One of the unique aspects of AlphaLab is the “Interim Demo Day” that we hold at the halfway point of the program. It is an opportunity for the companies to present their investor pitch and demo their applications – to a small audience consisting of advisors and IW’s investment team – while still having almost two months to incorporate the feedback into their development and market plans before the Demo Day. Each company gets 15 minutes to present/demo and then is given 10 minutes of American Idol style feedback from the panel of advisors, investors and fellow entrepreneurs.
We held our Interim Demo Day on last Friday and as with our last AlphaLab group, it was a quite a success. It was a great experience for the companies to test their investor pitch, their company messaging and in many cases, to show off the significant progress they’ve already made. While many did an excellent job, every company received constructive feedback on areas to improve and focus on – not only in their investor presentations and demos but also in their business and product strategies. The companies also had an opportunity to better understand what their fellow companies were doing and to see the progress that others have made. While the AlphaLab culture is collaborative and supportive, introducing a competitive dimension is a good motivator for the companies to push themselves harder and collectively raise the bar.
Some takeaways from the Interim Demo Day:
- I appreciated that several companies took some risks with how they presented and demo’ed and were able to get feedback on whether it worked or not. It’ll be interesting to debrief with them this week to hear their interpretations.
- Many of the presenters didn’t highlight the relevance of their experience and background to their company.
- While the “judges” were usually in agreement on the feedback, there were a few cases where there was disagreement. This is one of the challenges for startup companies – investors and advisors all have different perspectives and philosophies and will sometimes emphasize different variables – thus often resulting in seemingly contradictory feedback. The key for entrepreneurs is to understand the context and reasons behind a particular piece of feedback and to decide what is most pertinent to them.
- All of the companies will need to do more work on their business model and projections during the remainder of AlphaLab.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the companies adapt and respond to the Interim Demo Day feedback – and to their continued progress over the next two months.