Arrington, McClure, Damelin, DeRycker, Hommels, Rimer — Our Disrupt Europe Battlefield Finals Judges

A central aspect of any Disrupt event is the Battlefield startup competition, and at TechCrunch Disrupt Europe there will be no exception to this. This is where new companies reveal themselves to the world on the day, usually completely out of stealth mode, launching there and then. Former competitors to have launched on the Battlefield stage include Yammer, and Dropbox, to name just a few. It’s been a central part of the annual TechCrunch conference since TechCrunch Founder Michael Arrington famously disrupted the industry by putting startups through a rigorous selection programme, not on their ability to pay a fee to appear on the main stage (still, alas, a blight on our industry) but on just how good their product and team was. So, not only do startups get put through their paces by TechCrunch editorial and event staff, but they are then grilled by on-stage judges and finally pitch to the Finals Judges on the last day. In the past we’ve had some of the biggest names in tech be Finals Judges, and in Berlin we’ll be assembling some of the biggest names from Silicon Valley and Europe.

They’ll be among the many amazing speakers we’ll have at the event, so you’d better grab a ticket now. Disrupt Europe will take place from October 26-29 (Hackathon on 26-27; Main Event on 28-29) and there is lots more info here.

12794v6-max-250x250Michael Arrington
General Partner, Crunchfund Founder, TechCrunch

J. Michael Arrington (born March 13, 1970 in Huntington Beach, California) is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of TechCrunch, a blog covering startups and technology news.

Arrington attended Claremont McKenna College (BA Economics, 1992) and Stanford Law School (JD, 1995) and practiced as a corporate and securities lawyer at two law firms: O’Melveny & Myers and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. His clients included idealab, Netscape, Pixar, Apple and a number of startups, venture funds and investment banks. He also co-authored a book on initial public offerings.

In 1999, he left WSGR to join RealNames as VP of Business Development and General Counsel. In 2000, he cofounded Achex, an online payments company, that was later acquired by First Data Corp for $32 million. Achex is now the back end infrastructure to Western Union online.

Arrington worked in an operational role at a Carlyle backed startup in London, founded and ran two companies in Canada ( and, was COO to a Kleiner-backed company called Razorgator, and consulted to other companies, including Verisign.

In May 2008, Time Magazine named Michael Arrington as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

errolErrol Damelin
Founder & CEO, Wonga

Errol is a global entrepreneur and seasoned executive who loves building innovative businesses with inspirational people. He is the founder and chief executive officer of digital finance company,, a London based company which is backed by some of the world’s leading VCs including Accel, Balderton, Greylock, Oak and the Wellcome Trust. In the past couple of years Errol has been named Entrepreneur of the Year at the UK’s Growing Business Awards, The Guardian’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Founder of the Year at the The Europas European Startup Awards, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for London and Digital Entrepreneur of the Year.

Prior to founding Wonga, he successfully co-founded two other substantial businesses, on different continents and in completely different markets. Most recently he was founder and chief executive of Supply Chain Connect Ltd, which he developed to become a leading provider of hosted supply chain collaboration solutions. With offices in the UK and US, the company serviced over 250 blue chip customers – including General Cable, Pirelli, Dow Chemical and DuPont – and was acquired by ChemConnect in 2005. Wonga is undoubtedly Errol’s most ambitious project yet. It is the first company in the world to fully automate the lending process and approved loans are usually paid into bank accounts within minutes. Not only does Wonga provide our small loans in a clear and flexible manner, but it is highly selective about the people and businesses it helps.

To date the company has provided over five million loans and helped over one million customers. Errol grew up in South Africa and following graduation from business school, he became an investment banker and, while helping entrepreneurs turn their dreams into reality, was inspired to switch roles and become the innovator.

girlSonali De Rycker
Partner, Accel Partners

Sonali has been active in the European venture business for 14 years focusing on investments in the consumer internet and digital media sectors. Sonali is responsible for investments in Avito, Calastone, Housetrip, KupiVIP, Wonga,, Spotify, and Top10. Sonali is also an independent director on the board of IAC. Prior to Accel, Sonali was a Partner at Atlas Venture in London where she invested primarily in internet and software as a service businesses. While at Atlas Venture she led investments in Moo, Globoforce, Skinstore (acquired by and Seatwave.

