On 26th November, CRL partner U+I will be hosting the latest showcase from our resident modern British inventors… It’s time for the CRL Demo Day.
Five exciting hardware startups are near the end of their CRL Accelerator Programme and they’ll be celebrating with an evening of pitches, and product demos, aimed at piquing the interest of invited investors and potential partners.
But the CRL Demo Day isn’t only about finding investment… it’s much more than that. It’s the start of an amazing journey. Demo Day is a great chance for the Accelerator cohort to pull together everything they’ve learned, and to showcase their new and improved hardware concepts, before taking the next steps.
They’ll each take to the stage, in front of friends, family and special guests, to give a five-minute presentation on their business and product plans, and to ask for whatever they need to make it happen. As well as their five minutes in the spotlight, they’ll also have a demo stand, in the main room, where guests will be able to get hands-on with their prototypes and chat with the entrepreneurs over drinks.
In the remaining weeks, between now and Demo Day, our tech entrepreneurs will be busy getting prototypes, pitch decks and presentation skills, to a professional standard. After all, those tangible assets will be the key to conveying the credibility of their business to potential partners, funders and customers.
For those going through the process, at CRL or elsewhere, here’s a little reminder to make sure you get the most from the opportunity that is a Demo Day.
Make the most of external resources: You don’t have to do it all alone. If you’re lucky enough to have access to resources like the CRL team, a co-working space and high-tech workshops, and mentors… make them work for you. For everything from last minute advice, to a sounding board or a sanity check… they’ll be happy to help you get it right.
Practice, practice, practice: If you’re comfortable that you know your stuff inside out, and you’re happy with how your AV is working, that will be one less thing to worry about. So, practice everything you want to say including how you’ll deal with questions or presentation gremlins.
Research your audience: Find out who’ll be there on the day, make sure you know who you’ll want to speak to and what you’ll want from them. Get your elevator pitch ready so that you know what you’re going to say if you suddenly find yourself face-to-face with a potential investor, advisor or customer, with only a minute to make that impression.
Don’t forget to breathe: Presenting isn’t everyone’s thing (to be fair, most people hate it!), but remember, everyone will be rooting for you. Try to enjoy it… you’ll be in the best company.
Make an announcement: If you’ve got something big, new and exciting to announce, like a new deal, order or business partner, this is a great place to tell the world about it. Also, whether it’s an investment, a mentor or additional partners, you’re after, make sure you tell the audience what you need next.
Network: Take the opportunity to speak to key contacts and work the room, because you never know who you might meet unexpectedly. Also, don’t forget that networking isn’t just about you… you might be able to help someone else and, who knows, it might come back at a later date…
Follow up: Don’t forget to follow up with your contacts as soon as possible after the event. Remind them about your conversation and, if it’s appropriate, suggest meeting up for a proper discussion.
Share your experience: Write a short blog piece, for your website or a guest blog, about how it all went… and don’t stop there. Your supporters will want to know how things go so keep them up-to-date with a regular e-newsletter.
Stay in touch with your accelerator: Even after the programme, the CRL team and mentors will still be around to support you so make sure you stay in touch and ask for what you need.
The CRL Demo Day is a big milestone. It may be the end of the Accelerator programme but it’s the beginning of your journey as an entrepreneur. It’s also a great chance to show all the people that have supported you up to now (even when they didn’t quite get it) what it is that you’re so passionate about.
Lauren Bell, Founder of Cosi Care and previous cohort member, is an award-winning tech entrepreneur who has gone through the CRL Demo Day. We asked her what advice she would give to the cohort members who’ll be pitching in November.
LB: The best advice I would give is to mentally prepare for an investment journey. Have a good idea in your mind of how you want to raise money and who you would like on board. Talk to as many people as you can on the evening, make notes on any business cards you receive that will remind you of your conversation, and always follow up with them after the event with an email to solidify that connection. You may have met someone that evening that seemed like a relatively brief encounter, and it could transpire that they will become a valuable link for your company for either securing investment or a contact that will help your company grow to the next level.
We were also keen to find out the first thing she did straight after the high of her Demo Day.
LB: It’s an exciting period after Demo Day with a lot of ups and downs. The first thing I did after it was get incredibly upset that I hadn’t signed a shareholder’s agreement on the spot. I was very naive about how securing investment would work and expected an instant result. I realise now that it takes time to make these relationships and generate interest with an investor. Stay positive and proactive and you will get results.
Book your place now and join us in supporting our tech entrepreneurs at Demo Day on 26th November.
Applications are now open for the next CRL Accelerator programme. The deadline for applications is 1st December so, if you want to follow in the footsteps of many other successful tech startups, you can find more details and apply here.