Entrepreneurship, Sharing and DemoCamp

Are we really talking about 2 different things? Should DemoCamp really be BusinessModelCamp? Is DemoCamp just a commune for techies? Should we continue to try and grow DemoCamp? DemoCamp was awesome! DemoCamp sucked! Does DemoCamp really matter? To whom? Michael offers an analysis of state of the community. I think there are 2 competing ideas competing for mindshare at DemoCamp.

  1. DemoCamp for sharing ideas, technologies, projects, and tools
  2. DemoCamp for launching a business, recruiting talent, finding capital/funding or customers

Why does DemoCamp work?

The reason the DemoCamps work is because they are open. They are an open exchange of ideas. There has been no fee to attend. The only requirement is that you sign up on the wiki so we can try to plan for space. DemoCamps are about learning and sharing what you are doing. DemoCamps facilitiate a latent social behaviour of the human condition.

Suggestions for improving DemoCamp

Oshoma Momoh provides some operational iterations for DemoCamp. Bryce offered up an unevent for design problems. Michael suggests that maybe we need to schedule a business or funding focused unevent, i.e., BusinessPlanCamp.

We have time to do another DemoCamp before Mesh and BarCampToronto and we should iterate on the concept and try something different. I spoke to the Drake about using the Underground but there is a minimum bar tab and it will only hold roughly 100 people. Let’s find a space. Listen to our attendees. Make DemoCamp more valuable to everyone attending.

16 thoughts on “Entrepreneurship, Sharing and DemoCamp”

  1. <p>David and I had a quick chat at the last DemoCamp after party about an idea for a slightly different format. My thought: limit the event to & say & six demos. Make three of them demos from companies/individuals looking to launch a product, and three of them from people with cool non-business concepts. Run all six demos simultaneously with the current time limit in place (maybe 10 minute demo + 5 minute Q&A & or even the reverse). Have the audience split into six smaller groups and rotate through some number of the demos (i.e.: each presenter would give their demo & or a variation & X times with the audience rotating after each demo, meaning that every audience member will see X different demos). You, as an audience member, can pick the demos you want to see and the other you, as a presenter, can show differernt parts of your project/product/idea to smaller, more focused groups.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>It requires a bigger space so that we can do a number of smaller groups without interfering with each other, but it also allows for a bigger crowd. Thoughts?</p>

  2. David and I had a quick chat at the last DemoCamp after party about an idea for a slightly different format. My thought: limit the event to & say & six demos. Make three of them demos from companies/individuals looking to launch a product, and three of them from people with cool non-business concepts. Run all six demos simultaneously with the current time limit in place (maybe 10 minute demo + 5 minute Q&A & or even the reverse). Have the audience split into six smaller groups and rotate through some number of the demos (i.e.: each presenter would give their demo & or a variation & X times with the audience rotating after each demo, meaning that every audience member will see X different demos). You, as an audience member, can pick the demos you want to see and the other you, as a presenter, can show differernt parts of your project/product/idea to smaller, more focused groups.

    It requires a bigger space so that we can do a number of smaller groups without interfering with each other, but it also allows for a bigger crowd. Thoughts?

  3. <p>Following up on my own comment (could someone else please jump in so I don't look like I've gone totally nuts?!), an interesting idea that I cam across on <a href="http://blog.softtechvc.com/2006/03/techdirts_green.html&quot; target="_blank">Jeff Clavier's blog</a>. Basically: 5 minute demo, split the audience into groups who each have to answer a specific business challenge/question, regroup to present. It might mean we do three actual demos per night instead of six but also that we all get more out of it?</p>

  4. Following up on my own comment (could someone else please jump in so I don't look like I've gone totally nuts?!), an interesting idea that I cam across on Jeff Clavier's blog. Basically: 5 minute demo, split the audience into groups who each have to answer a specific business challenge/question, regroup to present. It might mean we do three actual demos per night instead of six but also that we all get more out of it?

  5. <p>I'll jump in so you don't look totally nuts Jay. I like the idea of running multiple demos in parallel, to allow for smaller more involved groups.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I wonder about space though. I'd guess that finding a space where multiple demos can run simultaneously and successfully with a total group of 100 plus might be a big challenge.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>How about this as a twist, run MiniDemoCamps more frequently (twice a month?). Each MiniDemoCamp would have 2-3 demos and be organised around a general theme (photo tools one fortnight, Ruby apps the next and hardware hacks the next). The combination of greater frequency and topic focus would probably reduce the numbers attending each get together I'm guessing. Smaller numbers make it possible to have a more intimate discussion, perhaps using the rotating audience/parallel demos idea.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Just a thought, and not a terribly well thought thought either. But I'll throw it into the pot.</p>

  6. <p>If movement builds towards a split between the two flavours, I would suggest VentureCamp would be a good name to differentiate the business part from the technical. The DemoCamp name still conjures up tech demos to me. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I think that the two themes pull in different directions to some extent so each might gain better momentum on their own without that potential friction. People who wish to present to both groups can focus on each aspect separately and get more focused feedback.</p>

  7. I'll jump in so you don't look totally nuts Jay. I like the idea of running multiple demos in parallel, to allow for smaller more involved groups.

