Now in its 21st year, the technology showcase continues to grow and remains a solid proving ground for launching new companies and technologies. But like any medalist athlete, Demo can improve in order to out stride competitors.
I’ve been part of Demo for most of its life (eventually becoming one of the producers of its event) and I have some pretty strong opinions about Demo’s strengths and its weaknesses.
Right out of the starting blocks, if there’s one thing Demo producers can do to improve the show for demonstrators and attendees alike, it’s to put more effort into coaching companies on how to give demonstrations. Delivering a great pitch to Demo audiences is absolutely not the same thing as pitching to investors.
Although most companies say access to investors is an important reason for coming to Demo, it’s the show’s list working technology reporters and editors that give it its cachet.
A six minute stage presentation that’s aimed at Demo’s press audience can quickly position a company and its technologies in and answer questions on how a company can differentiate itself.
Recently Demo has undergone several improvements that increase its viability and value.
The most important of these is its use of scholarships for very young startups, known as “Alpha Pitch” Presentations. Demo’s scholarship program is underwritten by sponsors such as Microsoft and AARP, and has helped to bring cash strapped new companies into Demo.
The second big change in Demo has been partnerships with organizations like Microsoft BizSpark and StartupAmerica who prescreen potential Demonstrators and pass the cream of their crops onto Demo’s producer as candidates.
The net effect of the changes in Demo has increased attendance and opened the show to companies located outside of the West Coast. You had only to look at the audience and the list of Demonstrators and their locations to see the proof is this change to Demo.
Demo has faced down several challengers in its 21 year history. Now in its third decade, this technology showcase continues to generate homeruns for its demonstrators and audience.
I make no apologies for my grandstand support of the show. The long list of companies and entrepreneurs who have successfully launched at Demo grows every year.—Jim Forbes on May 23/2012.