Minnedemo20: Holla! Solid Innovations
The flip side of sitting through a boring PowerPoint presentation is Minnedemo. At Minnedemo20 last night at The Depot in Minneapolis, true to form, presenters labored through demos of their tech offerings. It's almost the norm here (see my Minnedemo19 recap). The audience is completely empathetic and nearly expects some sort of tech glitch. Last night had its fair share from screen display size challenges to imperfect toggling between websites and apps.
As if a test of nerves, nearly every presenter had at least one brief or ongoing technology issue during their 7 minute gig. The audience cheered them on, clapped and hollered loudly to encourage them to press on once it had been corrected or simply roll with it if it was unsolvable. This type of support is reflective of the tech/Minnedemo community, which undeniably is all for the entrepreneur and learning about the innovation at hand.
The evening kicked off with a thank you to Minnedemo sponsors at various "byte" levels from tera to kilo and a video showcasing the value of Minnedemo straight from past-presenters. They were, btw, all men even though women have presented in the past. It was the topic of a healthy tweet stream dialogue to which Minnestar (Minnedemo's host) acknowledged the all-male factor and that women were invited to be interviewed, but for whatever reason were not part of the video. For future inclusion no doubt!
Top tech success stories of past presenters as shared in the video talked about how Minnedemo brought them support from others in the community, served as a pivotal point that brought their team together to refine their product/ service to the most simple form, created some media relations and funding leads, and flat out just drove downloads of their app/software (as applicable) and immediate interaction with their product/service.For Minnedemo 20, consistent with past formats, seven ideas were selected and typically two people presented each concept. Sponsors were invited to share a few words during presenter transitions to keep the energy high and focus redirected from the next presenter set up. Notable mentions included BestBuy's rockstar warranty navigation software now serving 10,000+ daily and SportRadarUS' pre-qualification of everyone in the room as viable candidates empowered to leave their jobs and find a new home with them.
The seven chosen ones included KidAroundTown, Token of Trust, Little Peanut On The Go, Text-in-Line, Warm Winter Arts, Nerd Planet and Aurora Wearables. They spanned in appeal to audiences including parents (on the go), foodies, designers and attention-seekers to craigslist frequenters and your average low to mid-level tech-savvy laptop owner. Some presenters even created special Minnedemo walk-throughs or perks. I had already downloaded the KidAroundTown app for my 10 and 12-year-olds to use, but and as CEO and co-founder Aneela Kumar reiterated, it's an app for the kid in all of us. And if you can't get on board with that idea, just know it's pure social media selfie fun.
I love the diversity in ideas and commonality in the pursuit of new solutions for age-old problems and more modern-day rising issues like online safety. As I listened to Karla Lemmon, LPOTG founder, walk through her app, I wondered where had this app been for 12 years of my parental career. I just updated and printed out new instructions for a care provider for the kids last week. It's magnetized to the fridge. Guess that can go.
Other new twists that could put a new spin on anyone's lifestyle included efficiency software like txt-in-line for restauranteurs and tables of 300 (kidding); Warm Winter Art's Hoof It program which promised to be revolutionary for designers looking to do away with the three-day rendering of a space; Token of Trust, compiling online info and habits from users to qualify they're who they say they are; and Nerd Planet, which guides you through simple steps to clean your info off your devices in a safe, secure way.
The evening then took a turn into wearable tech that was highly charged. The #tweetskirt and #tweetsash. Engineer and co-creator Kristina (@gelicia) shared her protype for the skirt and how its evolved (if you're Googling, be sure to check tweetskirt not tweet skirt, or you'd end up with tweed, which is not nearly as fashionable). The LED-powered ticker-board like display across the skirt and sash runs off of tweets you enter through your smartphone. Taking a bit of a risk, Kristina took of the review and approval function for the event and sure enough, some rogue attendees responded as expected.
With another stellar showing of attendees, the Minnestar board of volunteers in turn thanked the Minnedemo volunteers who made the night possible. Attendees certainly enjoyed networking before and after the event -- I ran into a frequent event-goer, John Eichten (@RugbyGuy) and my friend and organizer of #1MillionCupsSPL, Jade Barker (@JadeGrapes). Check out past videos on their YouTube channel and be sure to get on the Minnestar list for the inside invite for Minnedemo21 and more. Tickets sell out fast!