What do Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Nasty Gal’s Sophia Amoruso have in common? They’re both leaders who aren’t afraid to take risks and learn from their mistakes. In an industry that is heavily dominated by men, these two women are proving to young girls everywhere that they too can run a tech company or startup one day. Hearing from these two female leaders on the final day of TechCrunch Disrupt NY was a refreshing way to end the conference.
“See your mistakes as taking risks and if it doesn’t work you don’t do it again and you try something different. You’re never failing, you’re just learning and then winning,” Amoruso told the audience on Wednesday afternoon. “Rather than idolizing celebrities, try being your own idol and competing with yourself.” It’s this competitive attitude that helped Amoruso go from dumpster diving in her hometown to running a multimillion dollar online retailing business.
Shanna Fisher, managing partner at High Line Venture Partners also pointed out that although women are underrepresented at venture capital firms, there is a silver lining. “People need to broaden the type of person they’re looking for in order to bring more diversity to the fund. Women have a huge advantage right now because they can bring a different perspective and model to the work.”
Marissa Mayer used her time on the Disrupt stage to address the importance of mobile apps, mainly because it’s the best way of staying relevant and useful in people’s daily habits. With the average smartphone user spending 162 minutes a day on the phone and 84% of those people engaging in apps, it’s essential to build a beautiful product that serves more than a single purpose. “It’s a critical issue and the biggest missed opportunity when I came in two years ago. Very few people were working on it (apps). Now hundreds of people are working on it,” Mayer stressed.
One industry that is starting to feel the impact of evolving technology is the educational system. We’ve already seen how successfully targeted programs like Rocketship Education and School of One can make a difference in lives of both students and teachers. Joel Klein of Amplify and Max Ventilla of AltSchool stopped by on Wednesday to discuss their views on hacking the classroom.
“Will kids find the experience more engaging? If it’s just about the latest gizmos and gadgets then nothing is ever going to change,” Klein stated in regards to introducing new technologies into the classroom. “What’s important is what’s on the tablet.”
“The most important technologies are actually invisible in the classroom…We’re focusing on personalization – what it means to do research at the end of a decade of elementary school. What one child went through is totally different than what another kids went though,” added Ventilla. With any luck, the kids benefiting from this generation of educational technology will soon be up on the Disrupt stage, competing for the chance to win $50,000.
So which company took away the grand prize and coveted Disrupt Cup? The answer is Vurb. The web and mobile contextual search engine beat out five other standout finalists including Boomerang Commerce, ISI Technology, Mimi, Mink, and ShowKit. The judges loved the fact that Vurb users can type in a query and receive all the essential information they need without leaving the search engine. For example, when planning a night out, Vurb can pull up movie times, reviews, links to the trailer, restaurants near the theater, images, and other useful information like directions and phone numbers. The best part? Vurb syncs across all devices so users can easily share their results on text and via Facebook. Vurb is certainly one step closer to accomplishing its mission: to reinvent how we surf the web.
That’s it from this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt NY. Want to learn more about it? Click here to find out where the next conference is taking place as well as ticket cost and other information.