Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s Viva Technology conference

Third time is a charm. Viva Technology (or “VivaTech” for short) hosted its kick-off press conference to present this year’s event. And this year is going to be quite special for TechCrunch as well because we’re hosting a Startup Battlefield Europe at VivaTech and a Hackathon.

Hosted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the press conference started off with Foreign Affairs Ministry staff member Maurice Gourdault-Montagne re-using Emmanuel Macron’s saying. “France is back,” he said.

Last year, I called VivaTech a ginormous conference. And it’s true that the conference’s numbers are quite impressive. There were 68,000 people, 6,000 startups, 1,400 investors, 103 countries and 1 Emmanuel Macron. You can expect another ginormous VivaTech on May 24-26, 2018 at Paris expo Porte de Versailles.

Co-organized by Publicis and Les Échos, former Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy and Les Échos CEO Francis Morel started the event by going straight to the point. They’re calling VivaTech France’s equivalent of CES.

Let’s start with the best part. TechCrunch is going to organize a Startup Battlefield. Before everybody started doing a startup competition, there was the Startup Battlefield. Companies like Dropbox, Fitbit, N26 and Yammer all launched on the TechCrunch stage.

TechCrunch is going to be looking for the best and brightest entrepreneurs in the coming months to participate in our Battlefield. Applying is free, TechCrunch doesn’t take any equity, and the winner gets a big €25,000 check.

Early-stage startups will get exactly six minutes to pitch what they’ve been working on. After that, a panel of investors, tech experts and TechCrunch editors will ask questions to learn more about what they’re doing.

In addition to the Startup Battlefield, hundreds of hackers will get together to work on something cool, something neat, something smart. Our Hackathons are a great way to meet talented people and work on interesting projects.

As usual, VivaTech is also partnering with big French companies as sponsors and startup hubs. Companies, such as BNP Paribas, Google, La Poste, LVMH and others are going to rent a big chunk of the conference hall and invite startups on their booths.

“Startups apply to challenges organized by our partners,” VivaTech co-director Julie Ranty-Déchelette said. “Eventually, there will be 1,000 startups.” This is VivaTech’s main difference as startups that win those challenges don’t have to pay anything to get a booth in the main conference hall.

Last year, VivaTech created an investor corner with office hours with VC funds. This year, VivaTech is going to create a coaching center and a zone accelerate.

“Another important goal for VivaTech has always been to create an international event,” VivaTech co-director Maxime Baffert said. VivaTech has organized the VivaTour in 25 different countries, from San Francisco to Melbourne, from Rabat to Shanghai. This way, VivaTech can invite international startups and speakers.

The conference is partnering with accelerators and incubators in different countries. And there will be over 10 country pavilions, such as Israel, Italy, South Korea and Russia.

Baffert also announced a big Africa Tech space with a dedicated conference track, country pavilions and more. You’ll hear about African startups and innovations during the entire event.

On the first two days, VivaTech is mostly a business conference. But on the third day, anyone can go to the event. That’s why VivaTech wants to bring visual innovations. There will be a Tech Park with a bunch of robots, an e-sports stage and a Mega Tech Show with drones, robots and actual human beings for instance.

VivaTech is organization a Paris Tech for Good Summit at the Elysée Palace with Emmanuel Macron the day before the event. So you can also expect to see more Macron this year.

Registration is now open for Disrupt SF 2018

Hey startup world, get ready for the biggest, most ambitious TechCrunch Disrupt event ever. Disrupt, the world’s top technology and startup event, will take place in San Francisco on September 5-7, 2018, and it’s about to level-up in a big way. This is the one tech event you do not want to miss, and tickets are on sale now.

For starters, as we mentioned late last year, we’re moving Disrupt SF to a new venue: San Francisco’s Moscone Center West. Why? We’re growing, and the venue gives us three times the floor space to make room for 10,000+ people over three programming-packed days.

The expanded space lets us provide more of what past attendees want most. We’re talking multiple programming stages, hands-on workshops, product demos, Q&A sessions with top speakers, exhibitors, networking and, of course, lots of fun. And thanks to Moscone West, we’ll do it all in a much more comfortable and relaxed setting.

