The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the entire startup ecosystem, and in the name of safety and support of our founders, we hosted our first-ever Digital Demo Day. This was a whole new take on demo day for us, and the end result was a unique and inspiring experience for both our startups and investor community.
Making the switch to an online demo day was no easy task. However, as concerns grew over our international founders needing to return to their home countries and not being able to attend Demo Day in-person, we made the decision early on to have all of the startups pre-record their presentations remotely. To help them with this process, we created a Zoom Guide so that they could record their decks and talks at the same time.
Shortly after, when San Francisco ordered a “shelter in place” for everyone in the city, we started planning an online space where attendees could still learn about the startups presenting and connect easily with the companies and each other. In a matter of days, we were able to create a Slack community with channels dedicated to each startup. Approximately 1,300 vetted attendees registered and joined our unique Slack spaces.
We learned a lot from organizing our first-ever digital demo day, so we wanted to share some of the tactics that worked well for us – especially at a time when so many other programs around the world are also shifting online to keep everyone safe. We hope you find this guide on how we created our digital Demo Day experience helpful!
Recreating the “Demo Day booth” for our founders
When we decided to use Slack for the event, we created a channel for each startup to upload their presentation deck, demo videos, team background information, and more. The founders only had access to their channel so that they could not access participant information unless the participant joined their channel.
Setting up single channel access for the startups helped us maintain the privacy of the participants while still giving them a chance to connect with our founders before, during, and after the event.
Not only did the digital “Demo Day booths” help increase exposure outside of San Francisco, but it also allowed any existing contacts to join in on the conversation and share their insights and perspectives on the companies and more.
Getting the VC community on board
The day before Demo Day, we opened up the Slack group to our investor community. We had “greet bots” to inform the participants about the different channels they could join (for example, #topic-female-founders and #topic-fintech) and to provide general guidelines on how to connect with the individual startups.
By the end of the day, we already had over 1K active members of the group, 300+ introductions in our #introduce_yourself channel, and attendees had sent over 1.1K messages across the various channels.
We decided to use YouTube Live to stream the event because it allowed us to invite everyone to a single link. However, we’ve seen a couple of other digital Demo Days struggle with the technical aspects of live streaming, so we needed to ensure that it would be a seamless experience for everyone involved. We worked with an amazing video production team as well as a live stream consultant to ensure it would be a top-notch experience.
After everything was said and done, we chose to pre-record the entire video and have a specialist go through specific technical checks right before we went live.
Managing the conversations in real-time
We knew it would be important to have moderators in place for the digital Demo Day to be a success. Our team of moderators was in charge of greeting the participants who joined the Slack group and helping them find their way around, suggesting company or topic channels to check out depending on their interests.
During the live stream, participants were actively entering each startup’s channels and there were real-time Q&As taking place. We also set up a #livestream channel which allowed everyone to give shoutouts, applause, and share their thoughts in real-time during the presentations.
We registered over 5K unique views during the Demo Day live stream, and in our post-Demo Day survey, many attendees reported that they found the online experience to be just as exciting as the in-person events. This was a big win. During the day before and day of the event, we registered over 2.6K clicks on our startups’ information, including presentation decks, videos, meeting links, and more.
Our biggest event of the year
Adaptability and innovation are in our DNA, and we leveraged these strengths to create a true one-of-a-kind Demo Day experience. We’re excited to leverage this experience to bring together more startup and investor events in the future and on a larger scale. Thank you to everyone who tuned in and made it possible!
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