I went to the first LA Demo Day today in Santa Monica, sponsored by just about every top VC firm in SoCal. First impression is that it was really cool. Free admission to give everyone a chance to come, especially those can’t afford inflated ticket costs.
Here are some thoughts.
Free to attend – As mentioned above, it was free to attend, which was just absolutely crucial to ensure a great launch event.
Great location – The Miramar hotel in Santa Monica is awesome. Great old hotel next to the beach!
Well-organized – From the pitch room to the check-in, logistics were great. The AV was working (mostly) flawlessly. And the air conditioning didn’t fail us.
Energy – Such great energy from all those in attendance. LA is on the rise. Enough said.
Jason Nazar – Jason, CEO of Docstoc, is emerging as the face of the LA startup scene. He’s smart, engaging, and (as Mark Suster puts it) svelte! Obviously, he will have an amazing career. Let’s hope he stays in LA.
Spots for improvement
No food – The event ran from 1p – 5p and no food was provided. Again, this was free, but come on. People gotta eat. And would it hurt to have soda?
LA referenced in terms of Silicon Valley – At one of the judges’ panel, one of the judges (I think it was Mark Suster) said that one of LA’s strengths is that it’s not Silicon Valley, in the sense that people in LA think about creating a business that makes money (agree with this). There were a lot of other comparisons to the Valley throughout the day that I can’t quite remember at this moment. LA pride is great but I’m not sure why it’s necessary to define oneself in reference to another. LA should develop its own identity without having to compare itself, implicitly, to Silicon Valley.
Jason Calacanis – Jason was a panel judge. He’s entertaining and funny. But he’s also abrasive, condescending at times, overconfident. Is he really the best ambassador the LA tech scene? Actually, given those qualities, he might just be.
Overall, this was a great event. Can’t wait for the next one. And I hope OC has its own demo day so I don’t have to drive up to LA.