DemoDay Insider: Spokal
Reflections on BCTIA DemoDay 2013
Guest Post By Alexandra Skey, Co-Founder of Spokal
What used to be a rare and special occasion has become mainstream, just like how it’s “cool to be nerdy” again. There are countless Demo Day’s around the world, as graduates from more than 200 accelerators take the stage and show off their wares on a regular basis.
That being said, I was thrilled when we were invited to participate in BCTIA’s 2013 Demo Day because they were doing something different.
Instead of pushing young companies through a 90 day accelerator program, BCTIA chose to showcase local ones, at various stages of growth, to the community and help them build partnerships to accelerate their sales and strengthen the BC tech ecosystem.
Many of the founders this year have built real companies. If you’re a start-up entrepreneur, you know what I mean. They actually have customers, revenues and one of the teams (QuickMobile) was even pushing 150 employees.
It was an honour to share the stage with them.
What was the best part about Demo Day?
Unlike most of the pack, Spokal isn't an enterprise play, so for us Demo Day was less about landing a meeting with a big client and more about seizing the opportunity to meet and collaborate with local entrepreneurs.
When I think about our Demo Day experience, I see the faces of the founders and remember our laughter, frustration, and collaboration during the pitch sessions – it’s fun to bring people from different companies together and work as a new team on a short project.
I loved that sense of camaraderie as we were helping each other try to explain our business in 5 minutes, and wondering why it’s such a challenge!
It was priceless.
What was my biggest takeaway?
Don’t plan for perfection because no matter how rehearsed you are, life happens.
(I learned this a few years ago, so now when I practice, my cofounder Chris interrupts me and tries to make me laugh or slip up, so if something "out of the ordinary" happens during the presentation it doesn’t bother me because I’m used to carrying on.)
And of course, the day didn’t go as planned…
I rolled over in bed and thought it was strange that my clock said 7:59am - that couldn’t be right because I had to be at the theatre at 7:45am. And I was getting up at 6am to practice.
That feeling when you can’t believe what’s happening.
I’ve never showered and dressed so fast. I wasn’t sure I was breathing. Thankfully Wendy, Margarita and the rest of the BCTIA team worked their magic and squeezed us in for a tech run before the doors opened.
Then minutes before I was supposed to present, I accidentally bumped my laptop so it shutdown. It took a few minutes to queue up the presentation and videos I had planned (I usually don’t rely on video or the internet in a pitch because too much can go wrong, but this was an exception as we were required to showcase our product with a demo), so I’m sitting there encouraging my laptop to “HURRY UP!” and silently praying for Trevor from QuickMobile to keep going, so I don’t hold the audience of 200 hostage while I’m prepping my deck.
Thankfully the timing was perfect - I had 20 seconds to spare before it was our turn to share Spokal’s story.
I love presenting and I had a ball. I think the judges saw that, as they awarded us with the Investor’s Choice Award. It was really exciting for Spokal, because it shows that our community supports and believes in small businesses (Spokal automates online marketing for small business owners who are too busy to figure it out themselves).
Some of my favourites from the day were Brian presenting scenes of indie films for CineCoup, Richard showing off Bill Gates using his platform, Memelabs, and Ray demoing Helen Mirren using SMART Pics. They did a smashing job!
If you’re curious what we said, you’re welcome to check out videos of our presentations.
Would I do it again?
It was fun, we had chance to work with local entrepreneurs, and we attracted some customers in the process.
It was a day to remember.
Missed DemoDay 2013? Don't fret!
Check out the pictures on Flickr, take a look at each of the DemoDay companies, or see what go! Vancouver (on ShawTV) had to say!