Boomstartup is over! Memories of Demo Day are almost two weeks old. (Good thing I JRNL’d it.) I can’t remember the last time I was involved with something that seemed to last so long and equally went by so quickly (maybe high school?). Demo Day was the culmination of 12 weeks of hard work, intense scrutiny and mentorship and the camaraderie that developed over 12 weeks with some of the best people you’d ever want to meet. As I look back on my time at Boomstartup, I am reminded how I was so unsure of taking the leap of faith. I was told that I would make friendships in a competitive environment. I was told I would meet great mentors and potential investors. I was told I would be glad, no… happy, that I came to Boomstartup. As I write this post nearly two weeks after the dust has settled, I can say that the promises made to me by Sumner Douglas and the Boomstartup program were kept.
Here’s a recap of how Demo Day went down:
9:00am (More like 8:00am for this worry wart) – Arrive at Westminster College for Pitch Practice. I left my AirBNB rental in Sugarhouse and summoned Uber. It felt like game day to me. I was excited, if not a little anxious, and looking forward to the opportunity to present in front of a crowd of investors. When we got to Westminster, I had no idea where we were headed, but luckily there were people around and we were directed to the Jewett Center. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the quality of the venue that Boomstartup used to pull off this event. It was top-notch.
9:30-12:00pm – Everyone went through their powerpoint or keynote presentations. We worked out any last-minute kinks and recited our pitches one by one. I have to say it was pretty cool to sit in the audience and listen to some of the companies pitch. It was equally cool to hear each company supporting the other with positive feedback, encouragement and the occasional suggestion. You could see that real friendships developed in this group and it was nice to be a part of it all.
12:01pm to 1:30pm – Final run-through was pretty quick. Each company was given 4-5 slides to work on their delivery and where they would stand in a mock-live scenario. If you look at the photo from the stage looking up, in the top left corner of the chairs, we had a 40″ TV (not shown) that showed our pitch deck as we delivered our presentation. It was easy to see, but in the dark with a spotlight on you, it was easy to forget to look.
2:00pm to 3:30pm – Mingle with investors and kill time. Other than the occasional mentor that I ran into, this was mostly time to kill before the fun started. Most of the investors were huddled together to catch up and this part of Demo Day wasn’t really designed for companies to talk to investors. It just worked out that way.
4:00pm to 5:45pm – Each company waited backstage and prepared to move from waiting to room to the next-up room. Sales Bridge kicked it off and was introduced by Greg Warnock of Mercato Partners. I couldn’t see or hear their pitch, but I was told by a couple of investors that they absolutely killed it. If I remember, Known Factors went next and Carl Churchill handled the duties. I saw their pitch during practice and he seemed to have it under control. Clancy Marshall and Cleverywhere went next and she had one of the more fun presentations that I saw during practice. Since her company is in the educational gaming space, her graphics where pixelated like my favorite 1980s video games. Very clever! RoviTracker was fourth to present. Alain Eav is one of my favorite Founders in this year’s cohort. I can honestly say that Alain was the most improved company during the Boomstartup program and he should be proud. He has a great company, too. Shop Hero was next and I heard they did a very good job. They were the smartest company on Demo Day showing up with marketing/tradeshow material to set up in the lobby. Zizzle kicked off the final four presenters. Lukas Lohove might be the most impressive young entrepreneur I’ve met in quite some time. He’s traveled the world, speaks Mandarin, German (he’s from there) and his English is darn impressive. Even more, he’s quality people and I’m sure you’ll see him running a major corporation one day. Vutiliti was seventh and dropped the biggest bomb of the night. Not only was Vutiliti one of the top performing companies in the 2016 Cohort, they also managed to land Sumner Douglas as their newly minted COO. If you’ve been following my blog, you know I think Sumner is phenomenal. Keep your eye on Vutiliti. Core Learning Exchange was the second most improved company in the cohort and while they are focused on K-12, I really hope they refocus on corporate learning. They could become a monster in that area. Last, but not least, was JRNL. We were honored to be the closing presenter and I know we did well. We closed our Seed Round with relative ease and were greatly oversubscribed. I will post the video once we get it so you can see for yourself.
5:46pm-7:00pm – Chasing the money begins in earnest. A room full of investors ready to speak with the companies they like and nine companies ready to pounce. As I said above, Shop Hero stood out. JRNL had suitors all over the foyer and we did a lot of card collecting. We’ve made some great friends and connections that I hope will last throughout the remainder of my career.
When Boomstartup started it was like a whirlwind. Meetings, mentors and new friends. It’s awesome and inspiring. Then as the program gets on, you feel pressure to perform and a desire to close money quickly, which rarely happens and leads to frustration. You worry every day about losing time with your company while still fulfilling your commitments to the program. The last 4 weeks go by in a blink as you march towards Demo Day. If you’re a good public speaker and you understand how to tell your story, things will undoubtedly be easier for you during the last four weeks. If you have a great design team, it gets even easier.
In the end, Boomstartup was worth the equity that we gave up. The money isn’t what the program is about. The friendships and connections last longer than the money. I would recommend any entrepreneur to consider Boomstartup* to give their company a kick in the pants.