    I wonder about space though. I'd guess that finding a space where multiple demos can run simultaneously and successfully with a total group of 100 plus might be a big challenge.

    How about this as a twist, run MiniDemoCamps more frequently (twice a month?). Each MiniDemoCamp would have 2-3 demos and be organised around a general theme (photo tools one fortnight, Ruby apps the next and hardware hacks the next). The combination of greater frequency and topic focus would probably reduce the numbers attending each get together I'm guessing. Smaller numbers make it possible to have a more intimate discussion, perhaps using the rotating audience/parallel demos idea.

    Just a thought, and not a terribly well thought thought either. But I'll throw it into the pot.

  8. If movement builds towards a split between the two flavours, I would suggest VentureCamp would be a good name to differentiate the business part from the technical. The DemoCamp name still conjures up tech demos to me.

    I think that the two themes pull in different directions to some extent so each might gain better momentum on their own without that potential friction. People who wish to present to both groups can focus on each aspect separately and get more focused feedback.

  9. <p>I don't think that the parallel demos are particularly fair to the presenters & giving the same demo over and over again may get boring, and you'll miss out on any other demos that night that you may have wanted to see. Further, I think any discussion would benefit from having more participants in it & using the questions of others to launch into still deeper, and more interesting, questions. 10 people may not result in the same depth of questions as, say, 50.<br /> </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I also tend to think that theme nights may not be the best way either. Attendees may be interested by topics they wouldn't have otherwise pursued under the current format, whereas having theme nights may lead to the dreaded 'echo chamber'.<br /> </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I could probably go on, but I'm likely at the breaking point for sanity / coherence. Overall, I think the concept is still a bit too new to be splitting it off like this. I think it would be prudent to see how much more it grows before messing with the formula too drastically.</p>

  10. I don't think that the parallel demos are particularly fair to the presenters & giving the same demo over and over again may get boring, and you'll miss out on any other demos that night that you may have wanted to see. Further, I think any discussion would benefit from having more participants in it & using the questions of others to launch into still deeper, and more interesting, questions. 10 people may not result in the same depth of questions as, say, 50.

    I also tend to think that theme nights may not be the best way either. Attendees may be interested by topics they wouldn't have otherwise pursued under the current format, whereas having theme nights may lead to the dreaded 'echo chamber'.

    I could probably go on, but I'm likely at the breaking point for sanity / coherence. Overall, I think the concept is still a bit too new to be splitting it off like this. I think it would be prudent to see how much more it grows before messing with the formula too drastically.

  11. <p>I argue for the DemoCamp 'main event' to stay pretty much as-is with breakout sesssions added. The main event should be a limited number of demos delivered to the whole room, with clear direction from Demoers on why they're there and only clarification questions from the audience for about the content of the Demo or what the Demoer is looking for.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Then, I would add Jay's idea of 'speed-dating' with smaller groups into a breakout session immediately following Demo. I like the idea that after everyone gets a flavour for the thing, whether hack or investment-worthy product, the audience self-selects based on their interest level and clusters around the 3 or 4 or however-many Demoer tables to probe deeper, match interests, aptitudes and expertise. If there's something worth pursuing, people exchange business cards and then take it outside or continue over beer. (The Drake Underground would be great for this, because you don't have to leave to get a drink.) I like the common experience with the big audience & it brings great energy.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>If we really want to do something remarkable, I've got a reality show concept called 'DemoCamp: Monster Island', which I'm pretty sure we can get some interesting funding partners for. More of an iterative bus/dev <a href="http://www.xpcup.com/index.cfm?goto=about_us.aboutansarixprizechallenge&quot; target="_blank">X-Prize</a> challenge with one winner taking a purse large enough to fund development to take them to the next stage. If we really want to see the startup scene in T-Dot take off, we need to start thinking bigger than Canadians usually do. ;-)</p>

  12. <p>Randy's points about parallel presentations not being fair on presenters is a good one. The risk of echo chamber effects in any by-topic or by-type streaming is important too.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I like Mark's proposal for main event presentation session as is with a break out to get into greater depth in smaller groups.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I actually really like the 'DemoCamp: Monster Island' idea too. I'm sure there's something similar in the new media area in Toronto, can't remember the name though.</p>

