The Saturday of July 9 2011 was host to two of the biggest product start-up events in India - Proto.in and Unpluggd. YourNextLeap, which is a Pune based start-up was fortunate to be selected to demo at both! Here are some learnings from the unique experience that the nextLeap team would love to share with fellow start-ups.

 

The biggest challenge that any start-up faces during an event is to give a good demo that tells the audience about the problem, the product, the team and the story behind it. All this and more within a span of not more than 7-8 minutes! What are the best ways to create that perfect demo session?

Content of the demo

What should be the flow?
An ideal demo should first tell what problem the product is solving and then move on to its main features. To keep it simple to understand, give the demo from perspective of one single user. How the user came in to the system, how he solved his problem, why he came back and so forth! This approach can really help the audience understand the usefulness of the product.

But don’t forget, start with a bang and finish with a louder one! Conclude your demo with the value proposition and summarize the whole story.

Multiple tabs = Smooth ride
If you are an Internet product start-up, instead of relying on the Internet connection at the demo, keep your browser open with all the required tabs! This saves the precious few seconds for each new page to load. And yes, you do not need to start with the registration process and sign up since people are not there to see your registration flow.

Quote Numbers!
If you have some milestones that you have achieved e.g. no. of new features that you have launched, new users that you have gained etc. feel free to flaunt them off. You do not get better venues to tell the world about your achievements, and you can’t impress people by simply saying that you have “substantial” market share.

Tell them about your team!
A demo is not just about the product, the audience wants to hear about the backstage stories. Tell them about the hard work that has gone into the making and who are the rock-stars that make this possible. It gives a personal touch to the story and keeps the audience hooked!

Preparing for the demo

Be prepared for Mr. Murphy’s Law!
Always expect the worst, and then prepare accordingly. So many things can go wrong which are outside your control; hence try to wrap up the presentation in 30 seconds less than the allotted time to account for such interruptions.

Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse some more!
Put most of your efforts into this! It can really disturb the flow of an otherwise good presentation. It also helps to keep a clock in front of you while rehearsing and really soak in the script.

While giving the demo

A demo partner is your safest bet
You after all are a human being, and trying to run the audience through the user-flows plus tell an engaging story can get difficult. Find a demo partner from your team who will keep the demo going on the screen while you talk on the stage.

Skype conversations and GTalk buzzes
Demos can go into the pits simply because the speaker forgot to logout of his gmail or social networking or IM chat website! So keep them closed and let the audience focus on your demo, after all the whole world doesn’t need to know your personal conversation with your girl friend or boy friend ;)

Movement is good, but don’t overdo it!
One thing which the YourNextLeap team faltered is at movement on the stage. While a healthy dose of hand gestures are good to emphasize a point, it distracts your audience if you are walking all over the stage.

So there it is, hope you can learn from our mistakes and our experience, and when it’s time for you to give a demo you make it perfect and make your team and supporters proud!

About me :)
I am the Founder and CEO of YourNextLeap – which is a recommendation engine that acts as a virtual career counselor for students to make smarter and more informed career decisions

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Tags: demo, jobs, product, proto, pune, startup, unpluggd

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Comment by Jaydeep Milind Durve on September 19, 2011 at 9:36am

Very helpful information. I have attended the Startup Saturday seminar that your team gave a while back. Really impressive concept...!!!

Comment by Anand Anil Kochar on September 13, 2011 at 11:38pm

Hey thanks for sharing your experience. This is really helpful.

Also checked YourNextLeap and its quiet intresting. I really like the concept and the site.

Comment by Ashish Belagali on August 3, 2011 at 1:12am
Very nice article. Thanks for it. I especially liked the mention of the distractions caused by skype, gtalk alerts and the likes. I noticed these nuances on the screen when a professional software product demo was given remotely (over webex) to a prospect. They are highly distracting, to say the least.
Comment by Mohit Bhonde on August 2, 2011 at 2:15pm

I completely second there is nothing more useful than practice, and caution that is to be excercised..

While I have more thoughts some of the thoughts that to my mind just now

1. People try to demo the product for what it is not

2. It is a great idea to have a binding presentation of feature.. a feature map helps navigate

3. It is perfectly fine for demos to see BSOD (Blue screen of death) (metaphor).. people understand now.. the trick is to know or have a fall back plan.. you might want to quickly restore

Comment by Sandeep Mukhopadhyay on August 2, 2011 at 1:08pm
Wonderful post regarding product demo..Cool !!!
Comment by Nikhil Karkare on August 2, 2011 at 10:24am
Nice writeup! All the best with YourNextLeap!
Comment by Shreyas Patil on August 2, 2011 at 10:03am
This is really helpful. Thanks for sharing.

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