22 Feb Why companies don't get invited to the DEMO conference
I hope by now you’ve had a chance to absorb all the news from DEMO ’06 (if you haven’t, check out the demonstrators’ stage presentations here — click on DEMO 2006 in the “Watch Demo Videos” window and choose a company).
One question that always swirls around the conference comes from inquiring minds that want to know what wasn’t at DEMO. The premise of the conference, at least in part, is that I look at hundreds of products and companies and bring only the best to the show. Implicit in that proposition is the understanding that the DEMO community will trust my judgment. I think folks do, yet there remains a curiosity. Who didn’t make it? Why?
It takes months to prepare and profile the approximately 70 companies that come to DEMO. Providing a detailed analysis of 300-plus companies that didn’t get selected would be a monumental task . . . and a distraction from the companies that are at the event. That said, I can give you a general profile of the un-invited company. Typically, they have these characteristics, some which can predict the company’s fate, others not so much.
• The founders are out of touch with the market. They are developing a product because they have an idea or some technology and they can build something with it. Never mind that these often very smart engineers have never talked to a potential customer to validate the market or determine customer requirements. They are building products for themselves and they will likely be their own best customers.
• The product is only a slightly better mouse trap. A developer gets fed up with a particular well-adopted application and decides to write a better one. Unfortunately, the “better one” rarely provides significant incentive for change.
• The founders are tremendously naïve. These are often very smart people with very good product ideas; they simply have no idea what it takes to build a company and take a product to market. Don’t get me wrong; I definitely have a soft spot for idealistic entrepreneurs out to change the world. I just expect them to have a realistic view of the world they want to change and a vague idea of what will be required to change it.
• The product or company just isn’t ready. DEMO is a rocket-launcher for young companies, and it is not an experience to be taken lightly. Over the years, I’ve seen some great product ideas fizzle because the company has just not been ready to take advantage of the DEMO opportunity.
• By far the most common reason a company is not invited to DEMO is that the product launch is out of synch with the DEMO calendar. For various reasons, usually driven by a changing customer or partner demand, a company is unable to adhere to our “launch at DEMO” policy.
There’s good news in these last two points for the DEMO faithful. While I won’t spend digital ink on the majority of companies not selected, I will definitely write about the companies whose product timeframes have shifted away from the DEMO window. Those are the stories that will fill these columns in the weeks to come.
But before I turn my attention to the companies that weren’t at DEMO 2006, let me say congratulations and thank you again to the 68 companies that launched incredible new technology at this month’s conference. It was a wonderful showing of diversity, innovation, and creativity. Again, if you’ve not already done so, check out these companies on the DEMO home page.
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