  13. <p>I like where Mark is taking this & limit the number of demos (maybe four instead of six?) and have the presenters up in front of the room. Randy's probably right that 10 people lead to fewer questions than 50, so we get the benefit of the full crowd (though keep in mind that some people are too apprehensive to ask a question in front of 50 might might voice it in front of 10). We reserve the last half hour of the Camp to split into groups clustered around each presenter so that they can meet/greet/respond to other Campers. The after Camp 'receptions' have been sort of working that way anyway, but this would encourage networking prior to the more casual open floor of the bar.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>My intent, incidentally, in suggesting simultaneous demos is that the presenters wouldn't give the same demo over and over, but rather that they would seize the opportunity to get feedback on different parts of their project depending on who was in that particular audience group. At any rate, Mark's suggestion is certainly more practical in that it reduces the need for multiple rooms (as Patrick pointed out), and allows for everyone to see the same presentations.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I also really like the idea of some kind of X-Prize to encourage bigger thought. The X-Prize (and the original aviation prizes it was based on) was intended to provoke a rabid response in a specific area of R&D and it succeeded pretty admirably. The challenge is (at least) two-fold: finding a deep-pocketed sponsor and finding an activity with a reasonable chance of success (i.e.: something that is out of reach & but only by a reasonable margin). VCs (and I include all potential sources of funding in there, not just traditional Venture Capital) are one of the groups who have been sorely underrepresented at DemoCamp. I think that's generally true for the tech sector in Canada though & a solid venture with a real business plan in the Valley has to practically step over the offers lying at their doorstep. Granted we have a smaller population here which means a smaller number of deep pockets, but we should also therefore have fewer startups looking for funding. I'm getting off topic (and not a little bit ranty), but Mark's last line about not thinking in a typically 'Canadian' sense is absolutely true. What do we need to do to provoke that rabid response in both the venture and tech communities? The Camps and the Mesh conferences are an amazing, inspiring, uplifting start for the former, but what about the latter?</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>(And, as a final aside: this is becoming an awfully long thread of pretty intense posts & maybe an offline lunch/dinner/drinks session for anyone interested?)</p>

  14. I argue for the DemoCamp 'main event' to stay pretty much as-is with breakout sesssions added. The main event should be a limited number of demos delivered to the whole room, with clear direction from Demoers on why they're there and only clarification questions from the audience for about the content of the Demo or what the Demoer is looking for.

    Then, I would add Jay's idea of 'speed-dating' with smaller groups into a breakout session immediately following Demo. I like the idea that after everyone gets a flavour for the thing, whether hack or investment-worthy product, the audience self-selects based on their interest level and clusters around the 3 or 4 or however-many Demoer tables to probe deeper, match interests, aptitudes and expertise. If there's something worth pursuing, people exchange business cards and then take it outside or continue over beer. (The Drake Underground would be great for this, because you don't have to leave to get a drink.) I like the common experience with the big audience & it brings great energy.

    If we really want to do something remarkable, I've got a reality show concept called 'DemoCamp: Monster Island', which I'm pretty sure we can get some interesting funding partners for. More of an iterative bus/dev X-Prize challenge with one winner taking a purse large enough to fund development to take them to the next stage. If we really want to see the startup scene in T-Dot take off, we need to start thinking bigger than Canadians usually do. 😉

  15. Randy's points about parallel presentations not being fair on presenters is a good one. The risk of echo chamber effects in any by-topic or by-type streaming is important too.

    I like Mark's proposal for main event presentation session as is with a break out to get into greater depth in smaller groups.

    I actually really like the 'DemoCamp: Monster Island' idea too. I'm sure there's something similar in the new media area in Toronto, can't remember the name though.

  16. I like where Mark is taking this & limit the number of demos (maybe four instead of six?) and have the presenters up in front of the room. Randy's probably right that 10 people lead to fewer questions than 50, so we get the benefit of the full crowd (though keep in mind that some people are too apprehensive to ask a question in front of 50 might might voice it in front of 10). We reserve the last half hour of the Camp to split into groups clustered around each presenter so that they can meet/greet/respond to other Campers. The after Camp 'receptions' have been sort of working that way anyway, but this would encourage networking prior to the more casual open floor of the bar.

    My intent, incidentally, in suggesting simultaneous demos is that the presenters wouldn't give the same demo over and over, but rather that they would seize the opportunity to get feedback on different parts of their project depending on who was in that particular audience group. At any rate, Mark's suggestion is certainly more practical in that it reduces the need for multiple rooms (as Patrick pointed out), and allows for everyone to see the same presentations.

    I also really like the idea of some kind of X-Prize to encourage bigger thought. The X-Prize (and the original aviation prizes it was based on) was intended to provoke a rabid response in a specific area of R&D and it succeeded pretty admirably. The challenge is (at least) two-fold: finding a deep-pocketed sponsor and finding an activity with a reasonable chance of success (i.e.: something that is out of reach & but only by a reasonable margin). VCs (and I include all potential sources of funding in there, not just traditional Venture Capital) are one of the groups who have been sorely underrepresented at DemoCamp. I think that's generally true for the tech sector in Canada though & a solid venture with a real business plan in the Valley has to practically step over the offers lying at their doorstep. Granted we have a smaller population here which means a smaller number of deep pockets, but we should also therefore have fewer startups looking for funding. I'm getting off topic (and not a little bit ranty), but Mark's last line about not thinking in a typically 'Canadian' sense is absolutely true. What do we need to do to provoke that rabid response in both the venture and tech communities? The Camps and the Mesh conferences are an amazing, inspiring, uplifting start for the former, but what about the latter?

    (And, as a final aside: this is becoming an awfully long thread of pretty intense posts & maybe an offline lunch/dinner/drinks session for anyone interested?)

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