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Greetings From Demo 2007 Fall

I'm in San Diego where the fall Demo conference kicks off tonight. Demo is a unique event in the industry. Over the course of the next two days, 69 startup exhibitors will demonstrate their cool new software, service, or hardware -- or all three, in some cases. They'll all do it on one stage in front of a crowd of a few hundred journalists, VCs, and other industry movers and shakers. So how do they manage to run 69 demonstrations in two days on one stage? It's all about the elevator pitch.
I'm in San Diego where the fall Demo conference kicks off tonight. Demo is a unique event in the industry. Over the course of the next two days, 69 startup exhibitors will demonstrate their cool new software, service, or hardware -- or all three, in some cases. They'll all do it on one stage in front of a crowd of a few hundred journalists, VCs, and other industry movers and shakers. So how do they manage to run 69 demonstrations in two days on one stage? It's all about the elevator pitch.Each exhibitor is given just six minutes for their demonstration, with just a few words from the host in between sessions. It's interesting to see these excited visionaries explain their concept cum business in that short span of time. Sometimes its unintentionally funny, too.

What you can expect is lot of consumer plays, a lot of software or enabling technologies for other's consumer plays, and there should be some cool products for small businesses, too. I expect, for example, to hear the words "Web 2.0" at least 1,000 times over the next few days.

For those of you who know me, you're probably wondering why I'm the one covering this show. While I fancy myself pretty adept at picking enterprise startups, this crowd often baffles me. But I was curious about the show and attended the spring conference in Palm Springs -- I just happened to be in the neighborhood (no, really, I was). Well, having covered the event once and my relative proximity (me in San Francisco, the show in San Diego) makes me highly qualified. Uh huh.

If the spring event is any indication, I'll have a hard time understanding what some of these companies do. One that sticks out in my mind provided a system that you could use, for a subscription fee, I guess, to turn your cell phone voice mail into a personal reminder system. Don't write that shopping list down, tell it to your cell phone and you can play it back later. I admired the presenters' enthusiasm, but not much else.

On the other hand, another entrepreneur showed off this very cool camera that was just slightly larger than most digital cameras, but could produce 3 x 5 color printouts that looked great. Turns out the paper was hard to tear, too. How cool is that? The paper is the magic. It has three layers of crystals which are white until heated with a laser. Then they turn either green, red, or blue and can be used to render good-quality pictures. Of course, the paper is the problem, too. The prints were expensive.

As you might expect, with that much chemical, mechanical, and electrical engineering behind the product, there was larger company using this startup as a skunk works. Still, everyone was digging that camera, which would probably be better used for other systems like making identification badges on the fly and things like that where the cost of the print would be better justified. But I digress.

Over the next two days watch this space. I'll be calling 'em as I see 'em live from the show. But don't expect to see write ups on all 69. Just like yours, my mom drilled into my head that if I don't have anything good to say...