IBridge network lead the presenters at Demo 2007. This non-profit group is a university research aggregator that lets entrepreneurs and their partners search for technologies or research using tags and their internet browser. If someone wants to buy any material they’ve found on the iBridge network the information is transferred as part of an ecommerce transaction.
My standard litmus test for any Demo company has always been the following question: can the company or technology change how something is done, or redefine an existing process or technology? I also ask is myself is the product could help the smartest person I know, a conservative serial entrepreneur with an MBA from Carnegie Melon who lives in the Seattle area. This person is someone now in stealth mode, hip deep in an alternative fuel technology.
The iBridge network passes all of these challenges quite neatly and could help shorten time to market for start-ups.
Salesworks—billed as SalesForce.com for small businesses, is a solid CRM and business optimization tool aimed at the backbone of American community enterprises—small businesses. I loved this company’s pavilion demonstration, which was bottoms up; beginning with the benefit and branching up to features that compliment small businesses. And the folks from this demonstrator were able to give a great demo while being swarmed and battered with some tough questions. Over the years, startups shooting for the small business market have been a regular part of Demo. Salesworks is a great set of tools that fits tongue and groove with an emerging critical CRM tools for small business professionals. I am intimately familiar with other offerings in this space including Intuit’s QuickBooks and an older product called UpShot (which was aimed at ,edium and small businesses. Just because no one has hit it big ibn this space doesn’t mean that the thousand-pound gorilla –oops I meant Intuit—has it locked up. The simple truth is that reaching the small business market is as costly a proposition as it isdifficult. Small business is a horizontal classification, not a vertical and it takes time and money to build a customer base there. And while a start-up is maneuvering the category gorilla settles into an evergrowing nest.
I have numerous friends who are small business professionals. Over the last 20 years I’ve helped at least seven of them make two-footed reluctant jumps into computers and more recently internet marketing.
My favorite small business guy is in the motor cycle accessories business. If you live in northern or north Central California and bought a pair of silk glove liners, after market motorcycle grips, replacement mirrors, light bulbs, or a CobraLink locking device, for your bike or scooter, you’ve probably bought one of the products he sells.
This guy, knows his customers and in some instances he’s worked with them since they worked in their parent’s motorcycle dealerships as teens. Customer relationship management?
Hey, he doesn’t need a computer to remember their birthdays, or to inquire about the health of their ubiquitous shop tabby or calico mousers or much less their last order was.
That’s because he sees his customers at least once a week as he works his way relentlessly along his route. But, after using a complex vertical application that takes up hours of his time without generating sales, he’s slowly coming around to the idea of acquyiring an application that helps him become more efficiently on his route and increases his sales. Salesworks is what I’m going to recommend to him.
SalesWorks was developed by Mission Research, whose existing software is used by non-profits to tracks contacts. The only market segment that’s more cost sensitive than small business is the non-profit segment.
Seagate Dave—one of my favorite Demo 2007 products and something I definitely will add to my portable peripheral hardware collection as soon as it ships. Here’s a device for anyone with a cell phone or portable who wants to install songs, ringtons, photos or other media quickly on another device. Dave is small, fits easily and safely ionto a shirt or briefcase pocket and has an interface that makes transferring data incredibly easy. I loved this product’s specifications and Seagate’s Demo. One of the thing I like most about it, however, may be it’s most risky component—a belief that everyone has working Bluetooth connectivity. Although I continue to believe in Bluetooth, I’m among the many people who have struggled to make it work on my hardware—and this includes my Toyota Prius and an LG phone. As soon as I told a cellphone addicted loved by calling her from Demo, her first question was “will it be available in time for my birthday?”
That’s the kind of excitemnt a good Demo product creates.
(editor’s note to marketing people at Motorola, Apple, Hewlett Packard/Compaq, Lenovo, Danger Research and anyone working on a phone at or for Google) as well other companies—immediately call SeaGate and ink a bundling or optional co-branded accessory deal for DAVE. To go a step further, DAVE would also be a nice accessory for companies such as Trimble Navigation, which produce scientific instrumentation for technical professionals such as surveyors.
SharedBook, from SharedBook Inc.—Here’s another great example of a natural Demo poduct. Software tools and a mechanism that lets me, or a workgroup mark collect and share mutiple sources of information in a shared workspace. Over the last 12 years I’ve seen enough lengthy draft business plans prepared by students and enterepreneurs to jump whole footedly on the idea of custom books. SharedBook meets this need with an online product that doesn’t require twitchy browser add-ons.
I think a lot of people left Demo believing it’s primary application is for so-called family Memory Books. I think SharedBook can be used for much more
As a former Demo producer I recommend that anyone pitching a company for a spot at a future show go to Demo.com and watch this demonstrator’s onstage pitch. As I saw it on-stage my reaction was that I would have included a demo of how to document a company—for example a start-up—as well as a family member. I believe the post event coverage of this product in print media, which positions it as a tool for creating memory books, makes my point.
Vuvox—highly personalized video messaging with very good content creation accessories for establishing a unique look. What I liked about this is its ability to mix and tailor media to fit personal tastes. Could be a big hit among the MySpace teens and others.
Eyejot, a video messaging platform. I thought this demonstrator most of the way way home from Demo. I’m impressed but think this technology is a little late. I’m not being snarky, but video platforms remind me of VOIP service oferings; there are too many out there to survive for very long and the real action here will be in mergers and acquisition—perhaps the ultimate fate of virtually all companies scudding along under Web 2.0 sails.
Note to: Google, Yahoo as well as peripheral makers and entertainment PC manufacturers whose systems include integrated webcams. Act now! Lock either onf of these companies before the gate shuts close in your face.
Splashcast was another outstanding company at Demo 2007 and had perhaps one of the best on-stage demonstrations I’ve ever seen. Splashcast is media syndication at a level that most consumers will love. The people in the audience down here who really grokked Splashcast were fathers of daughters who instinctively understood that this product is coming into their homes as soon as it’s available. Like SharedBook, I recommend that anyone who wants to learn how to do a dtrop dead effective demo, go to Demo.com and watch this presentation. I believe it sets a high bar.
Well, I need to pay attention to my domestic mammalian overlords, who greeted me when I came in the door with much lap running through the house, jumping on the credenza and licking of my face.
I have one more Demo 2007 post which I’ll put up later. I’m back from Demo 2007 happy on my hilltop here in rural northern San Diego County—Jim Forbes 02/01/2007
(mandatory disclosure: I am a former Demo producer and the editor of its associated newsletters. I am retired now, and have no monetary or other connection with the Demo organization.)