Demo, the annual technology show case featuring new technology and the startups that hope to bring them to market starts next week and I’m excited about what’s been cooking in various incubators and stealthy small companies for the last year.
I view Demo as a “must attend” event. It’s the only long lasting show that’s consistently served up technology that breaks new ground or defines existing categories. I started attending the show 19 years ago and ended up co-producing the event with its longtime executive producer, Chris Shipley until I was forcibly retired by a stroke in the hours before Demo opened eight years ago.
This year Demo has a new producer. Venture Beat’s Matt Marshall has taken the well-worn baton from Chris Shipley, now the CEO of Guidewire Group. Matt’s strength is his deep knowledge of venture capital, access to which has always been a huge draw for any company that appears at Demo. But Matt is much more than just a connected observer of Venture Capital trends and emerging funding areas, he’s also a very skilled reporter—which I believe may be the paramount qualification for running a show such as Demo.
Demo is now Matt’s to conduct and he’s already expanded the players in his technological symphony orchestra. He’s doing this by using Demo to highlight not just consumer and infrastructure technology startups, but also bringing in new classes of companies in clean energy and health sciences.
It’s the expansion of Demo’s scope that makes me hopeful Demo 2010 will mark a new era in the history of this world class event.
If you attend Demo next week don’t be surprised to feel the hulking presence of the proverbial three thousand pound economic elephant in the room with you. That elephant has been very busy for the last year not just among start-ups but also in the media sector where there have been numerous layoffs of technology journalist’s nationwide. Anecdotally, I know at least three reporters for national print and other media outlets that have been pink slipped since the last Demo. All three were long term Demo attendees, but now that they have to travel on their own dime. They’ll be glued to Demo’s Internet site watching streamed onstage presentations and then hitting Twitter and blog posts with reports.
Demo changes from year to year and no matter what firm is backing an individual entity; it remains a time sensitive snapshot of entrepreneurial efforts. But there are some obvious changes in how Demo is being presented now and they will benefit the show and the companies that have been selected to appear or pitch at Demo. One of the m most obvious changes is the presentation of information relating to how successful Demo presenters have been in raising venture capital and in overcoming the economy. According to Demo’s PR firm, Porter Novelli, over the last five years more than nine of every ten Demo presenters have survived, or been funded within nine months of appearing at the show.
Over a longer, 20-year period, almost one quarter of all Demo demonstrators have received funding.
Kudos to Demo producers Chris Shipley and Matt Marshall as well as Porter Novelli for researching and presenting the information.
I’ll bed on site at Demo beginning Sunday afternoon and look forward to seeing this year’s crop of Demo demonstrators as well as the selected early start-ups who have been picked to pitch their ideas as part of Demo’s new Alpha Pitch program. Oh, if you want to meet me, I’m hard to miss, I’m the guy in a tie-dyed shirt intently watching presenters on stage and in the Demonstrator Pavilion. Jim Forbes on march 03/2010.
(Mandatory disclosure: I am the founding producer of Demo Mobile and co-produced Demo with Chris Shipley. I also wrote DemoLetter Monthly and Weekly as well as Demo Mobile Monthly newsletters).