By Jen Consalvo (Co-Editor & COO, Tech Cocktail) Last year, I hosted 20 events across the United States -- each event bringing together a solid mix of entrepreneurs, developers, designers, investors and other tech enthusiasts to rally 6-14 early stage, local startups. This year, Tech Cocktail is on track to host even more and the number of startups applying for the free demo spots at each event is increasing. Fortunately, the number of female founders applying is increasing too, but not enough. We still see far too many events where only 1 or 2 out of 20 applicants are female.
Because we mostly showcase "early stage" startups, many applicants we get are literally still in alpha or beta phases -- this is the perfect time in your product cycle to demo at an event and get feedback.
At Tech Cocktail, startups demo in an expo-style so you are talking and pitching to individuals, not to a crowd. You get real-time feedback. If you show someone your product and you get blank stares, you can adjust your pitch. If you get interested, potential customers, you can stay connected. It's an amazing opportunity.
If you are working on an early stage startup, I encourage you to apply to be a part of one of our events in a city near you. Here's some of the great company you would join in terms of female Tech Cocktail demo alumnae:
Aimee Sando (Founder, TownFit) demo'd just last week at our San Diego Tech Cocktail Mixer event. Aimee is the Founder of TownFit, a search engine that helps people find a local trainer that meets their needs, and provides trainers with a centralized platform to track and communicate with all their clients. Aimee used the event as a way to draw attention to TownFit and get feedback, giving away free pilates lessons to a lucky visitor. She walked away from the event with many new contacts, fans and potential customers.
Alexis Tryon (Co-Founder & CEO, Artsicle) demo'd at our NYC Tech Cocktail mixer event last year. Artsicle is this amazing marketplace for connecting art buyers (even those of us who have no idea what we're doing) with top emerging artists and allowing people to "try before you buy". The site was still private, but she came and demo'd anyway. Her feedback? "We were overwhelmed by the interest we received from the crowd, great feedback we were given, and encouragement for our Alpha product. The event has already led to a variety of introductions to new artists and hopefully a few of our first customers!"
(Pictured, above) Desiree Vargas Wrigley (Co-Founder, GiveForward) demo'd in Chicago a website that allows people to crowd fund money for medical expenses. She's done an amazing job of collecting feedback, taking her startup through the Excelerate Labs Chicago accelerator and last February closing a round of funding for $500K. By coming out and showcasing her product, her team made valuable connections with people who could help them: "At this most recent Tech Cocktail, we met several people who offered to help pro bono in a number of ways from assisting with our presentation deck to improving our SEO."
My point is, by getting out there and showing off what you're working on, you can gain much more than a refined pitch. No entrepreneur builds a successful venture alone, and you never know where an important connection might pop up or a valuable new suggestion.
The best part? We write an article on TechCocktail.com about every startup who demo's at our events -- that coverage can lead to more coverage and we all know how important media coverage can be for a young company.
This week we're hosting events in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I encourage you to come see some startups in action. Interested in demoing? Future 2011 events include DC, Vancouver, Boston, Austin, Chicago, Champaign, Bloomington, LA, San Diego, another San Francisco event and more -- check out Tech Cocktail's events schedule. Watch our schedule and look for the "call for startups" announcements.
We'd love to see some Women 2.0 readers apply to demo at Tech Cocktail!
About the guest blogger: Jen Consalvo is Co-Editor & COO of Tech Cocktail, a media company that focuses on celebrating entrepreneurs, emerging technology and innovation. She is also Co-Founder of Shiny Heart Ventures, a technology startup focused on building community driven products that remind people of the joys of life, including Thankfulfor, an online gratitude journal community. Prior to Tech Cocktail, Jen worked in product development. Follow her on Twitter at @noreaster.