7 Tips for Crushing It on Demo Day
Demo day is the culmination of accelerator programs, including Techstars. Companies, investors, mentors and the community come together to review the progress that companies made and to celebrate their hard work.
Here are the seven tips for how to maximize the impact of your demo day.
1. Set clear goals.
Whatever you are doing, be sure to have a plan. Don't come to demo day unprepared and thinking that great things will magically happen for you. It won't work. Have clarity on what you are trying to get out of the demo day and focus on that. See my GMT post for more on how to do this.
Want to meet investors? Review who is coming and how you will connect. Want to generate more business? Run a special. Want to create buzz? Connect with the press and post on social media. Whatever your goals are, plan ahead to make sure you hit them.
2. Deliver an awesome pitch.
Your pitch is the key ingredient of a demo day. Make it awesome, make it memorable, make it amazing. You are up against other companies, and even worse, against people's phones. Make investors, the press and everyone else pay attention.
Make sure the pitch is clear and deliver it slowly. You know your business, and everything makes sense in your head. But the audience does not, and when you go fast, they can't follow you. They tune out.
To make the pitch go slower, you will need to have less words. You will need to make each sentence shorter and simpler. It is an exercise in deleting words that don't matter.
3. Make a splash.
Have a trick up your sleeve? A big announcement? Big new customer? Big promotion? A great new angel investor? Something else truly remarkable? Announce it on demo day. This is the place and time for big news and big reveals.
4. Meet investors.
Most companies coming out of Techstars and other accelerators are looking to raise financing. Demo day is a great place to connect with investors, particularly angel investors.
Make it super clear during your pitch how investors can connect with you. Plan ahead, understand who is coming and who is relevant to you, reach out to them and book your meetings. Have a strategy for meeting investors during demo day.
5. Put your entire team to work.
You have a team, and a demo day is a great place to put your entire team to work. Don't just rely on your CEO to do everything. CEOs will be super busy with the pitch, investors and media.
Plan ahead and have the team help the CEO. Every founder and early team member should be able to do the elevator pitch, look for investors, meet the press, help sift through people and schedule meetings.
6. Generate buzz.
Own the press and social media. Identify the key reporters and reach out to them ahead of time. Explain your business clearly and concisely. Emphasize progress and articulate your road map. Prepare tweets and Facebook posts, and ask your team, family, friends, customers to amplify your message during the demo day.
Press and social media buzz will help you get more investor and customer interest.
7. Make plans for after the demo day.
Demo day is not the end of your journey. Maximize the demo day by planning for weeks ahead. Schedule investor meetings and press interviews. Announce more things in weeks after the demo day. Come up with the plan to execute your fundraising and sustain the buzz around your company.
Alex Iskold is the managing director of Techstars in New York City. Previously Iskold was founder/CEO of GetGlue (acquired by i.tv), founder/CEO of Information Laboratory (acquired by IBM) and chief architect at DataSynapse (acquired by TIBCO). An engineer by training, Iskold has deep passion and appreciation for startups, digital products and elegant code. He likes running, yoga, complex systems, Murakami books and red wine -- not necessarily in that order and not necessarily all together. He actively blogs about startups and venture capital at http://alexiskold.net.