Three Talks You Won't Hear at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011

...though we tried.

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011 starts today, but I don’t think any professors made the list of speakers. At least three of us submitted proposals. Professors Katerina Bezrukova, Chester Spell, and I thought that a short session of relative outsiders to the Disrupt entrepreneurial crowd would provide value.  Take a look at our proposed topics (yes, professors can write very short proposals when constrained by a computer submission process) and let us know if you’d like to hear more.

Our responses to “Why do you want to present at TechCrunchDISRUPT? *100 words max.”


Katerina Bezrukova

People have unlimited access to information (through social networks) but limited abilities to process it. Through the tsunami of pitches, getting noticed becomes critical. Successful companies have effectively used behavioral science as motivator to attract and draw attention of their users. Netflix offers instant streaming, satisfying immediate moods of people. Groupon breaks social stigma of coupon use by manipulating perceptions of crowdbehavior. Zynga and Quora use reciprocity and escalation of commitment by having participants to invest in their creations - all based on behavioral science!

Chester Spell

Technology startups have been compared to a trip to the moon – the process involves social isolation, sleep deprivation, and potential substance abuse. Research on extreme work environments has identified ways that scientists and engineers function effectively and creatively under non-optimal conditions, while preserving their personal health and stamina. Sharing advice gathered from cases of polar research teams, rock climbers, simulated lunar bases and others will provide specific ways to keep thinking sharp when the going really gets tough. After all, healthy people create healthy startups!

Terri Griffith

It makes me sad when an innovation fails because it wasn’t understood. Designers and entrepreneurs are in a tough position given their creation role - they can be blind to how the innovation is seen, or worse yet, overlooked. Understanding can be built in (Google’s simple search page), supported through education (Evernote’s case examples, MailChimp’s Guides) or marketing (Apple’s FaceTime ads). I’d like to share with Disrupt attendees some simple strategies for being sure their innovations are understood and given the best shot at success.

What do you think? Should we try again? What other tech audience would gain value from discussions around these ideas?

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