Take a Hint (or 5): How to Get the Most out of Attending Capital Innovators’ Demo Day

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One of the biggest annual events for St. Louis’ startup community, Capital Innovators’ Demo Day is less than 30 days away. Taking place on Tuesday, May 16 at The Pageant, the event is free to attend and you can reserve your ticket online now.

If you’ve never been to Capital Innovators Demo Day, you can expect it to be one-of-a-kind, described by the tech accelerator’s COO Brian Dixon as “a mashup of Shark Tank and a trade show.” Not only do attendees get a front row seat to hear pitches from some of St. Louis’ top tech startups, but also they get the opportunity to meet the founders at their booths and network with everyone the celebration draws (upwards of 700 people attended last year’s event).

Whether you’ve been to Capital Innovators Demo Day before or this will be your first time, you are sure to have a good time. But why stop there? With a little advance planning, you can navigate the event like a pro and get more out of it than you thought possible.

1/ Get there early.

The team at Capital Innovators expects an even larger turnout this year than last, so that means over 700 people will be looking to grab a good seat. It’s general admission, so get there at noon when doors open to stake out your spot. Extra tip: Bring a jacket to mark your seat so you can use the time before the main event to grab a drink or do a lap around the booths to meet the founders who will be pitching.

Capital Innovators Demo Day
Capital Innovators Demo Day 2015

2/ Bring a notebook.

The program kicks off at 1pm with a talk by Leslie Miley, who has served in engineering leadership positions at Slack, Twitter, Apple and Google. Miley is currently working with Venture for America to launch a new Executive in Residence program designed to connect Silicon Valley leaders from top tech companies with startups in cities throughout the US with the goal of accelerating startup ecosystem growth. You’ll want to take note of ideas that come to mind during his keynote address, as St. Louis is one of the markets for the EIR program.

Directly after Miley’s talk, the pitches begin. Graduates from the Capital Innovators Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 cohorts will take center stage. Each company’s founder, armed with a pitch deck and a microphone, will have eight minutes in the spotlight. It moves quickly, so make note of who you’d like to chat with later so you can make a beeline to their booths when the pitches conclude.

3/ Take a meeting.

Unlike some pitch events, Demo Days allow you to meet the founders face to face after hearing their pitches. Each startup will have a booth with its team members there to show you their product up close. It’s a great opportunity to ask any questions you have after seeing their polished pitch or to simply make a connection. If you’re a student looking for an internship, a potential investor wanting to get involved or just a curious spectator, there’s no downside to taking a tour around the perimeter of the space.

4/ Take a chance.

Been wanting to learn more about the application process for Capital Innovators or to chat up some of the investors or corporate innovators in the startup scene? Now’s the time. While you’re there to get a first look at the startups who are presenting, there is ample time during the five-hour event for networking with top-tier investors, corporate strategists and the press.

5/ Keep the conversations going.

At 5pm, Demo Day officially concludes, but that’s when the unofficial celebration begins just down the street at Blueberry Hill. Let’s be real: sometimes the best ideas strike over good food and drinks, so be sure to join the revelry.

Register online now for your free ticket to Capital Innovators Demo Day.