Last night I attended the WebInnovatorsGroup in Cambrigde, along with 600 other folks. Nine new technology companies were showcased, most of them just breaking onto the scene.
I sat in the audience listening to the six minute descriptions of each business, with the ear of an investor, multiple consumer personas, reseller, vendor or as part of the management team. I found with some offerings there were reasons that “this just isn’t going to fly”. Others caught my fancy, despite having zero interest in the product or service.
SNIF Labs caught my fancy. They produce a dog tag with an accelerometer that monitors and uploads to the Internet your pet’s daily movements. You can tell when your dog is sleeping, eating, playing and so on. The info is presented on a web site where you can interact with other pet enthusiasts. Fun idea that I would tell a dog walker or someone who loves pets and technology, but nothing I need. I don’t want a dog.
Frame Channel provides software to allow you to feed images and text to a wireless connected picture frame. Imagine an LCD picture frame at the grandparents house and you control what is displayed, including, sports, weather, stocks, images from AP and National Geographic images, your own phots and more. It is advertiser supported – ads in the bedroom, or you pay a small subscription fee. The catch is, there is no way for the grandparents to control the images as they fly by. What if they want to look at a photo of the grandkids. Well, they are captive until it comes around again. That is a show stopper for me. Otherwise, a cool idea that reminded me of the display screens you see in modern elevators.
Design My Room featured the most effective and experienced presenter, by far. The product was also the most developed. In addition they already have many major brands, celebrity designers and other factors in place and providing value to the visitor. Upload a photo of your room, or use a stock graphic and then add flooring, wall color, drapes, area rungs, appliances and more. Looks quite useful.
On my way out the door I met Laura Fitton, who coaches speakers. We agreed that a couple of the presenters, with an attentive audience of over 600 people, did a poor job of maximizing the potential benefit of the opportunity.
- Who is your target market?
- What is your core message?
- What can you say that will be memorable?
- Speak clearly and directly to the audience, not from a note card.
- Tell the audience what you want them to do.
- Be enthusiastic and authentic.
Our host David Beisel is a venture capitalist with Venrock. Thanks for the free event David.
He began the meeting by surprising the crowd by simply stepping up to the microphone and introducing himself after a faintly heard, “we’re going to begin”.
My suggestions for the next great meeting:
- Find a catchy signal (air horn, play music, quiet coyote or something) to let folks know that it is time to stop networking and sit down. If all else fails, dim the lights twice.
- Allow more than two questions – these folks have a lot of ideas, lets hear them.
- Provide some standard data points about each presenter, preferably on paper or else/also on the web site.
- What is the funding situation – self funded, vc funded, need funding, profitable and so on?
- What is the business model – how they will make money?
- What kind of technology is in use – storage, programming technology, communication etc?
- What is up next for them or what do they need – need money, staff, ideas, space, partners, affiliates?
- A significant quote about the originator’s purpose and motive – why did they start this?
- Is it meant to be profitable?
- Behind tables. I know it is conventional wisdom to stand in front of your display table, but I don’t like it.
- You are blocking your own table
- I can’t reach for a tear sheet, card or flyer
- I can’t see the display on your table
- I can’t walk around the room because everyone is out in front
- If you are behind the table, I know for sure that you work with the company represented
- Stand beside your table if you feel you need to be “out there”, rather than hiding behind your table
- Maybe the room needs to be larger so people can circulate more easily
- You are blocking your own table
After the event I headed over to the deafening CheeseCake Factory with some new friends. They are official Twitter evangelists.
I opened an account back in April and did nothing with it. I did one Tweet and thought “what is this all about?” and moved on .
I met Chris Brogan at an SEO Meetup in Arlington, MA and he evangelized about Twitter. He provided clear explanations to my questions, but I wasn’t moved enough to do anything about it.
Laura was good enough to follow up with an email about Twitter, (Andrea followed up with a LinkedIn invite) . So, I now follow the four of them on Twitter and posted one Tweet. More later about Twitter.
Thanks to my new Twitter friends – Andrea, Chris, Laura and Susan. Cheers. It was, will be fun.