FounderFuel’s demo day is the tip of the iceberg. Weeks of hard work boils down to a brief window of minutes where you have to pitch your life’s work.
As the founders stand up and take the stage, with music blaring, you can’t help but wonder what is passing through their minds: is it anxiety? A slight sense of vertigo? Or a quiet strength seized at the last moment?
This set of founders seemed to have drawn from the latter. From presentation to presentation, the focus was on achievement, metrics, and team—and most important, the potential they were rushing to converge upon.
DoBundle was the first one up, and although CEO Yezin Al-Qaysi seemed nervous at first, he rounded into form as he described how to harness the vast potential of the visual web to exponentially increase the amount of sales for any e-commerce portal. Pictures throughout the web of products became easy and frictionless ways to convert passive admirers to active consumers with DoBundle.
Kiwi Wearables was up next, and they boldly proclaimed that they already had $600,000 committed in their current funding round. This was because what Kiwi proposed was game-changing: using motions to activate features in software applications through interaction with a wearable hardware component. Knocking on your phone could, for example, check you into a hotel. They had just opened up phones to a full range of motion beyond the typical phone shake, and now, having opened their platform to developers on the web, Kiwi Wearables was ready to seize the full potential of their idea.
Tattoo Hero was third: they were pitching a social network that aimed to connect tattoo artists with their clients. They aimed to solve the pain points of both sides of a rapidly growing market: for tattoo artists who were working on paper, this was the software solution for their appointment and scheduling needs. For customers, this was an important way to see just how good their tattoo artist was, and to request something they had previously designed. The platform had accumulated 400 tattoo artists, including many celebrities in the field.
Truth came next. An anonymous messaging application that allowed you to hide your identity when you message your friends, it had been featured in the top 100 applications in the ITunes store and was seeing massive traction. Users described having conversations they never had before using it, as CEO Ali Saheli brimmed with excitement at the prospect of expanding further.
Vain Pursuits was, in the same vein as Tattoo Hero, a software solution that looked at fixing a broken consumer experience, this time in skin care products. By quizzing young women, and offering them the exact cosmetics they required, Vain Pursuits generated more sales for cosmetics providers, while saving an exponential amount of time for buyers. The team strode away confidently after.
Vanhawks was the last one up, and having rushed past its Kickstarter goals, the carbon-fiber smart bike providers were looking to change the world of cycling. The connected bike could tell you what the safest bike paths were with the least traffic, and coordinate with other bikes in the area to ensure that there were minimal collisions. It was, quite simply, a revolutionary new take on biking.
As the teams huddled together for one last group photo, you could see the energy that resonated from all of them, the sense of togetherness that came from struggling together week-after-week for this moment of glory. It was an emotional moment: their mentor, Ian Jeffery, was departing from FounderFuel to go to PasswordBox. So much progress had been made in a brief window of time: all of them passed the test of Demo Day. Now, they would have to separate and build out the potential they had demonstrated for all of us.