So What Was It Really Like to Present at LAUNCH Edu?
It was AWESOME! Yup. That just about sums it up. Have a good day. Check back in tomorrow for our next blog posting.
No, I’m just kidding. Here are all the juicy details of our experience…
Out of 300+ companies on the LAUNCH innovative edtech companies list, DemoLesson was one of the 30 companies selected to present at the first ever LAUNCH Education & Kids event at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Conference Center. We were super stoked to hear the good news and knew this would be a great opportunity to share DemoLesson with a larger audience.
Preparing to Be Perfect
Now that we were added to this inaugural roster, we had to start preparing. After two Go-to Meeting rehearsals with the wonderful Kirin Kalia, we had a live rehearsal with the other 29 companies in Los Angeles the week before the official show was to start. The set-up of the rehearsal reminded me of something you’d see on the group elimination sessions of American Idol. At a front table sat Jason Calacanis and Tyler Crowley, ready and willing to give all the feedback they felt was necessary to ensure the presenters not only captured the attention of the audience, but kept it for the entire five minute presentation. And boy did they speak their minds – no censorship here. I guess it’s common knowledge that Jason has a “I’ma tell you like it is,” no holds barred approach to his commentary, but it was definitely news to me. But hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and as you can see from the final presentations at Microsoft the following week, Jason and Tyler’s blunt feedback paid off.
Hurry, We’re Running Late
After driving through the night from Los Angeles to the Bay in a massive UHAUL truck (we were moving the last of our possessions into our new homes in the Bay), we finally made it to Oakland just 15 hours before we were to hit the stage. Still needing to put some final touches on our site and presentation, our awesome DemoLesson teammates, Gerardo, Aleks, and Pete joined us at the office, working with us through the night to make sure we had everything ready to go for the live debut of DemoLesson. I was the first one to zonk out that night (typical Mandela move – they don’t call me “Grandma” for nothing), but I know that when I fell asleep, I had a big smile on my face, super grateful to be working with such amazing teammates who were all ready and willing to pitch in to make sure we’d have a stellar presentation.
After a few hours of sleep, a nice shower, and putting on some crisp new DemoLesson tees, we did a couple more run-throughs of the pitch, and then hit the road headed for Silicon Valley. (Sidenote: I always enjoy driving to the Valley and passing the huge headquarters of Facebook, AOL, etc. It makes me feel like I’m in the movie The Social Network and I just want to say, “Drop the ‘Lesson.’ Just ‘Demo.’It’s cleaner.” Anywho, back to the topic at hand). We arrived, scoped out the venue, and then sat in the hallway practicing some more.
And then the time came. One of the event directors came to get Brian and I, and we were off headed towards the stage, laptop and cell phone in hand. The laptop was for the presentation. The cell phone was so that I could text our friends and family to tell them to tune in via Ustream. Before I knew it, I heard Brian’s voice say, “Good afternoon,” and then we were off and rolling. The presentation went very much according to plan, except for one minor hiccup in my computer navigation skills when I couldn’t exit a pop-up screen (oops…Sorry!) Other than that, though, I was proud of what we had done, and even more proud of Brian for his incredible presentation sans notes and all! From all the positive feedback we received after our presentation, it seemed as though we had hit a home run!
I was glad we presented in the very first group on the very first day of the event. That way, we got to spend the rest of the event sitting back and enjoying the presentations of our peers and networking with all the other attendees at the event. Company after company did a fantastic job showcasing their innovative education tools, entertaining the audience, and inspiring everyone to rethink the way we approach education. Ever since launching DemoLesson late last year, I’ve been attending increasingly more edtech events (e.g. StartUp Weekend Education, SIIA Edtech Summit, and the upcoming ISTE Conference), eager to meet people who are passionate about this space and the potential technology has to make a positive impact on the teaching and learning processes. I think Jason, Tyler, and Kirin did a fantastic job organizing and executing an incredible event, and giving new edtech companies like ours a larger platform in which to share our innovative tools and services. Congratulations to all the participants of LAUNCH Edu, super kudos to all the teams that took home awards, and much respect to every education company and organization out there working hard to revolutionize the way we teach and learn. The only way things are going to change is if we make them change!