Rebooting DemoCamp


CC-BY-NC-SA-20  Some rights reserved by hyfen
AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by hyfen

DemoCamp was conceived in 2005. I have hosted approximately 30 events (I only missed one and that resulted in 2 companies that eventually exited: Bumptop and Sysomos). It has been 7 years. But the world has changed. There were no accelerators or cyclotrons. There was no iPhone or Android. And while Demo and DemoCamp continue to work (see mHealthDemoCamp, Hamilton, Guelph, Edmonton, Eclipse and others). The format is simple (DIY instructions here).  But I’m feeling like it is time to open a broader discussion about the role events like DemoCamp should play.

mHealth DemoCamp

Craig Netterfield (LinkedIn, @cnetterfield) described DemoCamp as “DemoDay for companies that aren’t in an incubator”.  It was an interesting observation about the role DemoCamp played as a structured social process for entrepreneurs, funders and the community. My challenge is that DemoCamp in Toronto can not continue in the same incarnation. I am hoping to have an open conversation and gather feedback from students, founders, employees, funders about how we make it better. There are lots of events in Toronto. I don’t want to do an event for the sake of an event. I want to build something better, something that solves a need that is a catalyst for success of entrepreneurs.

Sources of Event Inspiration

I keep wondering about what is the role of an event like DemoCamp. Is it one of the following?

  • PR and Awareness
  • Recruiting
  • Inspiration
  • Education
  • Social

Does an event like DemoCamap need to exist?

“Good things happen to you at events” – Nivi

Events are great. They allow individuals an opportunity and to interact in social norms, we are inherently social animals. And events “are the place to meet people who won’t meet with you. People who aren’t available over email or one-on-one go to events to make themselves available”. But it is the social norms or the event dynamics that can make for meaningful experiences. There is an assumption that we should continue hosting events like DemoCamp and Founders & Funders. The assumption is that these events are valuable to entrepreneurs, developers, designers, marketers and others.

The thing about events is that someone has to organize and pay for them. What are the costs? Facilities, audio/visual, ticketing, insurance, bar staff, liquor license, etc. While we strive for $0 or low cost to attendees, there are still hard costs that have to be covered. (And this doesn’t include lost opportunity costs of not working on other things). The Brad Feld book tour event for example had costs of approximately $17000. These costs included books, space rental, food, and staff. The books were the offset/proxy for the travel expenses for bringing a guest speaker. We had basically 2 revenue streams: sponsorship and ticket sales. But the goal was to host an amazing event with a great speaker that derived real value for entrepreneurs and policy makers.

What would you do to completely reboot DemoCamp? How would you change the event? What do you find valuable? Is it worth rebooting? What changes would you like to see?

Please fill out the survey and leave a comment!

    "Other" is I would use...
  • Can we follow up with you?

DEMO Innovation tour returns

Some rights reserved by The DEMO Conference
AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by The DEMO Conference

The Demo Innovation is Everywhere tour is coming back to Canada with stops in Toronto & Montreal. The event includes 2 parts, a chance to pitch/present to local VCs (Rogers Ventures) and a social party. Last years event was fantastic.

We invite you to submit an application for a 30 minute private meeting with the DEMO team and leading Venture capitals in a city near you. We have ten spots available per tour stop. Each company selected will also have the opportunity to address a larger audience at the DEMO Tour party in the evening open to the entire DEMO community of VCs, investors, media and PR professionals.

Location Date Register
Vancouver, BC Canada June 23rd, 2011
Toronto, ON Canada June 28th, 2011

Reminder: DEMO + VentureBeat in Toronto on Jan 13

DEMO Launchpad for Emerging Tech

Rogers VenturesOur friends at Rogers Ventures are hosting a DEMO day with VentureBeat on January 13, 2011. This is part of a east coast swing that includes New York and Toronto. They are looking to finalize the presenting companies. If you are interested in being one (1) of the ten (10) companies make sure you apply to present.

The great news is that even if you don’t/can’t pitch for the full day session there are still lots of opportunities. You can join the social happening at the Century Room on King St W starting at 7:30pm. You need to register to attend.

It’s great that we’ve built a strong community of entrepreneurs, marketers, designers and developers in Toronto. It’s attracting world-class folks like Matt Marshall (@mmarshall) and Nate Werlin to brave the cold and snow (though still way less than NYC) and find great startups in Toronto. We even have DEMO alumni and DEMOgods like Scott Annan and Alec Saunders (though both are from Ottawa, hmmmm). It’s got me thinking we need to host another DemoCamp at some point in the near future. Stay tuned and I’ll see you on Jan 13th.

Full details at VentureBeat.