When Joanna Alexander and Mark Long were looking for funding for some of their ventures they encountered a number of problems. What emerged out of these problems was a great idea for a new way to showcase business ideas.
Before Joanna Alexander and Mark Long started Demo Club, they were business partners searching for funding from the venture community. What they found were a number of frustrating experiences.
“The idea came from very personal experience. In the process of trying to raise money, we got exposed to what the typical startup gets exposed to, which is trying to get through the gates of hell to the VC captains,” says Alexander
Annoyed with the traditional rules and restrictions that suited the needs of the venture community, the pair decided they wanted to put together an environment where both sides could talk informally.
The result was Demo Club, a casual environment aimed at suiting both investors and entrepreneurs. Investor’s walk around to a group of 20 presenters, and don’t have to go and listen to the pitch if they aren’t interested.
According to Long, one of the key factors is that it is really a social environment, where people can have a drink and get frank and honest feedback. This type of feedback is important, as many of the businesses showcased at the Demo Club are small independents.
To maintain their desired social tone, the Demo Club has the event catered, maintains a bar, and brings in DJs.
In order to sustain a stream of quality businesses to present, the pair has come up with a set of rules to govern who gets accepted to present.
“There are three simple rules: you have to be able to demo your website, be actively seeking funding, and the site can’t be lame,” says Long.
Having a live website available allows Long and Alexander to weed out some of the flaky companies, that may not have a solid plan set. The last criteria, “that the site can’t be lame,” is a completely subjective category, solely based on how the pair feels about the idea.
The events have been very successful, showcasing over 130 businesses over the past year-and-a-half.
According to Victoria Gentry, whose company Vain.com presented at a Demo Club event, the best part about the Demo Club is the experience it gives you.
Although Vain.com did not get any funding at the actual event, it was the preparation and advice they got through the Demo Club that helped them get funding at a later stage.
“It got us prepared for everything, for the whole process,” says Gentry.
The next Demo Club will take place on August 7th at the Speakeasy Cafe.