TechCrunch Disrupt SF – seven start-ups to watch

Californian start-up YourMechanic took out the top title at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012, while other standouts included a self-balancing bicycle and a predictive database for app developers.

 

YourMechanic is an online marketplace where consumers can find local mechanics, who then come to the consumer’s home or office to fix their car.

 

Founded in 2011, YourMechanic is “disrupting the car repair industry the way Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry”.

 

At TechCrunch Disrupt SF, YourMechanic beat six other start-ups to be named the winner of the Startup Battlefield competition, while fellow Californian start-up Lit Motors came second.

 

Lit Motors is also aiming to shake up the car industry, albeit in a different way to YourMechanic. Lit Motors has created the world’s first fully electric, self-balancing motorbike.

 

The start-up aims to “rekindle the excitement of the transportation experience” by combining human-centered design with the latest in technology and manufacturing.

 

“The combustion engine has dominated cars and motorcycles for 90 years. Alternative energy calls for a new kind of vehicle architecture… We are reinventing the motorcycle,” it says.

 

The other Startup Battlefield finalists included:

 

Expect Labs

 

Expect Labs is building a technology platform to enable applications to “pay attention continuously and better anticipate our needs”.

 

Expect Labs has created an iPad app called MindMeld.

 

“MindMeld is the first voice and video calling app that can actually understand your conversations to make it easy to find and share related information as you talk,” it says.

 

Gyft

 

Gyft is a digital gift card platform that allows users to “ditch the plastic” and use their mobile device to store, send and redeem cards.

 

For retailers, Gyft creates a new distribution channel by giving brands visibility into the consumers that hold their gift cards.

 

“By using Gyft, merchants can drive customer acquisition, increase shopper interaction and drive social engagement,” it says.

 

Prior Knowledge

 

Prior Knowledge is a cloud-based predictive database for app developers who “want to make applications smarter”.

 

Prior Knowledge is developing infer-structure using interference and prediction technology, which “goes well beyond” what’s currently available.

 

“We get really excited about making cutting-edge learning and prediction technology dead simple to use,” it says.

 

Zumper

 

Zumper is an apartment rental platform that makes it easier for people to find a new home.

 

“We founded Zumper because we couldn’t believe there wasn’t a better way to discover great apartments,” it says.

 

“First, we built a beautiful site. We think that Zumper is significantly faster and more intuitive than any apartment site out there. Second, we curated our listings.”

 

Saya

 

Saya, which is based in Ghana, aims to bring “rich mobile messaging” to billions of mass market devices in emerging markets.

 

Saya aims to achieve this with a product that is based on Java and combines some of the features seen in smartphone apps such as Whatsapp, RIM’s BBM and Facebook.

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