As summer moves on, we are soon back into demo day season for the fall. But yet as I attend these demo days, I find myself getting kind of bored. What do I mean by bored?
They seem so formulaic. The tone of each presenter is the same. Exciting, loud, forceful, confident. The flow of each pitch is the same. There are minor differences: some start with heartfelt stories, all end with graphs rising up and to the right with markets in the billions, and a “If you love [insert appropriate noun/pronoun here], then come find us”. In their attempt to be the best of the best, I am finding that they are all starting to sound the same.
I can imagine what a movie or TV show writer or producer might feel like. These days all you have to do is go to TV Tropes and you can basically find the underlying story line for practically every movie or show out there. This is also why I get bored watching most movies too; it’s the same story but just with different actors and in a different place. Truly special is the time when you stumble upon a movie that someone has done something really different….or perhaps it’s just a trope that I haven’t seen before…?
Somebody should do demodaytropes.com. Then it would just be easier to put together not only each individual pitch, but also the whole show. We could just collect what everyone has done and then you could just look up the demo day trope that fits best with your presenting style and situation.
Of course that would probably just make the whole demo day thing even more unmotivating to attend.
The formula does makes my job as mentor a ton easier. For instance, a few 500startups mentors and I spent many recent days with the startups of the current class to fine tune their upcoming demo day pitches. I sat with some in my mentor hours and went through their decks. There were a few where I actually would rejigger their pitches and then present it back to them in the same tone/style/voice as the many I’ve heard in demo days of the past. Boy, did I sound awesome – well, at least in my own head! I imagined myself acting out the many demo day pitches I’ve heard and just inserted their information and startup name. Almost too easy, right?
Then, when each demo day has 20, 30, no, 50+ startups to present – it’s just getting harder to pay attention simply because of the monotony of the presentations.
Can it get better? I heard that Techstars had loud rave music in between each presenter and one of the startups brought a cadre of supermodels on stage. What else? Any way to make them more interesting beyond the uniformity of their super rehearsed, super confident pitches?