Meet the second wave of Disrupt Audience Choice roundtable winners

We asked TechCrunch readers to vote for the roundtable sessions they would most like to see at TC Disrupt on October 18–20 in San Francisco, and startup fans from around the world have spoken.

Roundtables — some of the most popular sessions at TechCrunch Disrupt — are 30-minute expert-led discussions designed for up to 20 attendees who share an interest in a particular subject. The format allows for deeper conversation, questions and answers and time for attendees to connect with and explore collaborative opportunities.

Before we reveal the next five roundtables that received abundant love during our Audience Choice vote-a-thon, here’s a brief reminder from the home office:

Click and save: Buy your pass to Disrupt before prices go up on August 5th 2022, and you can over $1,000.

Ready for an interesting mix of roundtable topics? From solving real-world problems with NFTs, improving AI with better data and disrupting without destroying, to knowing when to launch out of stealth and how to make a graceful, profitable exit — you’ll be hard pressed to pick and choose. What a delightful dilemma.

NFTs for real-world problems

Speaker: Manuela Seve, the CEO of

NFTs are still associated with digital files, but in reality they can be used to solve problems around authenticity, resale and community engagement across art, fashion and even real estate.

In this roundtable, we’ll chat about real use cases — developed through — for certifying art and luxury goods. This includes point-of-sale integrations for legacy brands, shifting paper certificates of authenticity to NFTs, building utility and generating resale royalties.

We’ll also look at how, by using NFTs, you can offer exclusive digital environments and products to loyal followers, fund production of physical objects and experiences and create a tool that empowers creators to retain control of their work and fund any project.

Expanding applications of AI across real estate and beyond

Speaker: Sam Stone, the director of product management, pricing and data, at Opendoor

While buying a home is often one of the largest financial decisions one can make, the process went unchanged for decades until Opendoor rebuilt every part of the transactional experience to be digital, on-demand and more accessible.

Pricing systems are core to Opendoor’s DNA. By developing different machine learning model types and leveraging data science, the company provides a high level of accuracy, coverage and functionality.

This roundtable will draw on our AI, machine learning and data science expertise and focus on finding ways to develop a data-first approach to finance, integrate algorithms and humans, and improve AI with better data.

Lessons from disrupting the disruptors

Speaker: Shaival Shah, the co-founder and CEO at Ribbon

Is it possible to disrupt, be profitable and be beneficial for social good? Disruption is a natural outcome of innovation, but it could risk destroying necessary industry ecosystems. With a nuanced approach, founders can create solutions to relieve industry bottlenecks, develop products that solve tomorrow’s challenges and benefit ecosystem growth rather than flipping it on its head.

In essential industries such as real estate, Wall Street investors and iBuyers increasingly disrupt inventory at the expense of declining homeownership rates. However, disrupting an industry doesn’t have to disrupt the communities it ultimately serves.

Ribbon entered the market to empower everyday buyers with competitive cash offers through an open solution that incentivizes local agents and lenders — instead of stealing their business. In this roundtable, Shaival Shah will share lessons he has learned through that process and the good that can come from disrupting the disruptors.

How will I know? How to pick the right time (and way) to launch from stealth mode

Speaker: Andrej Safundzic, the co-founder and CEO at Lumos

You have a product or idea, you’ve got angel investors and some early customers, and now you’re thinking about launching. When? And how? It’s tempting to launch ASAP, and lots of companies take that plunge.

We took a different launch approach. We went against the grain by challenging ourselves to be storytellers, building a culture we could be proud of and selling while in stealth mode. The world shifted in 2020 and so did our strategy. Like lots of early-stage companies, we had to think fast and place early bets on our go-to-market strategy.

In this roundtable, we’ll talk about the lessons we learned, how we set goals, built infrastructure and thought about growing from a four-person company to a 40-person company — and what we would do differently. Join us and fellow founders who went against the grain and took a different approach to launch their companies from stealth mode.

Startup exits: The good, the bad and the ugly

Speaker: Sam Wong, the CEO coach at Fundable Startups

Startup founders and investors work for years to reach a successful exit. After going through five exit opportunities culminating in four acquisitions, Sam Wong has seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

One exit died at the 11th hour. One deal closed but ended up being a financial bust. Another resulted in five offers. Do you choose the buyer offering tons of stock or the one offering all cash? Yet another deal resulted in a nine-figure acquisition, but probably left money on the table. Sam recently acquired a company, so he’s seen both the buy side and the sell side.

In this roundtable, Sam will discuss salability and due diligence and — to help entrepreneurs position themselves for the best possible exit — he’ll share the inside story of what worked, what didn’t and why.

Check out the first group of roundtables we recently announced and stay tuned for more Audience Choice roundtable winners coming soon!

TechCrunch Disrupt takes place in person on October 18–20 in San Francisco with an online day October 21. Buy your pass before prices go up on August 5th, and you’ll save over $1,000.

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