She was also a board member at Magicalia (acquired by Exponent Private Equity) and Moreover (acquired by Verisign). Sonali started her career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in New York City where she was actively involved in M&A and financings for a number of clients including many high-growth technology businesses. While at Goldman Sachs, Sonali co-founded the Business Development Group, a new business unit within the investment banking division successfully set up to exclusively source and execute on acquisitions of smaller, fast-growing businesses for the Fortune 50. Sonali was born and raised in Bombay, India and speaks fluent Hindi and some Punjabi. She attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania where she received a full merit-based scholarship and graduated magna cum laude in Economics with Honours. Sonali holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

16650v4-max-250x250Klaus Hommels
Founder, Lakestar

Klaus is one of the leading European business angels and founder of Lakestar. He is or has been involved in numerous successful internet investments including QXL/Tradus, Skype, Facebook,, Xing, Klarna, SumUp and Spotify.

He invests in promising start-ups that have the potential to become major players in the internet space.Klaus started his career at Bertelsmann. He joined AOL Germany in 1995 as board member, responsible for business development, content and advertising sales. Klaus was also involved in the establishment of Freenet and was a Venture Partner of Benchmark Capital.

Klaus graduated with a Master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Fribourg in Switzerland and holds a PhD degree in Finance from the same university. He was named “most successful European entrepreneurial private investor of the year” in 2006 by a group comprised of IESE, INSEAD and the University of St Gallen.

In 2011 Klaus was named the NOAH Internet Investor of the year. In 2013, Forbes ranked him first among European investors on the 2013 MIDAS list.

15721v4-max-250x250Dave McClure
500 Startups, Founder, Partner

Dave McClure is a venture capitalist & the founding general partner at 500 Startups, an internet seed fund and startup accelerator program in Mountain View, CA. Dave has been geeking out in Silicon Valley for over twenty years, and has worked with companies such as PayPal,, Founders Fund, Facebook, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Twilio, Simply Hired, O’Reilly, Intel, & Microsoft. He also likes to play ultimate frisbee when his knees don’t hurt.

Dave has been an investor in over 500 companies in the past decade, including: (acqd INTU), SlideShare (acqd LNKD), Twilio, Makerbot (acqd SSYS), SendGrid, Credit Karma, Wildfire Interactive (acqd GOOG), Mashery (acqd INTU), among many others.

Before founding 500 Startups, Dave managed FF Angel LLC, a seed-stage investments program at Founders Fund from 2008-2010, and in 2009 he also managed fbFund, the Facebook seed fund and incubator program. From 2007-2008, Dave was a consultant and advisor to several startups including and oDesk. From 2005-2006, Dave launched and ran marketing for job search engine Simply Hired. From 2001-2004, Dave was Director of Marketing at PayPal (acquired by eBay in 2002), where he started & ran the PayPal Developer Network program. Prior to PayPal, Dave was a database consultant & programmer for several companies, including Microsoft and Intel. In 1994 he founded Aslan Computing, an internet and e-commerce firm later acquired by Servinet/Panurgy in 1998.

Dave is a founder of Startup2Startup, a monthly dinner series for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors, and founder of GeeksOnaPlane, an international travel and cultural exchange program for technology entrepreneurs and investors. He has been a visiting lecturer on social networking platforms and applications at Stanford University. Dave has been an advisor to microfinance organizations Unitus & Kiva, and he graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 1988 with a BS in Applied Mathematics & Engineering.

neilNeil Rimer
Founder and Partner, Index Ventures

Neil Rimer is a Partner of Index Ventures which he founded in Geneva with Giuseppe Zocco and David Rimer. Neil started the venture capital activity of Index’s predecessor firm, later co-founding Index Ventures and raising the firm’s first fund in 1996. Prior to this, Neil spent four years with Montgomery Securities in San Francisco.

Neil’s current investment interests include Internet media, e-commerce, entertainment and education businesses as well as capital-efficient, information-oriented cleantech companies. He currently serves on a number of boards including FundingCircle, doubleTwist, HouseTrip, Lehigh Technologies, MOO Print, Netvibes, Photobox, Redwood Systems, Stack Exchange and Weatherbill. Previously; Neil sponsored and served on the boards of Betfair (LSE:BET.L), (CBS), Ofoto (Kodak), Trolltech (Nokia) Listen (Real Networks), Numerical Technologies (Synopsis) and Genmab (SDE: GNA) and Stepstone. Neil also sits on the board of Human Rights Watch and has also served on the board of U.C. Sampdoria, a football club competing in the Italian Serie A.

As well as the Battlefield, during Disrupt we’ll have a “Startup Alley” where companies can chat to the passing VCs, media and delegates about what they do.

To get an idea of it check out these videos from one of the days at our most recent Disrupt event, in New York, or this video with clips from other Alleys past.

You can apply for a spot by emailing

If you would like information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact our sponsorship team here or get more info here.