

Rocky McGredy is a Techcrunch Disrupt virgin no more. Here's what he has to say about his sensory-overload experience beside 2,600 other attendees at the annual technology start-up conference in San Francisco

Yes, Techcrunch Disrupt was all in the news LAST week. So, I'm feeling pretty late to the game on this one, and it’s all my fault for being a lazy person from time to time, but despite being last-week's news, I really feel the compelling urge to comment on the annual start-up technology conference in San Francisco.

I was blessed with my first ever press pass to a serious event, and I liked what I saw. It’s always a breath of fresh air to see what’s current, but Disrupt was a whole different beast.

This was BEFORE current. This is where people make themselves relevant, and what an exciting concept that is. I was lucky enough to attend the second day of Disrupt.

It was just sensory overload with the sheer amount of things going on.

Being the new kid at school certainly wasn’t a bad thing, though. I think seeing something for the first time is always a good perspective. I found myself in the middle of a creativity hub. So many ideas were bouncing everywhere that it was difficult to trap one and really focus on it. Like I said before, sensory overload. Also, as a side note, it was really quite surreal to see many of the movers and shakers that I’ve read about on stage... let alone browsing the stands like regular people.

The Startup Battlefield was like watching a sport for me. There’s a distinct rush of adrenaline that you get when you realize that someone is putting their heart and soul on the line. You really feel for them. It’s like they’re all High School boys hoping that someone will ask them to the Sadie Hawkins dance. I definitely had a few contenders for my theoretical Sadie Hawkins date.

In category 1: “Disrupting Traditional Markets”

Openbucks

The gift-card payment network

It was a tough decision for me in this category, but in the end I’ve decided that Openbucks was the most interesting. Their business model takes a bit of creative thinking. Basically, these guys are trying to corner the, “I never use these stupid gift cards,” market. They give you the ability to take your old gift cards and turn them into internet credits. They’ve already partnered with several companies, some of which I legitimately have gift cards to in my wallet. Right now, their service only exists for social internet games where you can exchange your real money for in game tokens; but it would be interested to see what they could expand to.

I chose Openbucks because of how clever their idea manages to be while still managing to be minimalist. They’ve just made it easier for every teenager with 5 bucks in their wallet to spend their money on the things they already spend most of their time on.

In category 2: “Moving the Web Forward”

Bitcasa

Infinate Storage for your Desktop

Bitcasa is taking a firm stand that storing things in the “cloud” shouldn’t be a difficult experience. Oh yeah, they also believe that you should get as much space as you need. Bitcasa promises us infinite space. The demonstration was the most energetic of the night, that’s for sure. I signed up for the beta right then and there.

Bitcasa claims that they will be radically different and better than most traditional storage solutions. Bitcasa caches locally, making the entire experience blazingly fast... or so they say. We’ll see when I get that beta invite. Either way, I’m excited to see how this one pans out.

In category 3: “Entertain Us”

Amen

The Best Place for Strong Opinions in the World

This was probably the toughest category to decide in. I love to be entertained and feel as though I give equal precedence to all entertaining aspects of my life, so all of these possible new outlets just got me stoked about what’s to come.

I finally decided on Amen, yet again because of how elegantly streamlined the experience is. I like to call Amen an, “opinion template.” The content generated on the sight is labeled either the best or the worst. You get to choose a person place or thing and fill in the blanks with your radical opinion. Amen has the capacity to be the center for finding the best and worst of everything. Think of how interesting and useful these analytics could be.

Disrupt was invigorating to say the least. I can’t wait to see how these new companies perform in the real world. My only regret was only going to one day of the convention. Though, it could be a blessing in disguise because this could have very easily been ten to fifteen page love letter to startups and their ability to inspire.

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