Thursday, July 17, 2008

#DemoCampToronto18 Thoughts

My first DemoCamp is in the books!
Really enjoyed being part of a community that is working on a number of very cool things and kudo's to all who demoed, keep up the good work. Thanks to David Crow et al (who it was really great to finally meet) for all his efforts in coordinating the startup community.
The venue needs to support the reasons that participants attend and facilitate them getting out of the event everything that they wanted, in better language it needs to support not detract from the User Experience. I think it did some of both. On the plus side the very casual atmosphere of the bar setting facilitates great conversation and openness in getting to know new people and make introductions so I liked that aspect as opposed to something more formal. The negative was that for some/many it was VERY hard to hear the demo's. It was loud, cramped, everyone could not fit in the room and I think this really detracted from some of the great stuff people were trying to show and solicit feedback on to improve the product.
Overall I would vote for a new venue for 19 or a return to one of the old venues that people generally seemed to like.
DISCLAIMER-As most of my readers will know I am not a programmer and not as technical as most (being a dumb finance guy) so I tend to focus more on understanding the problem that is being fixed, trying to relate to it and the applicablility and usability of the solution and potential business model.
Some great demo's on the night which I would encourage everyone to check out. Refresh Partners, Blueprint and Ali of and Dr. Project all presented to get us started and showed some really neat stuff. Ali has Jabber chat for your site that he uses at Well that I thought was very usable.
Second group had Bitstrips, SpreedNews and Jevon MacDonald which were all pretty interesting. Bitstrips was fun demo that Jesse Brown pitched as revengeware where it allows you to completely build characters for a cartoon script with an infinite number of options, craft the setting and build the dialogue for your cartoon...Jesse also informed the crowd that there was a parental control setting built in and that it was required due to various office furniture that...ah never mind.... Spreed was interesting and I had read about them earlier in the day at Mark's blog as they had just launched yesterday. Unfortunately the demo struggled a bit with sound and tech and I am a first timer but it seemed like the demo broke the "infomercial rule" of DemoCamp. Putting those flagrant fouls aside the speed reading concept and the need to ramp up our collective ability to read, process and retain information that is coming at us at an exponentially increasing rate is a perplexing one to me. Admittedly I am not a fast reader and am even worse online (I am still a tree killer...although I do print double sided) so I think I will give this a try as it claims to more than double your ability to read AND retain information and early users seem to concur. Check it out and comment back with you thoughts!
The final act went to Jevon who presented something called a VC rant which I think was more aptly an ode to how we can all (startups and VCs and angels, etc) work to try to fix a funding problem that seems to be increasing at an alarming rate. Jevon has posted a copy of the presentation and a blog post at his site The blog post is a little less of a rant on VC's compared to the presentation and I think is a well balanced picture of what VC's AND entrepreneurs need to do to turn this around. there are several posts around on this topic right now and I posted some thoughts on this earlier as well.
So all in all on the night I had a really good time, I enjoyed a couple pints with some really smart, creative people who I had never met before, I met some folks for the first time that I had only Twittered with before (why does that sound wrong?) and I got closer to my startup community. All of that is good for me but I basically leached!
Here is what I can do today to give back and I expect my community to keep me accountable:
  1. I will be trying out products demoed and providing my feedback good and bad directly to the entrepreneur as this is critical for the continued evolution of these products and for the continuous improvement of the user experience and for the improved success of the community
  2. If there is any way that through a contact or a phone call or a Twitter question or a blog post that I can assist any community member please feel free to reach out and ask me for help. If I can't help directly I can help find someone who can.

You get out of events and communities what you put into them and while I have successfully made it through my first DemoCamp it definitely will not be my last!


  1. An excellent summary, thanks.

    Most important, though, are your two calls to action!

    I tried a few of the sites before and since DemoCamp, but didn't take the time to provide constructive feedback... but I will now.

  2. Hi Paul -- thanks for mentioning our Demo. The venue was difficult but our team had so much fun :)

    I hope to be able to have a demo you can play with soon -- we love feedback.

  3. Ali,
    The user experience starts (especially for a new product)BEFORE we even see. It starts when it is pitched to us for the first time and like the old saying goes "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" and thought aside from the product which looked great, you sold it well. look forward to trying it out, thanks for stopping by.

  4. Roy Pereira9:41 a.m.

    Hi Paul. Refresh's web site is actually or or even

    Thanks for the mention!

  5. Sorry about that Ray, I will clean it up immediately. Great job with the demo and good luck. If I can help in any way please feel free to reach out.