Disrupt SF will host more than 1,200 startups and exhibitors and feature four unique stages with speakers spanning 12 different tracks — including biotech, AI, space (as in “outer”), blockchain, security and robotics, to name just a few. But don’t worry, we’ll still have content and startups from categories like e-commerce, SaaS and IoT. Everything you would expect from Disrupt.

We’re excited about blending these changes with classic Disrupt platforms like the illustrious Startup Battlefield competition, the best global platform for launching early-stage startups (and for winning a $50,000 no-equity grand prize). We’ll be on the search for our next cohort of companies poised to shake up their respective industries and join over 700 Startup Battlefield companies that have collectively raised over $8 billion in funding and seen over 100 exits. Applications will be open in March.

You won’t want to miss Startup Alley — the heart of every Disrupt event — where more than 1,200 early-stage startups will be on display along with many tech company exhibitors, big and small. Discover early-stage startups featuring their latest technologies and services, explore business possibilities and, always, network. Interested in exhibiting in Startup Alley? Applications open in March, so check back or sign up to be notified via email here.

Disrupt just isn’t Disrupt without a Hackathon, and this year we’re going virtual. The details are still under wraps, but all will be revealed in the coming weeks!

If you East Coasters are thinking you’ll wait and catch Disrupt when it comes to New York City, you’ll want to jump on this West Coast bandwagon. We’ve created one singular Disrupt event in the U.S. to fully encompass tech innovation from across the country (and the world). So, come join us in the City by the Bay.

Plus, our new pricing model offers more affordable access than previous years — especially if you book now at the Super Early Bird rates. The Innovator Pass gets you access to Disrupt SF, including all four stages of content, workshops, the Startup Alley and Expo, the full Disrupt App to network with other attendees and our ever-amazing TC After Party starting at $995. We also have passes specifically for investors and founders that include benefits like access to CrunchMatch, our business matchmaking platform that makes networking much more targeted. And new for 2018, we’re offering a limited availability Basic Pass, which gives you access to the full Startup Alley and exhibitor area for just $149. Find out more here.

Disrupt SF 2018 takes place Sept. 5-7 at the Moscone Center West. It will be bigger, better, bolder — and value-packed. Don’t miss out. Buy your tickets today.

Fleet raises $10M Series A to make international logistics speedier and more transparent

Fleet, a startup focused on making international logistics less onerous for small companies, announced that it has raised a Series A of $10 million. The round was led by Lufthansa Cargo, the German airline’s air cargo subsidiary, with participation from new and returning investors Hunt Technology, UPS, UP2398 and 1517 Fund.

The Portland-based company’s last funding announcement was in April 2016, for a $4 million seed round led by Hunt Technology Ventures. Its Series A brings Fleet’s total raised so far to $14 million. Founder and chief executive officer Max Lock tells TechCrunch that the capital will be used to launch Fleet GDS, which he says will be the “industry’s first global distribution system that links rates, automates bookings and documentation for shippers and logistics providers on a single, seamless platform.” The company also plans to launch an air freight platform next month, with Lufthansa Cargo as one of its partners and service providers.

Lufthansa Cargo’s chief commercial officer Alexis von Hoensbroech has also joined Fleet’s board of directors. In a press statement, Lufthansa Cargo CEO Peter Gerber said “Fleet Logistics is a perfect match for us as the company combines innovative and visionary thinking with a strong intrinsic motivation to improve air cargo booking and shipping efficiency and, finally, our customers’ overall experience. We expect substantial learnings with regard to our product and service portfolio. Thus, we are sure that Lufthansa Cargo and Fleet will mutually benefit from sharing concepts and ideas.”

Then called Shipstr, Fleet launched at Disrupt San Francisco in 2014, where it made it to Startup Battlefield’s final round. Lock first encountered the logistics nightmares many small import-export businesses deal with while running Schoolboy Ice Cream, which sold frozen desserts to Whole Foods and other distributors. When other food businesses began asking him to import paper cups from Chinese manufacturers, Lock discovered that the cost of booking freight forwarders, who in turn need to book third-party services like warehouses, custom brokers and trucking firms, quickly adds up, and that there is very little transparency in the process.

