As part of my goal to "get out there" and be "more social" and "network" (all in quotes because I don't particularly like those phrases), I've been signing up and going to various events, such as last week's Bay Area Geek Girl dinner, and tonight's New Tech Meetup.
The make up of this event is based around four demos at the beginning of the event. Four companies send representatives (usually developers) to demo their product, usually a website, to a crowd of about 140 people.
When I walked into the room where the demonstrations/presentations were held, I was sure I was in the wrong place: the New Tech Meetup crowd is WAAY different crowd that I'm used to at tech events.
Instead of the usual crowd of twenty and thirty somethings, all technical, all with projects of their own, most in t-shirts and jeans, with the occasional sweater or sweatshirt, everyone here was older or, more likely, more experienced. The age groups was probably mid-thirties to late fifties (implying to me, money more than passion), and all in business dress. There was practically no color in that room. I saw one guy in an orange t-shirt, and I had on a red shirt. Everyone else was in brown or dark blue.
After briefly surveying the room, noting that many people were in groups, as they probably knew each other well, or were networking very well, I walked towards the back to sit next to a guy eating pizza by himself. I quickly struck up a conversation with said person, Doug of muck.net.
Doug explained that there were usually 4 or 5 demonstrations, 3 or 4 of which you'll think, "WHY? Why oh why did you make this site?" and one you'll think, "Wow! That's cool!" Each presentation has a questions session after it.
My purpose in coming to this particular presentation was to see how it went so that I could present next month, though I realized as I was walking to the car that I'll actually be in Boston at the Drupal Con 2008, so I'll have to shoot for April instead. I explained what I was doing with rereuse.com, leaving out the part of trying to launch one website a month. He laughed at the thought there might be a potential viable business around helping people give stuff away, but asked me to let him know when I launch the site to beta.
The four sites demonstrated tonight were:
A way to (seriously) interactively annotate images on the web.
A current-news outcome forcaster market, where the wisdom of the crowds and news sources is used to answer member posted questions
A text to speech to MP3 website where you can specify an RSS feed and download the spoken version to yout iPod.
A geo-video site where you can tie location into videos, in real time with the right equipment. This demo, although initially disastrous with the presenters' inability to connect to the internet, was the "wow, that's cool" demo of the evening. It was very much the "killer app" for GPS, allowing people with properly enabled phones to essentially annotate their surroundings.
Of course, it means their surroundings can be plastered with advertisements, too, ruining the effect, but barring marketing overload, it's a great idea.
Now, the reason I went was was not to see these particular demos, though they were interesting, but rather to see what the crowd was like, what the environment was like, what questions were asked, and what did the presenters do right or wrong, so that I did the good stuff and didn't do the bad stuff.
Questions commonly asked:
- What's your business model? How will you make money? What's your revenue model? (Every demo got this one.)
- Who is your target audience?
- How expandable is your site? Do you have an API? How much effort is it to add new services?
- How are you currently funded? Self? Goal to be acquired?
- Who is your competition? What is your competitive advantage over them?
- What's your single sentence pitch?
- What's the future use of yoru site? Where do you see the site two years from now?
- How do you prevent your system from being gamed?
- Do you have historical information? Is it publically exposed?
- What is your input methodology?
Also of note for presenting in this environment:
- Repeat the question before answering it, as not everyone in the room will hear the question correctly the first time, perhaps not even you.
- Stand up when answering questions: the disembodied voice at the front of the room is disturbing for those in the back.
- Have a local server ready with the demo, if possible, in case the internet goes down before or during your presentation.
How hard is it to turn off your phone for a 45 minute demo session? I mean, come ON. Over six different phones rang during the four presentations, with one owner saying, "Hello? Hello? No, I can't talk right now." If you can't talk, DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE!.
Apparently this issue comes up every year or so.
This was a great event to go to. I'm glad I went, and, as odd as it sounds, I'm glad I went alone to gather the information I needed for my later demo.