Friday, August 30, 2013

Think Big Demo Day Fosters Collisions, Unites Entrepreneurs and Investors

Just two simple words have the ability to make investors turn their heads and make entrepreneurs’ palms sweat: Demo day.  Demo day is the opportunity for startups to get in front of angel investors and venture capitalists and pitch their ideas with the hopes of getting funded, or at the very minimum, making strong connections.

Think Big hosted its very first Demo Day on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at the Think Big Partners loft.  You could feel the energy and passion of each entrepreneur as they stood solo on the Demo Day stage in front of 85+ investors, community leaders and startup enthusiasts.  And although each 8-minute pitch seemed simple and comfortable enough, what the audience may not have realized is that many of these entrepreneurs had been practicing for weeks to deliver the perfect pitch--after all, that’s what it takes to get funded.

For the eight presenting entrepreneurs, Think Big Demo Day didn’t just take place on August 28.  The journey toward Demo Day started when they decided to turn their idea into a business.  From there, the entrepreneurs built, grew and launched a new startup right here in Kansas City.  Four of the presenting startups went through the Think Big Accelerator program.  Many utilized the benefits of Think Big Coworking space.  And all were consulted and mentored by Think Big Partners along their startup journey toward Demo Day.

Think Big Demo Day began with a 45 minute networking luncheon and an opportunity for entrepreneurs, startups, community leaders and investors to get acquainted with one another.  After lunch, the audience warmed up with energetic opening remarks from Think Big Co-founder and Managing Partner, Herb Sih and a quick 10-minute tour of Think Big Coworking.  

By 1:00PM, it was time for the pitches.  Polished presentations from Nathan Benjamin (InvenQuery), Jeb Ory (Phone2Action), Parker Hills (Keyzio) and Jeff Alholm (CandyCam) were followed by Q&A sessions from the audience and were then followed by explosive applause.

After a short break, it was Group 2’s chance to pitch.  Many audience members frivolously jotted down notes as Scott Tibbits (Katasi), Connor Sweeney (WeeJay), Bryan Richard (Fully) and Pierre Barbeau (Moblico) presented their startup concepts to the crowd.  Once again, the room burst into applause after each and every pitch.

By the time Pierre Barbeau stepped down from the stage, the audience was still fully energized and geared up to get some face time with the presenters.  Lucky for them, Think Big Demo Day wasn’t over.  The chance for investors to entrepreneurs to connect was just beginning.  Many decided to stay at Think Big to meet one-on-one with each other while others moved the event down the street to Snow & Company for frozen cocktails, power networking and further beneficial connections. 

Although the ultimate goal of Demo Day was to connect entrepreneurs with investors and funding, another goal rose from the gathering of so many passionate and energetic people: an increased number of collisions.  As mentioned by Herb Sih during opening remarks, the reason that companies get funded and that more jobs are created is because of increased collision density.  The term “collision density” is the level of collisions made between entrepreneurs, investors and connectors in a single area.  The higher an area’s collision density is, the more quickly and efficiently innovative development can occur.  Increased collision density was just another much anticipated outcome of Think Big Demo Day.
Think Big Partners would like to thank all attendees and presenters, as well as the partners of the Think Big Accelerator who help address the needs of the startup companies: The City of Kansas City, Missouri; Microsoft BizSpark, Twilio, SendGrind.  And a special thank you to all mentors and resident advisor, Dr. Julie Edge.

The next round of Think Big Accelerator applications open September 16, 2013.  For more information, please visit or call 816-842-5244.  

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