Demo Producers Look for Innovators in Austin

By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Erick Schonfeld,  executive producer of DEMO. photos by Susan Lahey

Erick Schonfeld, executive producer of DEMO. photos by Susan Lahey

The DEMO Innovation Tour hit Austin Thursday, inviting infant companies that have yet to formally launch to compete for a chance to do so on the stage where companies like Adobe Acrobat, Java Script, ETrade and Salesforce launched.
DEMO Executive Producer Erick Shonfeld has traveled the world looking for companies to pitch at DEMO’s event October 15-17 in Silicon Valley. During the day, the DEMO team, along with Capital Factory mentors, heard pitches from applicants and gave them feedback. Thursday night they threw a party at Bourbon Girl and some of the companies from earlier in the day, as well as some volunteers from the audience, made 90 second pitches.
“I Tweeted out today that when I look at Austin startups, I see real tech focused on real business models,” Shonfeld said. “I didn’t see a lot of frivolous consumer apps. I saw products that are really well thought out, they’re going after a specific market, they know what that market is and they know how they’re going to make money. That’s unusual these days.”

Companies that wanted to pitch had to apply and had to meet several criteria, one of which was that the company was pre-launch.
“For the most part, nobody can know about it, it has to launch on stage. DEMO has to be its public debut. It has to be a technology business, consumer or enterprise, that’s pushing the boundaries of technology or markets in a new way or tagging new markets.”

Attorney Chris Murphy pitched Lawful.ly, photo by Susan Lahey

Attorney Chris Murphy pitched Lawful.ly, photo by Susan Lahey

One of the companies that pitched was Lawful.ly, a business that just launched its beta for crowdsourcing legal information. Attorney Chris Murphy pitched at Capital Factory and said he got “valuable feedback.”
“In our case it validated a lot of what we thought…a lot of it was you’ve got to prove that you’re the team that knows how to do this,” Murphy said. Then they encouraged him to keep in touch as his startup evolves and attracts customers.
Some of the companies that pitched at Capital Factory didn’t attend the DEMO party so other local companies had a chance to pitch, including Beyonic, which helps African nations transition into mobile payments.
Even that had value, said Ronald Miller, VP of marketing and PR for Beyonic.
After his brief pitch they met several people who could prove useful for the company, including a VC who works in the same area they do.
Previous Austin alumni of DEMO include Ube, which won a People’s Choice award in fall 2012, Toopher, Itography, Gelato Dating and Infochimps.

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