DEMOfall 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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