Startup Demo Night Experience and Lessons

startup
Building 78 at Kearny Point. (PC: korendezvous)

As some of you might be aware, I started Breaking Boundaries to help empower and inspire people to go after their passion(s). I get motivated when I meet people who are set on finding success and work really hard to turn their dreams into reality even when the odds are stacked against them. I haven’t been to a startup event in a long time, but I figured I should start regularly attending some to meet industry disrupters and share their stories with you. Awesome thing is, I have been finding opportunities to network with go-getters that I have overlooked in the past. I guess it’s true when they say you attract what you are ready for.

So, this past Thursday, I attended an event with Koren, from the YouTube channel, korendezvous, where we got acquainted with New Jersey based startups. We met founders and presidents of Cinematcher, PicoTurbine, Fusar, mademeals, and Youui. They were all amazing and very driven individuals with immense passion for their products. We had a great time speaking with some of them and hearing about where they plan to take their startups.

The Startup Demo Line-Up

Quick profiles on the startups from the event:

Cinematcher was founded by Lauren Magura. It’s a mobile app for tablets and smartphones that match applicants with employment opportunities in the world of media production. Think Tindr or any other dating apps, but for connecting talent with employers instead.

Next up is PicoTurbine. The president of the company is Michael Burghoffer and they’re located in my hometown of Jersey City, NJ. Bonus points! ;p PicoTurbine’s mission is to “create a passion for STEAM learning through hands-on learning programs.” They are also a STEAM education product and service supplier.

Dr. Geraud Krawezik is Fusar’s lead software engineer. Fusar = Technology + Adventure. They are creating the world’s first technology platform for action sports. If GoPro and Facebook had a baby, it would be Fusar.

Now, how many of us try to eat healthy, but life just “gets in the way”? This is where mademeals comes in. The founder is Jesse McBride and it’s an easy to modify meal prep subscription based program.

Last is Youii which was co-founded by Jabari Sills. It’s the first-ever subscription based ride-sharing app exclusively for university students. With prices as low as $40 a month for unlimited rides, I can see this project being very popular with budget-conscious students.. which probably means around 99% of all college students. 😀

The Experience

It was held in Building 78 inside the business growth district, Kearny Point, in Kearny, NJ. The startup demo was held inside Dry Dock Bistro which had an open bar and hors d’oeuvre’s for the event. Neat little place!

Unexpected Nuggets of Wisdom

We got the chance to meet a couple of guys who were renting out one of the co-working spaces in the building. We got to talking and asking each other what we do (they run a photography business). One of them asked if I do Breaking Boundaries full-time and I told him not yet. I also did mention that my retirement date from the cubicle life is set for 252 days from now. I even went as far as showing them the countdown I have on my phone, lol.

The host of the event made a few quick announcements. Then, all of a sudden, he turned to me and said, “You know another way you can do it is, instead of 250 days from now, you just say tomorrow. You just do it and you’ll have to figure it out.” He went on to say that if I had, say, a 3-month savings buffer, I just make a goal that, in three months, I’ll be making enough from this venture that can sustain my lifestyle.

Courage. He said  it takes courage.

The event was starting so that was where we left the conversation. I actually had to ponder that because, really, it sounded great. I would LOVE to be able to just up and leave my job. I’m sure this will sound like an excuse to me and to you, but I’d rather not worry about basic necessities and dipping into my savings. I want my focus to be directed at scaling Breaking Boundaries the right way and not distracted by having to sell out and monetize quick so I don’t lose the roof over my head.

But, hey, if I get crazy enough, I just might quit before the countdown reaches zero.

The Presentations

So, the presenters took turns showcasing their products. They each had 5 minutes and a Q&A portion.

The Takeaways

Have a crystal clear vision. PicoTurbine’s mission for their company was very apparent in everything they did. Because of  it, it’s a lot easier to back the company and believe in what they’re doing. They knew exactly where  they were going and what they wanted to happen, so there’s no confusion about the next steps.

Know exactly what it is that you offer. This was my experience actually. The first question I was asked by one of the people we met was, “So what do you do?” And, for some reason, I had a hard time giving him a concise answer. I mean, obviously I know what I do, but I think I need to phrase it in a way that helps people understand what problems we solve and who we’re aiming to help.

Find a gap and fill it. A couple of startups like Cinematcher and Youii had services that would probably make you say: “Now WHY didn’t I think of that?!” The gap in the industry was so obvious that it was really easy to miss. I mean, a ride-sharing app that caters only to college students. Imagine the potential in that..

You or your startup don’t have to be perfect. Just take action. Mademeals is still in beta testing mode. I think that’s the best way to figure out how  to make your product or service better. Put it out to the public and listen to what they say. From there, make changes as necessary.

Be innovative. Fusar’s product is paving the way for the action sports industry. I don’t believe that you have to create the first kind of product in an industry to be successful, but there is something about being the first to do so. What I believe in more is being able to take an existing product or business model and making it better. However, it can’t hurt if you just happen to be an innovator. 🙂

Post-Presentation

We had a chance to tour the building, but we opted not to go. Instead, we chose to talk to the founders. We got some of their contact information and I’m planning on keeping the lines of communication open in case we can help each other out in the future.

Other Startup Events

There are more local events that I’m going to that I’ll be sharing with you guys. So, please if you’d like to keep up to date, subscribe to my blog! Also, like, comment, and share with others so we can all benefit from the experience. Thanks!

Thoughts on this post? Comment below!