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“Demo shows” Really Free for Anyone?

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I’m seeing a LOT of hype about TechCrunch 40 being free for companies to demo at. Eric Norlin repeats that, for instance, on his blog.

That just isn’t true, if you look at it the right way.

Most companies I know are bringing five people to a show like TechCrunch 40 or Demo (which is next week). Shel Israel, in an interview that’ll be up this week on ScobleShow, told me that he recommends startups bring EVERYONE to shows like Demo or TC40 (everyone being someone involved in building the product/service, not support staff like secretaries or janitors). Why? Because the hallways is where the real networking is done and where the real stories get written about companies. If you have five people at a conference like this you’ll have five times more opportunities to get a hallway discussion started that’ll lead to a major blog post or an article in the New York Times (I’m writing a column for Fast Company and am already including at least one company from TechCrunch 40 in it, for instance).

At TechCrunch 40 those people need to buy a ticket. So that’s far from “free.”

Plus, many companies that are coming from outside of San Francisco region need to pay the travel, hotel, and meal costs. That’s not insignificant.

Even people who get in free (and there are always some of those) need to take time away from other things that are important and/or cover travel costs. That’s hardly “free” in my book.

So, what’s the most “free” for both attendees and demoing companies?

How about ScobleShow.com? I’ve had hundreds of companies on my show in less than a year. Far more than you’ll see at Demo or at TC40. Yet none of them, other than Seagate, paid to be there.

Also, no one at home pays to watch those demos and you don’t even need to travel to see them.

So, Eric, you’ve already got your “free for all” demo show! Even better, if someone gets boring you just turn them off!

Oh, and I patterned my demos after Chris Shipley’s Demo. No PowerPoints. Short demos (most of my demos are less than 10 minutes).

Every single company that’s been on my show should say thanks to Seagate. That’s the model for making a “free for everyone” demo show.

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