I attended TorCampDemoCamp 4.0 last night. Nice crowd… well over 100 people in the room, lots of energy, fun demos and some smart constructive questions asked. I enjoyed reconnecting with a few familiar faces and meeting new people. Thanks David Crow and the demoers for putting together a valuable evening.
What I liked most:
- Short, interesting, densely packed demos
- Demoers were all obviously passionate about their work
- Loved seeing both software and hardware
- Informal atmosphere
- Good opportunity to mix and meet afterwards
- A beautiful space: Mars, the tech incubator that now inhabits a vast chunk of the old Toronto General Hospital. Most of the old brick structure is intact, and they have added metal and glass to modernize it and slice it into smaller spaces.
- Solid, ego-free organization and moderation from David Crow
Suggestions for demoers:
- Start by saying who you are (5 seconds)
- …then say what you are going to show (10 seconds)
- …and say what sort of discussion and feedback you’re inviting (15 seconds)
- …then demo! (9 minutes, 30 seconds)
- no commercials :-) your honest passion is sufficient, no need for spin
- repeat audience questions briefly into the mic so that everyone can hear
- Remote mic or mic stand for audience questions? Not needed if room stays small, but last night I found it hard to hear most questions. Having a mic also enables audio capture of the whole event.
- For smooth turnaround, speaker N+1 can set up their machine while speaker N is answering questions.
- Scaling up with heart: this event wants to stay interactive, and to grow in attendance. Those two goals are at odds. One solution that may make sense down the road is the “Science Fair” approach: divide the space up into smaller sections, and run multiple demos in parallel with subsets of the audience. In between demos, either the audience or the demoers roam from venue to venue. Microsoft does effectively this for their annual Tech Fest, where most of their 800+ researchers present. It allows for voting with your feet and much deeper audience/presenter interaction. Noise control can be hard, though.
Lastly, it would be cool to do a more hardcore blend of demo + deeper workshop-style discussion and feedback. There were a number of keen minds in the audience and I know they would willingly give a few minutes of thoughtful feedback and coaching geared at helping the entrepeneurial- minded presenters bring their ideas to success. As currently defined DemoCamp isn’t the right forum/structure for it, though… not all presenters want “business help”, and I LOVE that DemoCamp doesn’t require ideas to arrive at the party all gussied up in a business model. That shouldn’t change. Mark Kuznicki alludes to the same issue here. I haven’t attended a Canadian Venture Forum event yet, but I suspect the thing I’m talking about lies somewhere inbetween.
My 2 cents. More DemoCamp, please! Game on.
P.S. re: the suggestions above, I’m willing to help implement.