Techcrunch Disrupt is a showcase for start-up companies to pitch to the great and the good of Silicon Valley.
Techcrunch, the inimitable blog behind the conference, also names some firms as possibly disruptive and gives them a slot in "Silicon Alley". For us in the press, this is a cross between running the gauntlet and a treasure trove as eager founders try to interest you in their wares. The experience depends on your state of mind and on how rushed you are.
And so last week, I caught up with some of the start-ups that might become a household name, might get acquired or might flame out.
A lot of things in one go
According a vote, the most disruptive company was Qwiki, which won $50,000 and the Disrupt Cup.
The company describes itself as a new visual information experience. When the user enters a subject, up pops a host of mixed media, including videos, photos and narrated text.
"We are a mix of art and science," the company's creative director Rasmus Knutsson told me. "We have an intelligence algorithm that picks up the data - it goes through the Qwiki machine and out comes this very visual, very immersive experience."
Easy-use cases are researching a holiday destination or buying a house where a user will be given the history of an area, a timeline, maps, videos, photos, places to hang out and so on.
At the moment, Qwiki has over two million topics to trawl through. It did OK when I asked it to pull together data on Bonnie Prince Charlie. I didn't much care for the robotic female narrator; no doubt there will be options on that in the future.
Qwiki relies on Wikipedia for its information but hopes to eventually use data from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Linkedin.
Mr Knutsson stressed that for him, Qwiki is not a search engine but a "new way to get information about a lot of things in one go".
As a sidebar, one of the founders, Louis Monier was behind Altavista, the first large-scale search engine on the internet.
Local newspaper on steroids
It's all about being social these days and Dehood is no exception.
In this case, founder Babak Hedyati wants to travel back in time and re-awaken local neighbourhoods of yore.
"It's a throwback to the way neighbourhoods used to be before we all started conducting our life online and living in virtual worlds," said Mr Hedayati.
Think of Dehood, he said, like a local newspaper on steroids.
"The local paper is very good at reporting and editorialising and writing lengthy pieces on things that happen and communicating with local shops and bringing deals to people," said Mr Hedayati.
"In our case, we want to bring people together for something good and forge a sort of kinship - for example, if you care about keeping the neighbourhood green or safe or you want to create a block party or bring the parents together to make the schools better or drug-free.
"These are causes that local people can join together and in the process find and meet people who are like themselves that care about the same issues and help them develop friendships in the neighbourhood."
Local merchants use the service to offer local deals; others have used it to find a lost pet.
Mr Hedyati hopes people will check Dehood the way they once checked the local paper to find out what is going on around them, who is around them and what the latest buzz is.
DeHood has apps for iPhone and iPad and plans others for Android and Blackberry.
Makeover for the web
Also trying to leverage the power of community is Styleseat.
it is a service aimed at beauty professionals: hairdressers, massage therapists, personal trainers, manicurists and so on.
"Word of mouth has been huge for this industry in the past," said 26-year-old co-founder Melody McCloskey.
"The problem is people are spending more time online - instead of speaking to friends face-to-face to, say, recommend a service, they are more likely to send links to things. For this industry, that is a downfall because the tools haven't caught up and those who work in this sector are at a disadvantage.
"So we want to take that real-life word-of-mouth chatter and translate that to the online world and empower providers to share the work they do."
Ms McCloskey said another challenge for many of the two million professionals employed in this sector is that they often can't afford to set up their own individual sites and don't have the savvy to do so. That is where Styleseat hopes to come in as a middle man.
There is a freemium model that allows small businesses to create a web presence and a premium service that includes booking and scheduling options and keeping track of clients and feedback.
Ms McCloskey says the business was inspired by her own need to find a good hairdresser after suffering three expensive bad experiences.
"That was when I realised the consumer is not empowered - and even more so, neither is the professional. So this is a way to get their work out in front of more potential customers," said Ms McCloskey.
'eBay of space'
Ever found yourself in a foreign place or a strange city with nowhere to lay your head and very little money in your pocket?
That scenario is what inspired the creation of AirBnB. Two of the three guys behind the company, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, rented out an airbed in their apartment to a desperate conference-goer who needed a cheap place to stay.
From there AirBnB has spread to nearly 8,000 cities around the world and has billed itself as the "eBay of space" aimed at disrupting the traditional hotel model.
The firm's Carly Chamberlain described AirBnB as an "online location rental platform" that includes everything from "an airbed to a castle and from an igloo to posh apartments".
"We are starting to pop up in remote locations, the names of which I have never heard of before. During the World Cup, for example, some people were so far out that they came and picked up their BnB guest at the airport."
Just as the accommodation varies, so does its price - from $20 to $2,000.
The company gets a bite out of both ends of the deal by charging travellers between 6-12% of the price and the renter a 3% fee.
To police the service, the company relies on reviews and social networks like Facebook where travellers and renters have the opportunity to screen one another.
No more rude awakenings?
Talking of a place to lay your weary head, how do you guarantee a good night's sleep if your other half is an early riser? Lark founder Julia Hu promised the crowd at Techcrunch Disrupt a way to make the alarm clock obsolete.
She describes her product as "pajamas for the wrist" - it's a wristband that receives a signal from the user's smartphone and "emits a gentle vibration that wakes you up, no matter how deep a sleep you are in."
"Most people have smartphones," said Ms Hu, "and we are using that technology to get you up and let your other half snooze."