On Demo Day

I’m on a bus driving from San Antonio to Dallas, where SoftLayer, a supporter of TechStars Cloud 2012, is going to get our entire class cataclysmically drunk. Most of the class is riding along with me. We’re celebrating / mourning the end of the most rewarding, challenging, and productive three months of our lives.

Yesterday was Demo Day for TechStars Cloud 2012. We pitched our young businesses to a group of hundreds of elite investors (plus tons of our supportive friends and families). It’s fair to say that none of us have experienced anything quite like what we went through yesterday.

I’m incredibly proud of the pitch my team delivered. We were definitely among the standouts of the day, although, truthfully, every team was really fucking great. I’m honored to have been part of the inaugural TechStars Cloud class. All the teams are incredibly smart and driven. It’s been a wonderful experience getting to know them, watching their businesses evolve, and drinking way too much with them.

But enough back patting. The point of this post is to share with you the kind of progress a company can make in a program like TechStars. Now, there’s all kinds of progress that can be measured in all kinds of ways: numbers of daily active users, total number of API calls made, amount of storage used, average size of customer, amount committed to your investment round, etc., etc. But I want to focus on what the focus point of Demo Day is: The Pitch.

The Pitch is a science and an art. It has to be incredibly tailored to each business, but there are several themes that are basically required. In no particular order:

  • What the business does now — what has the team already built?
  • What the business could be in the future — where can the team take the company next?
  • Market size — just how big can the business be?
  • An example (and example customer) — have to get concrete here
  • Who the team is
  • Why that team is the right team to execute on the business
  • The ask — how much money the business is trying to raise and how much it already has committed
  • The close — end big and, as Nicole Glaros (aka Pitch Yoda) says, stick the landing

At TechStars, we practiced our pitch literally every week, starting with week one of the program. By the end, we practiced it every day as a class, and Ryan was practicing it at least a dozen times on his own. I already told you how proud I am of the pitch we delivered yesterday. But our early attempts? Well… not so much. And in an effort to open the kimono / show you how the sausage is made, I’m going to share videos of one of the first, horribly embarrassing attempts, and the pitch we gave during Demo Day. The first video is of our pitch from Demo Day.

Demo Day Pitch


The second video is our pitch from week SIX of TechStars. It’s not pretty, but hopefully it demonstrates just how much polish TechStars can put on a group of bumbling nerds.

Week Six Pitch

Pretty stark, right? And this is week SIX. Can you imagine what our week one pitch looked like? I just went through it and I wanted to throw up by the end of it (let me know if you want to see it). Kudos if you even made it through the entire thing — it’s hard for me to sit through it. And we’d love any feedback you have on the Demo Day pitch — good or bad. We welcome any opportunity to have a conversation about us and our business.

So, as I look back on this post, I realize I have no general thesis here. I guess what I want to part with is simply that Demo Day was an amazing experience, as was TechStars. If you get the chance, even if you also are accepted into other accelerators, I’d suggest heavily considering what TechStars has to offer.

As always, hit us up on twitter at @keen_io, or e-mail us at founders@keen.io. You can reach me directly on twitter at @dkador, or e-mail me at dan@keen.io. And, if you feel like this deserves it, give us some love on Hacker News here.