Fleet was originally created to connect small businesses with freight brokers for international cargo shipments, but it changed its name and business model and launched a marketplace in July 2015 that allows businesses to compare freight forwarders (the agents that arrange the warehousing and shipping of international cargo), manage shipments and leave reviews. There are now more than 500 freight forwarders on Fleet’s platform. The company claims that it can help businesses that make about five to 100 shipments per year save up to $30,000 and 800 hours annually by reducing the amount of time it takes to get quotes from service providers, set up and manage accounts and track shipments across the world.

The startup is building Fleet GDS because the logistics industry “is lacking a technical infrastructure,” Lock says. He explains that many companies along the supply chain have their own proprietary software and use EDI (electronic data interchange) to send information back and forth, a cumbersome, time-consuming process Fleet GDS is meant to fix. Since airlines, warehouses and trucking firms are unlikely to stop using their existing systems, that means the logistics industry needs to solve its own communication problem. Fleet GDS wants to accomplish this by linking major services like rates, capacity, bookings and documentation across every step of the logistics supply chain, including warehouses, trucks, airlines, ocean carriers and customs brokers.

Lock says that Fleet GDS will allow Fleet to continue differentiating from other startups using tech to solve logistics challenges (such as Freightos, Flexport and Haven) because it enables importers, exporters and freight forwarders to communicate directly with the service providers that are currently handling their cargo. In addition to making the process more efficient, Lock believes that it will also increase trust and transparency in the traditionally opaque logistics supply chain.

Featured Image: Alija/Getty Images

Only 48 hours left to apply for Startup Battlefield Dubai

The clock is running out on your chance to compete in the very first TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Dubai hosted by Area 2071 in January 2019. The application window closes on January 25th, 2018 at 9 p.m. PST. That means you have just 48 hours left to get the job done.  Apply today.

Startup Battlefield Dubai takes a different approach than our previous competitions. Let’s review, shall we? First, we’re looking for early-stage startups with products or services in the following three categories: governance, logistics and distribution. TechCrunch editors will select five contenders for each category to compete in the pitch-off.

If you’re nervous about pitching, don’t stress. We’ve got you covered. All 15 startups will receive expert pitch-off coaching from TechCrunch editors, so you’ll be at your best in front of both a live audience and a global one. Yes, the entire competition will live stream around the world on; you can watch it later on-demand, too.

Teams from each category will have six minutes to pitch their company to a panel of judges with expertise relevant to that given theme (expect a mix of investors, entrepreneurs and technologists). The judges will then have up to six minutes to grill each team, so be prepared — no softball questions here.

The judges will narrow the field to five startups for a second round of pitching. And that brings us to Startup Battlefield Dubai’s second big difference; we’ve added more ways to win.

The judges will choose one winner from each category and one grand-prize winner — the Startup Battlefield Dubai champion. All four winning teams receive an invitation to participate in Area 2071’s incubator program (including accommodation and visa sponsorship).

The United Arab Emirate’s new innovation hub, Area 2071 aims to help develop companies looking to solve big challenges around the world. Incubator participants gain access to Area 2071’s network of corporate partners, government entities, designers and lawyers — invaluable guidance for startups looking to scale.

Of course, we’ve saved the best rewards for the Startup Battlefield Dubai champion. The grand-prize winner receives a US$50,000 cash prize (TechCrunch takes no equity or fees), and a paid trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield in San Francisco at Disrupt SF 2019 (if the company still qualifies at the time).

When you compete in a Startup Battlefield, regardless of the outcome, you join the ranks of Battlefield alumni. This community consists of almost 800 companies that have collectively raised more than $8 billion and produced more than 100 exits. You might recognize a few, such as MintDropboxYammerTripItGetaround and Cloudflare. This is your chance to join them.

You probably have lots of questions (like how we define governance, logistics and distribution, what countries are eligible to participate and more). Good news; we have answers, and you’ll find on our Startup Battlefield Dubai FAQ.

This is your opportunity to introduce your company to a global audience and take your business to a new level. Don’t throw away your shot to compete in Startup Battlefield Dubai. Apply right now.

A new date for Startup Battlefield Dubai

We’re thrilled to be heading to Dubai, but as it turns out, it will be a little later than expected. Due to scheduling changes, Startup Battlefield Dubai, originally slated for April 2018, will now take place in January 2019. This will give us even more time to make this an incredible event in a truly exciting region for tech and startups.

