Thoughts on Techstars Demo Day 2012

Will Washburn and I decided to take time off from our work at Social Blendr to volunteer  at Techstars' demo day. Why? Well, because the NY tech scene is vibrant and what better way to check part of that out than Techstars? “But Khaliq, isn’t this the same TS class you and Will applied for and didn’t get in to?” Well….yes, it is, but regardless, we figured it would be a great experience to see demos of great companies and experience some of that energy and take some notes. However, at 5:15AM when my alarm went off I immediately regretted that decision. By the end of the day, however, I knew helping out and experiencing it was definitely the right decision.

I’m not going to break down every single company, but let me just say that I was overwhelmingly impressed by every single presenter on stage. Tisch, Adam and crew do a great job. But we all know them and see them all the time. The people that even more so impressed me, really running the show were Nicole Frand & Alex Guttler. To have such an extensive operation as Demo Day go through flawlessly is extremely impressive and as a volunteer I was able to see just a small fraction of the work they did.

Random Observations

  • All the companies had introducers that gave a preview and endorsement of the company that came next. Some seemed to be mentors, some were investors. Most common phrase used by almost all of them was “without further ado.” After the first one I began to take notice and am pretty sure every introducer ended with that phrase.

  • The tech world is small. I recognized a few people that I had no idea were even in tech. One from high school, one from college, and one I interned with. Tech must be where all the cool kids are heading.

  • Reading about companies is A LOT different than seeing and hearing them. Admittedly, I yawned after reading about some of the companies. But after experiencing their demos and seeing their energy first hand, those same companies I was yawing at, I now wished I could invest in. Too bad I’m broke running my own startup…

Take Aways

  • The companies that best told a story were the ones that I remembered most. 13 companies are a lot and without a compelling story, sometimes no matter how impressive the company it can be easy to get lost in the fray. I still remember some of the companies pitches because they were centered around a story, or a beard in some cases.

  • Techstars has a huge and impressive network. The room was packed with hungry investors and there was a perceivable buzz around the room after each presentation. The existing investors and partnerships some of these companies had were amazing and I’m sure TS had some help in that.

  • New York is where you want to be. Now, obviously I’m biased because I am in fact, in New York, but it seemed _everyone _was there. I kept recognizing people that I had only seen in twitter pictures previously. I also saw a bunch of former Techstars teams there in support which showed to me how strong the Techstars family is.

Adam and Tisch kept thanking us for helping out, but I really should be thanking them for allowing us to be there. Seeing Demo Day first hand sent me home fired up to keep working on our startup and inspired to continue to chase our big vision.

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