DEMOfall 2011: From Online Death and Fashion Augmented Reality to Music Robots and Reid Hoffman

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ReidDEMOfall in mid-September kicked off simultaneously with a bunch of other industry events in Silicon Valley. A host of 80 companies presented on-stage and held court in the pavillion at the Santa Clara Hyatt in California.

They also did one-on-one fireside-like chats with a host of industry illuminaries, including LinkedIn and Greylock’s Reid Hoffman (left) and Intuit’s Chairman of the Board Bill Campbell (interviewed by Brad Stone from Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek).

Brad Stone asked Bill what he learned from Steve Jobs. The very first thing Bill came back with, without hestitation was product….having a great product.

He spoke with a sentimental voice as he talked about Steve Jobs and his legacy he has left the industry with so far, obviously referring to his recent step-down. Bill also talked about the importance of product management and having a great team in place. “The real role of the product manager is getting the product design right,” he says. “Simplicity is key. Keep the UI simple….” He paused. “That’s what I learned from Steve Jobs.”

Cloud was covered on more than one occasion, starting with a panel discussion on how mid and large-sized companies are adapting to the cloud. Matt Marshall interviewed Cisco’s VP Sheila Jordan and John Petrone, CTO and Senior VP of Autobytel.

Below is Geoffrey Moore, Managing Director, TCG Advisors/Venture Partner, Mohr Davidow Ventures.

Oneoneone

Another cloud technology discussion happened with Accel Partner’s Chuck Ganapathi, Jive Software’s David Gutelius, Microsoft’s Dan’l Lewin and The Founder’s Institute’s Adeo Ressi. Enterprise technology sages Larry Augustin from SugarSRM, Tom Gillis from Cisco and Paul Santinelli from North Bridge Venture Partners were interviewed by IDG Enterprise Senior VP John Gallant.

“When you go enterprise, go BIG if you’re doing a start-up,” says Tom Gillis. “Think of virtualization of the data center and video, which are going to be big and disruptive.” While there was an emphasis on encouraging start-up founders to focus, Larry Augustin added a potential danger in getting too focused.

“Don’t let focus focus focus restrict you and narrow you into small company mentality and thinking,” says Larry. All agreed that while consumer start-ups have to think about the social and user experience and getting user adoption, focusing on the customer is what is most key for enterprise companies.

Whodini screengrab WhoDini was one of the favorites of some of the industry experts, at least two calling its “indexing” feature great.

Think of it as an enterprise platform which automates the discovery of expert coworkers based on expertise, experience, connections and responsiveness. Whodini delivers the right person, right away. It’s a cool concept and received a positive response from the audience and panelists.

Also high on the list was Fluxx from Fluxxlabs, who someone said of its capabitilies: I like the information processing part of it, but it really needs to include my inbox.”

OLogic, Inc. brought their new robot onto the DEMOfall stage. (there always seems to be at least one robot at DEMO each year). A.M.P. is what they call him, an Automated Music Personality, which they call the world’s first two-wheeled, self-balancing smartphone accessory. (wow, that’s a mouthful, no? Call it a robot which delivers great music – it’s a helluva lot simpler).

The other cool thing is that this self balancing “robotic” music player can be operated using a Smartphone (only android for now). The price point they say is about $400 or potentially less. (reasonable for a product in this category).

Robot

MashOn, Inc. announced Dabble which they refer to as the “Cure for the common shop.” CRIKEY, this is their explanation of Dabble.

“Dabble is an HTML5 patent-pending embeddable web application that provides a comprehensive product personalization and customization platform and “on-demand” manufacturing solution for shop owners operating on the leading eCommerce platforms. Dabble’s Cart Adaptor technology, Fulfillment Adaptor, Product Customization Tool, and Self-Service Administration Dashboard work together to provide “The Cure for the Common Shop.” WHOAHH Nelly. Are you kidding? Simplify baby, didn’t you hear Bill Campbell’s message?

Then, there was one of my favorite apps which of course threw me (and everyone around me) when they first walked on stage. I-Memorial.com has a place where you can leave your legacy after you die on i-Tomb.net.

Imagine a place where you can set up your messages, videos, photos for people to see after you die. He walks on stage and says to the DEMO audience, “we are here to transform death.” Half the room laughs, while some are likely uncomfortable. Is this for real we’re all thinking. Yup, and after I listened to their pitch in detail, I began to think, “what a great idea.”

From the traditional grave to the virtual tomb, they are allowing every person to build their own immortality: the resting place of the deceased. i-Tomb is a collection of videos, text and photos of the deceased, in other words, life after life.

Itomb

You can leave virtual flowers, a candle for someone or share your feelings about your son or daughter on video that they can listen to after you pass away. You can also leave your “death wishes” in a particular section on the site such as how you want to die, flowers and music you want at your funeral and so on. They are launching in 14 languages and targeting people aged 40 years and older.

The other demo I liked is Schedulicity, which is an online appointment scheduling app, aimed at helping small businesses save hours a day and increase profitability by eliminating the hassles of scheduling with pen and paper.

By offering online service scheduling 24 hours a day through multiple digital channels, businesses are able to easily and effectively attract new business, increase the frequency with which their current clients book appointments, decrease cancellations and concentrate on providing the best possible service during their business hours.

They have also integrated with Facebook, so small businesses can receive bookings through their Facebook page using Schedulicity’s scheduling widget.

Facebook

trueRSVP did an alpha pitch, demonstrating how frustrating the RSVP process is today by using a woman in a wedding address whose husband-to-be didn’t show up at the altar. It is the first RSVP system that’s flake-proof. By providing five RSVP options and multi-faceted algorithm factors in attendees’ reliability, event planners can now get a more accurate estimate of how many people will actually show up.

Truersvp
AND, since I’m a bit of a fashionista, here’s a call out to Fitting Reality. Female Russian CEO – Inga Nakhmanson, did a great job explaining the simplicity of the service on stage. Using VIPodium, which is based on Augmented Reality technology, you can virtually try on clothes either at home or in the store.

Create virtual outlooks, mix-and-matching items from different brands and collections from all over the world. Try it on and share this experience with your friends and stylists to get advice.  Below, see an example with Topshop.

Below is a video of the panel on consumer technology sages: SofTech’s Jeff Clavier, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Ellen Pao and Aileen Lee, Menlo Ventures’ Shervin Pishevar and Nextdoor.com’s Nirav Tolia.

Below is a group shot of the DEMOfall “demo god” winners on stage on the last day.

Demogodawards
Other things about the event and their company “gives.” Demo offers full scholarships to 20 companies who are “bootstrapping it” and have raised $500,000 in funding or less. Within the 20, there are several specific charters that are supported by the following sponsors:

  • Women Entrepreneurs – this scholarship goes hand-in-hand with the Startup America Partnership, IDG and the Kauffman Foundation to support a scholarship for four companies with female CEO’s and an additional two, available for women led digital media companies.
  • Minority Digital Media Entrepreneurs – Scholarships for up to two minority-led digital media companies.
  • AARP – New scholarships to help two entrepreneurs pitch the next great idea for Americans 50+.
  • Qualcomm – Four scholarships specifically for wireless companies.

Here’s a link to the DEMO flickr set so you can go on a visual journey of this year’s fall event.

Photo credits: Stephen Brashear

Renee Blodgett
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Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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