Why TechCrunch has set its sights on Australia and NZ

If TechCrunch were a VC fund, it would be one of the top 10 firms in the world – so the emergence of its Battlefield event in Australia is a pretty big deal.

The tech startup news site is bringing its startup pitching competition down under for the first time ever after securing ELEVACAO as primary partner for Battlefield, and Hoist and Founders for Founders as headline sponsors.

MYOB is also pitching in as platinum sponsor for the event.

The Battlefield

The competition is the premiere startup pitching competition. TechCrunch says the close to 700 companies that have gone through the process have raised $7 billion in funding to date.

Startups are given the opportunity to pitch to a panel of TechCrunch editors who then select the winner of the coveted Disrupt Cup.

Winners of the Australian edition (to be held on 16 November) will receive $25,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to San Francisco to compete for the cup at TechCrunch’s flagship Disrupt event.

That’s where the eyes of the tech investment world turn when they’re looking for the next big thing.

Looking for the next big thing

Battlefield Editor, Samantha Stein, told The Pulse that the event had a great track record of generating investment for competing companies.

“We identify who we think the next wave of disruptors are,” she said, “and we’re pretty good at that.

“If we invested in the startups we select, we’d be a top ten VC firm worldwide – but we’re an editorial company.”

For TechCrunch, Battlefield is a way to identify new stories in places it normally can’t reach.

“TechCrunch is only about 60 people strong, so it’s difficult to do international coverage,” said General Manager of TechCrunch, Ned Desmond, at MYOB’s Innovation Hub earlier this week.

“It became increasingly pressing in the past few years as we watched places like Australia come along quickly with a lot more investment…so we felt a lot more pressure to do something about it or be left behind.

“We want to do what TechCrunch is supposed to do, and that’s give global visibility for tech startups and show the path to Silicon Valley.”

READ: How to get your startup noticed by TechCrunch

Stein said not only was TechCrunch on the lookout for new startup stories, but the US investment community was as well.

“The investment community is always looking for better deal flow and in saturated markets it’s always hard to find good deal flow, so you have to search further and wider to make that happen,” said Stein.

“So part of the investor strategy is finding new markets that have less competition.”

Those selected are given coverage in TechCrunch, which is read daily by investors and the tech community.

According to the site, it attracts 6.5 million monthly unique visitors in the US and has 13 million followers and fans on social media.

That’s a lot of eyeballs for your startup.

Want to be a part of it?

Emerging Australian and NZ startups who want to pitch as part of Battlefield should take a look at eligibility and FAQs here, but there are a few main points to remember:

  • You have to be brand-spanking new to a US audience. TechCrunch’s aim with Battlefield is to bring readers and investors new stories, so it’s no good if your story has already generated extensive coverage or investment
  • You need to have a working demo and a video to prove it – it can’t just be an idea for a startup
  • Your founding team needs to have residence in Australia or New Zealand
  • Apply by 4 September

Beyond the basics, how do you wow the selection panel?

Stein said demonstrating the strength of your founding team (or solo founder) was crucial.

“We’re looking for really driven founders who are great, and have the ability to execute on the idea they’re proposing,” she said.

“Sometimes there’s a really great idea, but there isn’t the team there to be able to execute on those ideas, so we ask in the application why you’re the perfect team to make it happen.”

READ: 4 tips for pitching to a venture capitalist

Stein also said the startup needed to advance a truly unique idea.

“If you’re replicating a business that’s already been replicated many times, but is maybe going to be a cash cow anyway…it’s not that exciting in this sort of landscape, and that’s going to be less interesting to us,” she said.

“If we’re like ‘Wow, why didn’t anyone think of that before!?’…that’s the kind of idea we want to hear.”