Startups battle for $50,000 and killer buzz

At this week's TechCrunch Disrupt, dozens of startups fought, tournament-style, to impress judges and investors. Here's our pick of the 5 coolest new technologies on display.

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It takes a village to fix a buggy PC
It takes a village to fix a buggy PC
Roee Adler, Soluto's chief product officer

Tomer Dvir, Ishay Green
Headquarters: Tel Aviv, Israel
Launched: 2007
Winner of $50,000 Tech Crunch Disrupt Award

In a field filled with Web-based and mobile apps, Soluto stood out starkly. It's old-fashioned, runs-on-a-computer software. But the startup trounced all others by tackling a universal problem: PC troubleshooting.

Soluto's software monitors the PC it's installed on for common annoyances -- printing problems, crashy apps, resource hogs, and odd application hang-ups -- and then offers a solution for fixing it. The cool twist is that Soluto's solutions are community-generated. If one user, anywhere in the world, fixes a problem, Soluto can share that solution with others who have the same problem

To pull that off Soluto created PCGenome, a global knowledge base of "PC frustration data." That database can help users track down tricky hardware/software conflicts, a feature judges loved. "When we launched Google Desktop, we had a conflict with photo software on HP PCs. Took 2.5 months to track it down," Google's Marissa Mayer commented.

But the judges were very concerned about privacy, asking Soluto's inventors for details about what kind of data they're collecting from as their software hums away on PCs.

"We don't want to know who our users are," Roee Adler, Soluto's chief product officer, insisted. The software requires no registration and keeps the technical details it collects anonymous.

Soluto, now in beta, plans to use a "freemium" business model: When Soluto pops up with a troubleshooting fix, users will be able to make the fixes themselves for free, or they can pay for a service that will automatically fix problems.

By Fahmida Y. Rashid, contributing writer

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LAST UPDATE: May 28 2010 | 2:31 PM ET
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