The Disrupt Experience


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and dinner, we hacked away at our script. We decided to take out half of the words and tell a real story about how you use TalkTo. In that one hour-–-the day before we were to present to thousands of people-–-we changed everything.

We wanted to show the audience you could talk to ANY local business so we decided to do a live demonstration on stage. Riley would get a table at Zuni Cafe, he’d have flowers waiting at a local florist chosen by one of the judges, and then he’d get a room at a hotel, chatting in real time with the reservationist. All of it would happen in the space of a live six minute demo. It was risky but pulling it off would be magical.

And it worked! The judges were impressed, and sent us on to the final round the next day. We were elated and exhausted.

At 2:40 AM we received an email saying “Congratulations!” We’d been selected as one of six finalists to present that next afternoon. By 4 AM we were up, ready to work. It would’ve been easy to do the same thing but we wanted to show the breadth of TalkTo. This time we used TalkTo to chat in real time with a local bakery to order some treats. We pulled up a daily deal and sent a text to the business to ask a question for that night’s presentation. And we asked one of the judges to pick a bar so we could find out whether they had Anchor Steam on tap. It was tough to smoothly pull this off in the space of six minutes-–-all with text messages-–-but we took the chance.

The judges had great questions. Any entrepreneur that’s raised money will tell you that pitching investors isn’t easy. Doing it live, on stage, in front of some of the world’s best is another level altogether.

Backstage, it was finally done. Time to enjoy some beers with our amazing team. We’d launched TalkTo to the world, and it was received with open arms.

P.S. Our favorite tweet of all?


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Stuart Levinson is the co-founder and CEO of TalkTo, a mobile startup in Cambridge, MA. His last company, Venetica, was acquired by IBM. Follow @

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