I just left TechStars NYC Demo Day. It was a lot of fun – excellent founders, exciting companies making a lot of progress, lots of energy.
But my favorite part of the demo day was that they did something that was very much different from some others that I’ve attended recently. It’s a very simple thing.
It was SERIOUS BUSINESS.
Sure, there was the music soundtrack intros, there was cheering and jokes, there was a bit of showmanship on stage. But it was all very professional. You get the sense that these are serious people trying to build durable companies that make money and change markets.
I liked that. It has worried me for some time that a lot of the pop-culture allure of the tech scene is centered around hype and flash. Demo days try to bring out an emotional reaction from the crowd, but it’s a fine line between putting on a good and professional show and doing things that make the startups seem petty, or vacuous, or too much fun-and-games. Steve Jobs was the master showman, but he was all businesses – turns out changing the world is serious work.
I loved that Tony Hsieh gave a talk midway through the day about building a culture that forms the foundation of lasting businesses. I loved that when Seth Godin presented my portfolio company Wander it was precise, direct and to the point (as were all the other intros). And I really liked how professional and polished each presentation was.
Lots of kudos for all the teams for their hard work. And kudos to David and the rest of the organizational team on putting together a day that was professional and shows that we all mean business. I’m excited to see how these companies unfold.