Demo Day Pitches Are Too Polished

I get less and less value from demo days. I attended the 500 Startups Batch13 demo day this past week and each of the pitches followed a very specific formula. By the time the 3rd or 4th pitch was over, the companies all started soundingindistinguishable from one another. It’s hard to make a secondary marketplace for cosmetics sounds like a 3D printing company and yet they somehow managed. This isn’t polishing presentations, it is grinding them down into a standardized unit for mass consumption. Each of these companies is crushing it with X% margins, XX% MoM growth and $$$ in ARR. Each has super secret ongoing conversations with big industry players and each just might be able to squeeze you into a round. What do the companies do? Its not entirely clear but they are in a big market, isn’t that enough?

I don’t want to cast shade on 500 Startups because I think their program is valuable for the companies and I don’t want to demean the companies who presented, many of them actually shine when you talk with them 1:1. The problem is that demo day seems to take everything exciting and interesting away from these companies. I don’t know if it is the time constraints or some desire on the part of the accelerators to level the playing field between their stars and their bench but whatever it is, I think it does a disservice to the companies. If I were to give any pre-demo day advice it would be to standout, whatever it takes. If you have impressive metrics drop them on me quickly but then move on to the human part of your story. Be unique! Be relatable.