12 Days to Demo Day.
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Patience and Understanding – (Sorry this is a day late y’all) This next week is going to be really challenging for the entire CANDL team. We have a lot of things to pull together in preparation of Demo Day on April 19th. So if we miss a call, meeting, deadline, or detail, please accept our sincere apology in advance!
1. Our Demo Day presentation is coming along really well. The text is mostly there, the slides are coming together, and we just have a ton of practice to do between now and next week.
2. My co-founder and I had a chance to spend some time with our families during their Spring Breaks. Just a few more weeks until we’re reunited with our families permanently 🙂
We’re all a little tired. Techstars is a phenomenal experience, but Week 12 feels a lot like Mile 20 of a marathon – that part where you don’t really like running anymore and just want to go to bed, but you have to put one foot in front of the other to get to the finish line.
1. Prepare Demo Day pitch, demo, prototype, and handouts (All)
2. Filing the patent(s) with Cooley (the co-founder)
Atlanta’s Spring Break was this week, and both my co-founder and I got to spend at least part of the week with our families. The co-founder’s family came out to Colorado for the week, and I went to Florida to spend 4 days with Nicole, our sons Andy and Ryan, and Nicole’s parents Richard and Nancy Hyde at their oceanfront condo.
I got to throw the boys around the ocean and spend some great family time with everyone one last time before the end of the Techstars program.
Sunny, warm, and all together. Well except for our puppy Georgia – she couldn’t make the trip.
Founder Story – Ryan Martens, Rally Software & Pledge 1%
Possibly the most powerful Founder Story of the entire series during this program was delivered by Ryan Martens, CTO and Founder of Rally Software. Ryan walked us through his story starting and growing Rally into one of the most iconic companies in the world of Agile development, and how it was ultimately acquired by CA Technologies in 2013.
Ryan talked a lot about the intentionality around the culture they built at Rally, and how he helped form the organization Pledge 1% – the non-profit organization co-founded by Atlassian, Sales Force, Rally and Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado that encourages companies to give 1% of product, revenue, or time to social causes.
The most compelling – and relevant to CANDL – part of Ryan’s talk was where he talked about how companies see social missions as ‘obligations’ when they should be seen as ‘responsibilities’. As businesses, we are RESPONSIBLE for caring for the world around us. That nuance in thinking is actually huge – when you think about the WHY in our decision-making.
Demo Day Preparation
The pitch is coming together nicely now. Right now we’re working on integrating the slides with the story. There are some moving parts (literally) to our pitch in the Demo section, and that’s been a little challenging to pull together, but we’ll get it there.
We’re blessed to have so many people helping us on a daily basis – Mindy Nies, Bradley Sherwood, Spencer Roth, Madison Kerndt, and of course Natty and Julie, and several others who are reading, revising, tweaking, and reviewing our work. Thank you to all of you helping us!
Closing Thought: The Power of Pitching.
On Day 1 of every Techstars program, a clock starts counting down. The end of each program culminates in a Demo Day presentation, usually in front of at least 1,000 people in a huge venue. It’s a chance for the entrepreneurs to feel a little bit like rockstars, and to get the (updated, improved) message of their company out in the open.
Some people think Techstars puts too much emphasis on Demo Day and pitching, and I’ve heard both pro and con arguments even within our own cohort on this topic.
Last spring, I was at a local event in Atlanta watching companies pitch. One company stood out – by a long mile. They were Borrowing Magnolia. I have literally zero interest in the wedding dress rental market, but I was absolutely drawn in to their presentation.
Little did I know at the time they were a Techstars Boulder company.
Techstars alumni talk about how they love having a ‘go-to’ pitch they can belt out literally in their sleep if they had to. They talk about how the focus on Demo Day forced them to really think through their value proposition – to tighten up the words so they can more clearly articulate who they are and why they exist.
It’s not entirely about Demo Day itself. It’s about using the pitch to sharpen your presentation of a complex technology into crisp, clear, and compelling mic-dropping lines.
I will spend the next 12 days memorizing, rehearsing, tweaking, and locking in the CANDL pitch – the one I’ll be able to tell in my sleep for years to come. Demo Day is only the first time we’ll tell our story, and certainly not the last.