THE BLOG

My Top 5 Startups From TechCrunch Disrupt NY

05/11/2015 06:07 pm ET | Updated May 11, 2016

TechCrunch Disrupt NY has drawn to a close here in the Big Apple. Over the past few days, the venerated startup news source brought together tech industry leaders like Ron Conway, Fred Wilson, and Alexis Ohanian to discuss the state of the startup world, make announcements, and be merry. While there was plenty to take in on the Hammerstein Ballroom's main stage, the real action was downstairs in the Startup Battlefield.

With teams traveling from around the country and world to launch their ventures, get noticed, and duke it out for TechCrunch's $50,000 prize, there was no absence of competition. The companies on display ranged from artificial intelligence plays to teams that want to make your sex life better. Below is my personal list of the standouts to keep your eyes on. Feel free to share your own in the comments below.

Biobots: 3D printed organs. Yes really. There's been lots of discussion in recent years about advances in 3D printing. The folks at Biobots have another impressive one to add to the list. Using visible light, they've created a bioprinting device that quickly and cheaply produces high quality live tissue. The applications of this technology to medical research are pretty crazy. Being able to produce cartilage and other tissues at speed and low cost, Biobots is making rapid prototyping accessible to researchers around the world.

Nikola Labs: This team of Ohio State physicists and engineers is offering up possibly the most badass phone case yet. Their product, which will launch on Kickstarter this Summer, harvests radio frequency from the air, converts it to DC power, and transfers it to your phone's battery. Simply by picking up the RF around you, and recycling that given off by your own phone, this case can help extend your charge by 30 percent. Shut up and take my money.

Phind: Take a photo of a place, whether an iconic building to a bar in a new neighborhood and Phind will tell you not only what you're looking at, but info about that site and the area around it. Simple and useful, particularly for you travelers out there.

Tricella: An IoT pillbox that helps patients stay current with their medication regimens, and family/doctors keep in the loop. Medication adherence is a serious and costly problem. I've seen a few companies emerge in recent years to try to tackle it. What I like about Tricella is that it's a step forward in usability and provides simple, actionable data to those who need it.

Rhymeo: I was tempted to cap off the list with another hard science play like Nucleus Scientific or perhaps a social good product like water filter Liquidity. But, let's be honest, what we all really care about is freestyle rapping. Enter Rhymeo. When these guys pulled me over to share their app, I chuckled at the concept. After a demo, however... I was still laughing, but because it was addictive, fun, and surprisingly clever. You pick a theme and Rhymeo sets the beat, provides a selection relevant words to drop, and lets you pick others that rhyme to them. It's so easy to use, even I could do it. And that's saying something. Six months from now, this venture will either be worth zero or have a valuation we'll all complain about. It will be fun to see what happens.

Bonus -- Rain: These fellas weren't in the Startup Battlefield, but they did roll out their app at Disrupt, so I feel like a nod is appropriate. Skippered by former Googler Jack Levin (employee #21), Rain offers up a kind of visual Yik Yak, if you will. Bringing together photo sharing, geolocation, and anonymity, they aim to create a useful and positive way to see and interact with what's around you; areas where others in this increasingly crowded space have fallen short. As with most social sharing apps, the trick will be cultivating the community of users necessary for the product to be functional. With a solid team and clever approaches to addressing the anonymity/bullying conundrum, they have a good shot of doing some neat things.