In 18 years, DEMO continuously proves itself to be a leader that helps entrepreneurs showcase their novel products as well as venture capitals meet up with new startups that are of great potential. At this fall, however, DEMO is going to face a real "head-to-head" competitor. After DEMOfall 2008 was announced from Sept. 7-9 at San Diego, TechCrunch50 declared to be hold from Sept. 8-10 at San Fransisco.
The main melody of the story is credit, money, and passion. In specific, it is DEMO's credit versus TechCrunch's money, plus passion from the attended companies.
The focused debate (apparently) between the two organizations is the $18,500 demonstrator fee required by DEMO for each selected company versus free attendance for every selected TechCrunch50 company. Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, even shared with the media by saying that "Demo needs to die." Is TechCrunch an angel fighting to the evil old dragon DEMO? Certainly not. Both sides are equally businessmen/women.
Many people has been distracted by Arrington's comparison between "pay to play" and free to play. Even Chris Shipley herself defended palely by only repeating that "the fees may well establish those that pay it as serious about their products in the minds of the press and venture capitalists that attend." Fair argument, but less than strong and convincible enough.
In fact, Shipley should ask the question back directly and clearly---isn't the admission to DEMO worth more than $18,500?
Moreover, Shipley should add---any successful (or at least claimed to be successful) businessman/woman should have the ability to convert the DEMO admission ticket to at least $18,500 endorsement, it is a demonstration to both of their passion to the product and their business skill of marketing!
On the basis of the 18-year-success credit, DEMO and Shipley can exclaim the previous two points in loud voice. The credit of their conference is worth more than the money they ask. And the money they ask is not at all a debt but instead providing a chance for young entrepreneurs to show the world that they are not only passionate to the product but also ready to be real businesspersons.
On the other hand, by waiving such a fee, TechCrunch50 also waives a chance to help young entrepreneurs raise their ability of decidability, which is far more important and valuable for the young entrepreneurs in a long term than being waived an amount of $18,500. It is an ability to survive under pressure and an ability to extend a business by grasping a tiny oppotunity such as an admission ticket to DEMO.
For venture capitalists, if there are two young startups,
1) both of them have good product with great potential,
2) neither of them has money,
and hence ...
3) one decides to go for the free TechCrunch50,
4) the other one decides to use the DEMO admission ticket to raise $18,500 endorsement and attend DEMO,
Question: which one would you pick to invest if you can invest only one of them?
The one that takes the pressure and has demonstrated its ability of converting a tiny chance to business success deserves being given a prior consideration.
Please allow me quoting myself to conclude the post. Free is a nice feature, but free is not always good and healthy for the growth. Some time, and many times, paid demonstrates more than free, especially when it is a time for demonstration!