The athmosphere in the office was pretty hectic for days before the Demo Day. Most of the teams were way behind schedule. Just five days before the DD, one of the teams hadn’t even started to write their business plan. Everybody was putting in long hours. When we arrived at the office 9AM in the morning, we would hear somebody snoring in the meeting room and find some other guy sleeping on the bean-bags in weird position. My romanian friend Tudor didn’t probably sleep almost at all for the last week. He is actually a developer (or the way he puts it, a “code molester”) but since he is the only one in his team who speaks more-or-less proper english, he also had to write the business plan and do the presentation.
For myself, the last couple of weeks were mostly spent finalising the Investment Package (business plan, financials, etc) and rehearsing the presentation. Tarmo was in Paris for annual trailer transportation companies meetup, where he managed to establish some very promising contacts with potential customers. For Jüri and Kristjan it was the race of time – do we get our MVP (Minimum Viable Product) out before the Demo Day or not. By putting in long ours both by themselves and by our subcontractors they succeeded – the product was Demo ready a day before. And the best thing – it also contained the real data of our first test customer, so that we were able to use it in demo.
We had the “full dress rehearsal” day before Demo Day. And it was good we had it. Two very important things came out:
1) The microphones still did not work properly. The had made a lot of noise at the Mentor Day and in three months their quality had not improved a bit. I raised the question out really sharply – do you really want us to spoil the impression to the investors just because we have so shitty mikes?! I would rather speak without one and just use loud voice. Mark and Simon got the point and they bought a new pair of mikes for the next day and those worked very well.
2) Presenters did not know how to use the remote control to forward slides. More than half of the presenters (including myself) pressed wrong buttons initially, which resulted in a mess. There were only four buttons on the remote – up, down, left and right. Which one would you press to succeed a slide? Well, I also thought it would be right. But it is actually the “up” button you’d have to press. By the demo day, fortunately, teams knew how to use it.
The demo day starter with a five minute meeting with Mark, where he “pumped us up” and off we went. In alphabetical order, starting with Barcode Beasties, my order was 6 out of 9, just after the coffee break. I’m not a natural presenter, but when I was waiting for my presentation all miked up behind the stage, I was not nervous at all. I think all the practise I had before the event, paid off. Also, my thanks here go to Mike Pagan who Mark had hired to train us in public speaking. This guy did a very good job, I will try to write a blog post about that on my flight to Bali.
The presentation itself went really well – I felt comfortable and even changed the initial speech at couple of places in order to emphasize some important points. Each presentation was to last for 15 minutes – 7-8 minutes for the presentation, 5 minutes to Q&A and couple of minutes for Mark to introduce the next team. My presentation lasted for 8 minutes, but I got so many questions that we (for one technical question I asked Jüri to join me and answer it) answered them for almost 10 minutes.
After the presentations there mingling with investors. When the mingling started I realised how good it was that Jüri also joined me on the stage in the Q&A section – now investors had seen two people they could approach instead of one. We got a bit more than our fair share of action from investors after the presentations. We set up two meetings in London for Jüri and I will send our investment package to seven other investors. In fact, we also got approached by a man, who had came to the Investor Day to see his son present (his son is from another team), but got so excited about our proposition that he became interested in the possibility of investing in LogistIT.
After the Demo Day was over, we all went to the pub across the street and celebrated. Three months of hard work and now one investor day later, the teams had really put a lot of effort into it. Four businesses changed their names in the process (one of them 3 times:)), the teams who had started the Oxygen Programme with literally nothing more than only an Executive Summary on the paper, had all a working prototype ready. As for LogistIT, we had managed to launch our MVP – a feat that would have taken us at least twice the amount of time in Estonia.
I’m not really concerned whether we are able to raise the Series A funding or not – after the Demo Day I’m sure, yes we can (and not in the Obama way, but really). I’m actually more concerned about what the feedback of our first test customers. This feedback will show if our product is as good and useful as we think it is. If the customer feedback is positive, then not only will we get funded, but also at a higher valuation; if the customer feedback is not that good, then we have to think how should we continue. The value proposition looks excellent on paper, but will it work in reality?! The next 2-3 months will show.