Quick Thoughts On Mixing Up The Demo Day Model

The “seed accelerator” model for early-stage investing can and does work well for those running and participating in an accelerator. Yet, the format can frustrate investors who attend. While they are good social events for investors to show up to, the information-overload and herd behavior can make it easier for many investors to just “sit this one out.” In the last few months, friends have invited me to their demo days, their online demo days, their mentor sessions, etc. and I’ve politely declined because I can’t handle the information-overload. I’ve had this conversation with many investors over the years, and thought I’d try an exercise of listing some ideas that could potentially work. I’m writing this so others can either offer other ideas or explain why these ideas below wouldn’t be useful.

As a disclaimer, I’m not suggesting that investors need to be catered to — but rather, these are ideas for the accelerators to help their companies get funded faster and for higher amounts over time. Thanks in advance for your point of view…

1/ Publish and distribute lists with standardized information: It would be helpful to have a list or website of every company in a batch with standardized information about the startup, including founder profiles (and social links), existing financing history (AngelList profile?), and other relevant information.

2/ Publish and distribute 1-page recommendations for the team: When someone from an accelerator asks me to check out a certain company, I’d love to know why? The people running these programs are smart and have seen many teams — what’s different or impressive about the current team in question? Why do you like the solution? I know it’s hard to play favorites but I wonder if this approach might lead to tighter ties with downstream investors and also more funding likelihood. (Speaking of which, publishing batch number and funding histories by batch historically would help investors assess any variance.)

3/ Make applications and reviews public (where appropriate): Without disclosing sensitive information, could parts of a company’s information be made as part of the info packet of a company or shared during demo day time? That may already contain the standardized info I’m talking about above.

4/ Try new things: The format of trying to get investors to physically show up to a demo day can be hard for some accelerators. The Bay Area is hard to cover, lots of traffic, lots of competing events — why not mix it up? Maybe get a bus and go to Sand Hill or South Park? Or, why not team up with other accelerators to increase the volume for a half-day or day-long event? Or, why not just put a longer pitch and founder interview on YouTube and keep it open?

5/ Other ideas from you?

Haystack is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2017 Semil Shah.

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”— Epicurus