What happens if you’re thinking about applying?

Still apply! We will consider you for our next Startup Battlefield and Startup Battlefield Dubai if you still fit the criteria by the new deadline of January 1st, 2019.

What happens if you’ve already applied?

You will stay in the pool for our next scheduled Startup Battlefield and will be considered for Startup Battlefield Dubai if you still fit the criteria by January 1st, 2019. You may also choose to withdraw your application if you wish.

Thank you to our incredible community of founders for sharing your startups with us. We’re looking forward to your applications!

Apply today for TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Dubai

Technology innovation and entrepreneurial genius exists across the globe. That’s why in 2017 TechCrunch took the Startup Battlefield to Africa,  Australia, Europe, and of course San Francisco. In 2018, we’re heading to Dubai — a moonshot city in the making — and joining forces with the UAE’s new innovation hub, Area 2071. We’re looking for 15 of the world’s best early-stage startups to join us there in April.

The TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Dubai Hosted by Area 2071 takes place in April 2018, and the deadline to apply is January 18th, 2018 at 9 pm PST. That’s just 15 days away, so get a move on!

Startup Battlefield Dubai will feature early-stage startups focused only on the following three categories: governance, logistics and distribution. Five startups representing each category will be invited to compete onstage in Dubai. The finalists will receive notification by February 25th, 2018 at 5pm PST.

The 15 startups chosen to compete will receive expert pitch-off coaching from TechCrunch editors. Each team will emerge from their training ready to pitch their company in six minutes to a panel of judges, and field their questions for up to six minutes. The judges will bring their expertise as seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and technologists to pose some tough questions; a TechCrunch editor will moderate.The judges will select five finalists to pitch a second time to win the first ever Startup Battlefield Dubai winner.

The overall winner will be crowned the first TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Dubai champion, bring home the US$50,000 cash prize (TechCrunch takes no equity of fees). The winner will also receive an all-expense paid trip for two to San Francisco for Disrupt SF 2018 — TechCrunch’s flagship event — and will compete in that Battlefield (assuming the company still qualifies at the time).

Startup Battlefield Dubai will produce one winner for each of the three categories and one overall winner. All four winners will receive an invitation to join Area 2071’s incubator program, which includes support from a community of corporate partners, government entities, designers and lawyers. It also includes accommodation and visa sponsorship.

You’ll be able to tune-into the show via livestream around the world on, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter; we’ll have it available later on-demand, too.

All 15 Startup Battlefield Dubai companies will enter the Startup Battlefield Alumni Community.  Our Alumni community includes over 800 companies who’ve collectively raised over $8 billion, and produced over 100 exits. Notable Battlefield alumni include Mint, Dropbox, Yammer, TripIt, Getaround and Cloudflare.

Do you have questions about how we define governance, logistics and distribution — or anything else? You’ll find answers (including legalese about which countries are not eligible) on our Startup Battlefield Dubai FAQ.

The application deadline — January 18th, 2018 at 9 pm PST — will arrive before you know it. So, get your team moving and apply to Startup Battlefield Dubai today. We can’t wait to see you there!

Featured Image: Luciano Mortula/Shutterstock

TechCrunch to host Startup Battlefield in Dubai with Area 2071

TechCrunch Startup Battlefield is headed to Dubai on its continuing quest to find and feature the best early-stage startups around the world.

Slated for April 2018, Startup Battlefield Dubai will feature global startups with a focus on three categories: governance, logistics and distribution. Startups from all over the world are invited to apply to compete. TechCrunch will host the event in Dubai in front of a live audience and top judges, and we will livestream the show on TechCrunch, so the rest of the world can tune in.

TechCrunch is producing Startup Battlefield Dubai in partnership with Area 2071: The UAE’s new innovation hub set to open in 2018 and focused on fostering innovators aiming to solve important human challenges. The winners of each category and the overall winner of Startup Battlefield Dubai will also be offered a spot in Area 2071’s co-creation space supported by an ecosystem of corporate partners, government entities, designers, and lawyers to help them scale their ventures. They will also receive accommodation and visa sponsorship.

