This afternoon, I’ll be attending my 7th YCombinator Demo Day. It’s always a thrill. Entrepreneurs break champagne bottles across the bows of their startups and launch them into the wild in front of a pack of voracious investors.
Since my first Demo Day in May 2008, YC Demo Days have evolved dramatically. (Guy Kawasaki unknowingly snapped a photo of me at my first one – I was younger then.)
The number of startups pitching has quadrupled from 16 to 64. As a result, pitches shrank from 7 minutes to just over 2 minutes. And entrepreneurs, as they always do, responded. To deliver a compelling pitch in just 150 seconds, pitches became precise and focused.
It seemed to me, the presenters had an unofficial template:
- introduce the team
- reveal the problem the company solved
- show the market impact
- unveil a chart moving up and to the right with some initial proof points
- fund-raising ask and status
This pitch template served as some of inspiration for one of my posts, The 7 Questions You Should Answer in Your Pitch Deck.
Also, entrepreneurs fund-raising strategy has changed. Instead of using Demo Day as a launch pad, it’s become a way to build fund-raising pressure. Of the 64 startups “launching” today, 34 of them have already availed themselves to the public by posting product announcements on the web and in the press.
Demo Day has become a place when companies demonstrate momentum in their businesses and fund-raising processes, in effort to close their rounds quickly. Again, entrepreneurs always find a way to use the system to their advantage.
The results of these Demo Days speak for themselves. Redpoint has invested in at least 7 YC companies and most of them are doing quite well. I’m looking forward to meeting more great teams and hearing some exciting pitches.