Technology 8 min read

Disrupt SF 2017 Startup Battlefield Finalists and Winner Part 2

TechCrunch |

TechCrunch |

TechCrunch’s annual tech event that was held in San Francisco ended with a boom yesterday, following the announcement of the Disrupt SF 2017 Startup Battlefield winner!

From thousands of potential candidates from around the world, down to 22 top innovators that were hand-picked by TechCrunch to compete for the Disrupt SF 2017 Startup Battlefield–the battle is finally over and the best startup company has been chosen!

But, before we extend our congratulations to the most promising contender who took home the Startup Battlefield Cup and the $50,000 USD prize money, let’s take a look at the profiles of the two other finalists who made this year’s cut.

As a continuation of Edgy Labs’ coverage of this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt event, here are the remaining finalists together with the battlefield champion!

#DisruptSF2017 was over and the Startup Battlefield champion has been chosen!Click To Tweet

Disrupt SF 2017 Startup Battlefield Finalists


The California-based Matic is an insurance services provider who wants to make the process of finding the right homeowner’s insurance easier and more efficient. To do this, Matic’s solution is to use technology to simplify the process while personalizing the customer’s experience of receiving quotes and recommendations.

According to its CEO, Aaron Schiff, the experience of buying his first home influenced him to build the company.

“It was a stressful experience for me, as it is for most people.”

“I went through the process thinking it should be easy, but it wasn’t – it was brutal. Then two days before closing, they told me to get homeowner’s insurance,” Schiff explained.

Furthermore, Schiff also found out through his friend, Benjamin Madick, that the delays related to obtaining homeowner’s insurance were also affecting lenders huge sum of money.

“[Madick] was doing an audit on a lender and they were losing about $30,000 a month because they weren’t closing their loans on time, all due to extension fees caused by homeowner’s insurance,” says Schiff.

These issues eventually led to the creation of Matic, “a system that would integrate with insurance carriers and lenders to provide homeowner’s insurance during the mortgage process.”

According to Matic, a person could get a policy, which usually takes 2 to 3 days on average to be processed, in as little as 2 to 3 minutes through their system. Plus, instead of answering numerous irrelevant questions, the only questions customers have to answer are those that they know, like if they filed a claim before or if they have pets.

After gathering all the necessary information, Matic will provide a home buyer with a personalized PDF containing its three top picks, with one being highlighted as what Matic thinks as the best option.

Right now, Matic is already working with ten insurance carriers which include National, Stillwater Insurance Group, Homeowners of America, Safeco Insurance, ASI, Foremost Insurance Group, State Auto Insurance Companies, ASI, and Velocity Risk Underwriters.


Onēva is the runner-up of the recently concluded Disrupt SF 2017 Startup Battlefield. This California-based startup enables employers to offer elder, infant and child care, as well as housecleaning and other in-home services as employee benefits.

According to an article published by TechCrunch about Onēva, all its providers’ backgrounds are FBI-verified. In addition to that, they have also gone through strict criminal background checks, reference checks, and ID verification.

Primarily, Onēva aims to bring the gig economy to the corporate world, minus all the risks of hiring unqualified or unvetted persons.

Since February of this year, Onēva has been working on its pilot program with Microsoft and according to its CEO, Anita Darden, the results have been staggering.

In a separate statement to TechCrunch, Microsoft’s Director of Supplier Diversity and Global Procurement, Fernando Hernandez said:

 “The fact that it’s being brought about by a woman, and a minority woman at that is pretty cool.”

Microsoft also confirmed that the new employee benefit has been popular and they are aiming to roll it out to all Microsoft employees in the future. Hernandez added:

“There’s a need for it in the market. Whether you’re at the young end and need childcare or at the other end looking at elder care or find yourself in that sandwich generation where you need both, the need is high.”


Now, we’re down to our last finalists and the proclaimed winner of the Disrupt SF 2017 Startup Battlefield. The question now is what made this company stood out from the rest?

Well, Pi had its humble beginning inside one of MIT‘s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, commonly known as CSAIL. The company’s founders, John Macdonald and Lixin Shi was said to have met by chance in an entrepreneurship class that their peers and teachers pushed them to take. Macdonald was quoted as saying:

“Without that school, we wouldn’t exist.”

Apparently, the name Pi itself was derived from MIT’s way of celebrating Pi which includes announcing school admissions on Pi Day or every March 14th. Pi’s innovation involves a wireless charger which they called the Pi Charger.

According to them, the Pi Charger can charge multiple devices within a foot of the device in any direction or orientation. While it’s not the full-room wireless concept that many tech companies are working on right now, Macdonald and Lixin’s creation can provide better flexibility over a pad charger.

Pi Charger
Pi Charger | Pi |

The Pi Charger uses resonant induction, the same concept that powers the Qi charging standard found in the new iPhones and many Android phone today. However, what separates the Pi Charger from the Qi is that it is equipped with a beam-forming algorithm that lets the charger safely direct a magnetic field to wherever that gadget is located.

“What’s at the heart of this is this algorithm that lets us shape a magnetic field,” John explained to TechCrunch. “It’s an old idea… but, the real genius behind this — my co-founder Lixin [Shi] — he was able to reduce this problem that was so complicated that you’d need several minutes of compute time on the latest i7 processor to solve. He came up with these matrices that could prove that you could get to an optimal solution in just two clock cycles on a simple microcontroller.”

During the final round, the duo demonstrated the capability of the Pi Charger which successfully charged five devices (four smartphones and a tablet) simultaneously.

According to Macdonald, Pi hopes to eliminate the need for wired chargers that are messy and can only charge one device at a time. An effective solution for people who own multiple devices and are always on the go.

To give you a better insight of the Pi Charger, here are some of the questions the judges asked Macdonald and Lixin during their final pitch at the Disrupt SF 2017 Startup Battlefield.

Pi – Battlefield Judge Q&A:

How far can it charge?

About 12 inches in any direction; above, to the side or below.

How fast can it charge?

It varies by distance; right next to the device, it charges at full speed. The further the device is from the Pi, the slower it is.

What’s your pricing going to look like at volume?

We don’t have exact pricing today, but it’ll be well under $200 and we’ll maintain above 50 percent gross margin.

Have you thought about making a component that can be plugged into something like Google Home, or existing wired devices?

Yes! Absolutely.

How can you make a lot of money here?

A lot of it has to do with the verticals we can reach. We’re starting with consumer, but the enterprise is what we want to follow up with. If you use it at home, you’ll want one in the office. If there’s one in the office, you’ll want one in the conference room.

Will it work with laptops?

This one won’t; the max power output of this device is 20w. We can increase that with different components.

Are you building cases for existing devices?

Yes—for the sake of backwards compatibility. You won’t need a case for future phones, like the iPhone 8.

Right now, the Pi Charger has no definite price yet but Macdonald said that they expect to ship it for under $200 USD next year.

That’s it, folks! Until the next TechCrunch Disrupt conference! Stay tuned here at Edgy Labs as we continue to cover the latest tech events and conferences happening today.

Do you agree that Pi deserves to take home the Disrupt SF 2017 Startup Battlefield Cup? If now, who do you think deserves it? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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