The overall winner of Startup Battlefield Dubai will also win $50,000 USD in no-equity cash plus an all-expense paid trip for two to San Francisco to participate in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch’s flagship event, Disrupt SF 2018 (assuming the company still qualifies to participate at this time). Apply here.

The Startup Battlefield has been bringing world-class founders into the spotlight since 2007, and in the past decade more than 700 contestants have gone on to raise over $8 billion in funding and rack up more than 100 exits. Our community of Startup Battlefield Alumni include companies like Mint, Dropbox, Yammer, TripIt, Getaround and Cloudflare. TechCrunch doesn’t invest in Startup Battlefield companies (or any company, for that matter), but if Startup Battlefield were a TechCrunch investment portfolio it would rank like a top-10 VC. Instead, we tell the founders’ stories, uncovering the next wave of disruptive innovations and let our readers deploy the capital. TechCrunch charges no fees to Startup Battlefield contestants.

Founders that make the cut receive expert pitch coaching from Samantha Stein, our Startup Battlefield Editor, and the TC team. When the Startup Battlefield arrives, you’ll be ready to pitch your company to seasoned investors and founders in six minutes, and answer any questions they throw your way. If you make it to the finals, you’ll pitch again in the top-five for your chance to be the first winner ever of TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Dubai.

The entire event will be live-streamed (and later available on demand), and carried on, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

How to apply

Startups must fit into one of three categories (governance, logistics, distribution) to participate. Five startups in each category will be selected to join us on stage for the Startup Battlefield Dubai.

Governance. As populations and their needs grow and evolve, we are looking for startups focused on building the next digital infrastructure for governance. These startups could be working on a wide variety of topics able to transform governance from identity protection to voting systems.

Product Distribution. As billions of consumers join the ranks of digital consumers, we are looking for startups focused on meeting the next generation opportunity to reach these new digital markets through distribution. These startups could be working on a wide variety or topics that touch the product distribution space from distribution platform innovations to new modes of consumption.

Logistics. As the speed of commerce continuously increases, we are looking for startups focused on reducing, eliminating, or overcoming friction where possible to break down barriers to trade. These startups could be working on a wide variety or topics that touch the logistics from supply chain optimization to procurement software.

Apart from clear relevance to one of the three themes, qualifying startups should:

  • Be early-stage companies in “launch” stage
  • Be a resident from our eligible countries
  • Have a fully working product/beta, reasonably close to or in production
  • Have received limited press or publicity to date
  • Have no known intellectual property conflicts

What do the winners receive?

Apart from the exposure that comes from pitching to the global TechCrunch audience as well as the live audience of distinguished technologists, entrepreneurs, and investors in Dubai, the overall winner will receive $50,000 in no-equity cash plus an all-expense paid trip for two to San Francisco to compete in Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch’s flagship event, Disrupt SF 2018 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at this time). All winners, both the grand prize winner and the three category winners, will receive offers to join the Dubai 2071 incubator program.

Are costs to attend Startup Battlefield Dubai covered?

Up to three founders will receive round trip economy airfare, event tickets, and three nights in a hotel in Dubai.

Who picks the startups that will compete?

The TechCrunch editors who run the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield competition will choose the finalists from the application pool.

Who will judge Startup Battlefield Dubai?

TechCrunch will select four judges for each theme. They will be noted entrepreneurs, investors and technologists with experience relevant to the category. A TechCrunch editor will moderate the judging, and cast the tie-breaker ballot, if needed.

What is the pitch-off format?

Each company will have six  minutes to present. The judges will have six minutes to ask questions. Live demos are strongly encouraged.

What are the judging criteria?

One winner will be chosen from each category and one overall winner. The judges are looking for the company most likely to produce an exit or IPO.

When is the application deadline?

January 18th, 2017 at 9pm PST.

When will you notify the finalists?

February 25th, 2017 at 5pm PST.

Will TechCrunch’s team help prepare startups for the pitch-off?

Yes, in person training and rehearsal sessions will be required, as well in-person rehearsal in the days preceding the event.

What countries are eligible?

This is a global competition searching for the best innovators, makers, and technologists from every corner of the globe. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the foregoing language, the “Applicable Countries” does not include any country to or on which the United States has embargoed goods or imposed targeted sanctions (including, but not limited to, Sudan).

If you would like to apply — please click here.
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See you in Dubai!