Israel Dominates TechCrunch Disrupt 2011

Industry Expert and Guest Blogger Hillel Fuld weighs in on the success of Israeli start ups at TechCrunch Disrupt Conference
We have all heard about the famous book Startup Nation describing the Israel startup scene as one of the finest in the world. We have even heard industry shakers like Mike Arrington, founder of one of the world’s leading tech blogs "TechCrunch",  who among others refer to Israel as an extension of Silicon Valley.
TechCrunch holds an annual conference called “TechCrunch Disrupt”, which has become widely regarded as the most important startup conference of the year.    It was clear at this year''s conference that Israel is a tech superpower as far as innovation is concerned.
There was a lot of drama and buzz leading up to the conference because AOL actually fired Arrington and the news went live just minutes before he took the stage. Some were concerned that this would take away from the goal of the conference- highlighting amazing new startups and technology but thankfully, that didn’t happen.
Itamar Weisbrod, CEO of Flyscreen told me for example “We went into Disrupt a little cautious of how the event would play out. But we were really pleasantly surprised by how professional the TechCrunch staff was, how packed with energy they were, and the great focus they helped put on us
Israeli startups."
At the end of the day with the exception of a few cheap shots, Arrington and the TechCrunch staff made Disrupt all about the startups and put the drama aside. The result was the best TechCrunch Disrupt ever. It was the best not only because of the companies that attended, but because the panels, interviews, and presentations were of the highest level as compared to previous TechCrunch events.
What never ceases to amaze many in the industry is the tremendous number of Israeli companies not only attending and presenting, but found among the finalists at the end of the conference.
Israeli companies have been part of the conference before and won but this was the first time there was an Israeli pavilion with some super interesting startups including Daps’em, RankAbove, Onavo, Flyscreen, Viewbix , Doweet and the list goes on.
Three Israeli companies presented at the conference, two of them were finalists and one took the famous TechCrunch Disrupt cup back to Tel Aviv.
Shaker: Shaker ended up taking first place with a Facebook app that offers a virtual bar environment based on your Facebook data including your profile picture, friends, and interests.
It is basically intended to bring the way we socialize offline to the online social networking world. With the popular platform taking off, it is no surprise that the crowd and panel loved this service as well.
 Of course, like many products, there is somewhat of a chicken and egg situation with Shaker. For it to explode in popularity, it needs a lot of users, otherwise, when you use the app, you won’t see others there and the appeal will disappear. Except for people to use Shaker, it needs to be appealing. See where I am going with this? The company has challenging times ahead but taking first place at TechCrunch Disrupt is a pretty darn good start.
Farmigo: This company has developed a super interesting internet platform that disrupts an industry no one thought could be disrupted by a tech company.
Farmigo developed a platform that shortens the supply chain by allowing consumers to buy their food directly from farmers, fisherman, and others that are involved in the preparation of the food, as opposed to the super markets who mark up the prices significantly.
On the flip side, the platform enables the famers to manage their stock and offer consumers an easy way to choose what to buy and at what price.
Many people including MG Siegler of TechCrunch and Micha Porat of Genesis Partners thought Farmigo would take first place as they believed it was the most disruptive company there.
Tonara, which did not make the finals is another Israeli company that, like Farmigo, aims to disrupt an industry that has not been touched
by technology is decades or even centuries.  Did you ever watch a musician reading the notes out of a notebook and have to turn pages while they play the instrument. Surely, that is not an ideal situation and with all the technology available today, there must be a way around it.
Well, it seems Tonara attacked this issue and did a fine job at it, at least in my opinion. Using a tablet, Tonara, listens to you while you play, and automatically turns the pages when you reach the end of the page. It also knows how to filter out noise or other instruments in the background so every member of an orchestra can, in theory use Tonaro’s solution.
In addition, Tonara includes an built in app store for musicians to download notes from composers, many for free and some for a symbolic cost of $1.
All in all, as you can see, Israel is surpassing expectations when it comes to innovation and the startup world. The numbers speak for themselves and in proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has a larger number of startup companies than any other country in the world, except the US (3,500 companies mostly in hi-tech). How is that for a country with a population of 7 million, hostile surroundings and high taxes, not bad wouldn’t you say?
Meet Our Guest Blogger: Hillel Fuld
Hillel Fuld is a tech blogger and marketing guy who manages multiple sites such as Technmarketing, Appboy, and inneractive. Hillel has written on many leading online publications such as Mashable, Gigaom, and others and has interviewed industry shakers from organizations such as the NY Times, TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal, as well as many leading startups.  In addition to his blogger hat, Hillel is an active Twitter personality who defines himself as a "Social Media Addict". When Hillel is not blogging or tweeting, he is the Head of Marketing for inneractive, a mobile startup that deals with app monetization across all mobile platforms.
photos courtsey of featured companies TechCrunch, Shaker and Tonara