Category Archives: Demo Days

Progress Presentations vs. Investor Presentations

The format of the LaunchPad classroom sessions is simple: Each team has 5-7 minutes to do a brief Powerpoint presentation focused on their progress since the previous week. A discussion follows each with commentary, suggestions and critique from everyone in the room: Teaching team, advisor/mentors and other teams. This is followed by training in specific aspects of the lean methodology. Because we do it weekly for three months everyone is quite familiar with the challenges each team is facing.

At the end of the three months, the teams are pretty good at these presentations. They’ve refined their ability to show progress based on the reality of their customer discovery conversations. And these are documented on the slides in measurable ways- who, when, how many and what they learned or unlearned. The final stage was the public events in Rochester and NYC where the teams gave a summary progress presentation to rooms full of people who were not familiar with their work. It was a powerful experience to be a part of for both the audience and the program participants.

One of the comments I heard more than once was a comparison of this progress-focused presentation style vs. investor presentations. In all instances, the commenter preferred the progress format. I felt the same way, in part because I lump many investor presentations into the same category as business plans. All too often they focus on what the team thinks the investors want to hear.

Interestingly enough Steve Blank (originator of all this lean stuff) recently wrote a post on a new metric, The Investment Readiness Level:

“The collective wisdom of venture investors (including angel investors, and venture capitalists) over the past decades has been mostly subjective. Investment decisions made on the basis of “awesome presentation”, “the demo blew us away”, or “great team” is used to measure startups. These are 20th century relics of the lack of data available from each team and the lack of comparative data across a cohort and portfolio.”

As usual with Mr. Blank he has wrapped this idea into a very complex set of metrics for accelerator managers. But the core concept is simple:

Present investors with data gathered by the founder team that verifies and strengthens their value proposition, market understanding and expertise, rather than creating a set of expectations based on what you think investors want to hear.

And frankly, if you’re in the program, focus on customer discovery, not raising money. If you get your business model right, investment gets a lot easier. Or you may find you don’t need it, an increasingly viable option these days.

Elevator Speeches For 12 Software Startups Finishing The HTRLaunchPad Program

Last week, in my communications role, I sat down to write brief descriptions of each Team’s business model for a press release. It was promoting our upcoming Demo Days in Rochester and at the Levin Institute in Manhattan. I realized as I wrote them that even a few weeks ago it would have been difficult to be this succinct. The teams’ progress in refining their model and messages made it relatively easy.

Here is the first shot at it (please note that many of these company names are works in progress):

All Access Menus
Accessible (For hearing and sight-disabled patrons) restaurant menus displayed via mobile apps, that feature food photography and descriptions created by customers. The incentive for the photo collection is a rewards system for the best shots.

EnergyWise Partners
The Energy Wise software platform measures usage of thermal energy generated by geothermal energy systems. The data it sources provides energy investors and sellers with the ability to create an open market in geothermal energy-related financial instruments.

GradeSnap now known as R-T Connections
Gradesnap successfully executed a ‘pivot’, a major change in direction driven by their discovery process, and now offer a new way to connect highly skilled technology students with companies’ specific needs, bypassing the traditional recruitment process.

Gradfly is a social network/portfolio site where STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students can create a profile, showcase projects they are working on with photos and videos, and earn badges in various disciplines. It creates an accessible resource for universities and businesses looking for the best and brightest.

SnapEval/Immense Analytics
SnapEval is a mobile application that managers can use to keep employee evaluation notes in real time. This builds a data set and structure for more accurate employee effectiveness measurement and for identification of trends in management effectiveness across an organization.

LifeSUDS /Symptom Reporting
The LifeSUDS application (mobile/web), developed by two psychologists, enables the collection, in real time, of patient experience of symptoms like anxiety attacks. This offers the therapist the ability to observe the patients experience in a more accurate framework when they are not present, resulting in a more effective therapeutic outcomes.

MyWriting Mate

MyWritingMate works with MS Word to capture a writers habits from behind the scenes, including pace, pauses and stops, cut and paste, corrections, and more. The writer gets insights into their writing habits and writing teachers can see their process, enabling more tailored coaching and teaching.

New Digs
New Digs is a web site and mobile app for landlords serving student markets, and colleges seeking a means to monitor security and quality in off-campus housing.

Parts Dashboard
Parts Dashboard is an affordable application designed to manage complex parts inventory in design, engineering and manufacturing environments.

Qmetrics displays MRI information in a 3D format with color highlighting, enabling radiologists and orthopedic surgeons to more accurately identify problems with knee and other joints.

Quantum Loop/Winokur
Winokur is an ecommerce and social marketing platform for independent wineries. It offers a mobile application for consumers and wine aficionados exploring wineries, and a sales platform for the wineries to manage and sell their inventory.

Roc Innovations/Railcomm
Railroad operators face major safety issues based on the position of switches, stuck crossing gates and stuck brakes on railcars. Roc Innovations offer inexpensive, remote, cloud-based monitoring of these issues via wireless hardware installed in the field.

To learn a lot more and see their refined presentations, get your free tickets to the Demo Day, June 4th at Geva Theater.