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Crushing It on the Demo Floor

To crush it on the demo floor at startup conferences, read on.

In 2011, we pitched in Startup Alley. We made a strong run for the top-voted spot and later won the floor competition at Founder Showcase. Below are ways you can stand out in this year’s Startup Alley:

Engage Them: The best way to engage attendees is to get away from your booth! Take a few steps into the walkway and greet them. Read their badge and greet attendees by name as they walk by. They always stop! Engage attendees visually. At Disrupt and Founder Showcase, we brought a 32-inch LCD screen and played our (very flashy) demo video. Like a net, it caught those who stopped to watch, giving us the opportunity to engage them. And we had a 6ft banner showing a graphic of our solution. Both worked (the video worked better). The ultimate engagement mechanism: free stuff. During day two of the conference, one company handed out cupcakes. Everyone stopped there.

Deliver Your Elevator Pitch: Once you win attention, deliver an elevator pitch: Problem-Solution-Benefits. In one sentence each, state the relevant problem people face, how you solve that problem, and the benefits. Tailor it to the person you’re speaking with. To learn more, download How to Nail the Startup Pitch. After you deliver the pitch, show them the demo. Between the three of us, we always had demos going on our two laptops while the third person engaged a new attendee.

Master the Ask: After your demo, always ask for something. Like a date, you approached them, charmed them, and now get their number. If it’s an investor, ask for a follow-up meeting. We made our way into a few conference rooms after the event. If it’s a fellow entrepreneur, ask for advice. If it’s a potential customer, ask them to download or purchase the product. Or ask for a vote. At a conference like TechCrunch Disrupt, if you collect enough votes, you get the opportunity to pitch on stage. Few things are more rewarding than stepping in front of an audience of investors and entrepreneurs to share the product you dedicated yourself to.