DemoDay has become a near ubiquitous concept. Modelled after Y Combinator’s example, DemoDays typically feature a series of short pitches…

DemoDay has become a near ubiquitous concept. Modelled after Y Combinator’s example, DemoDays typically feature a series of short pitches (ranging from 2 to 10 minutes) from founders to an audience of investors.

The problem with DemoDay? It’s all about hype. And hype is not a goal worth pursuing at an early stage in your startup. Our approach is different. We call it “DemoTime” and, basically, we retain some of the key features of DemoDay while losing the parts that have brought “DemoDay Fatigue” to the entire ecosystem.

Here’s what we decided to keep:

1. Celebrating achievements

Our DemoTime happens every quarter. And, for early stage startups, every quarter marks new and significant milestones: releasing your MVP, kicking off your pilot phase, setting up a pricing plan, raising funds to continue growth…

DemoTime is a great moment for teams to look back at our proudest accomplishments. And to share their learning experience from one batch to the next. Whether it’s things that went well, or not so well.

2. Honest communication

A standard feature of any DemoDay (the kind we don’t like 😉) is the “humble brag”. Usually narrating how tragically misinformed and ultimately fruitless early efforts to crack the problem had been, only to reach an epiphany. But, truth be told, any founder goes through that cycle several times a day.

What’s more important — and what DemoTime strives to focus on — is highlighting the process that brought an important turning point in our project: what was the insight that we gathered? How was this insight interpreted? What actions resulted from it? How did it alter the overarching vision? It’s a collective exercise in alignment, from the day-to-day basics to the 5-year-plan.

3. Challenge your vision

DemoTime is an exercise in keeping 2 important things in mind: firstly, that vision is contingent on a lot of factors, and second, that committing to a vision is vital for the future of any company.

It seems contradictory, but it’s our way of arriving at a vision that is both grounded in reality and anchored onto our founders’ instincts. DemoTime lets us keep an open line of discussion on critical elements like vision, and make sure we account for both imperatives: reality, and instinct.

4. Commit to short-term goals

A startup can’t live in the future — a lot of the time that is how Demo Day feels: a team of 5 with a bare bones product is laying out the path for the next 10 years. Having a vision is necessary (see point above), but in order to bring the vision to life you need delivery. And the best way to deliver consistently is to commit to short-term objectives.

Since our DemoTime is quarterly, it’s the perfect time to go over some of the highlights of the upcoming roadmap and state clearly where we want to be 3 months from now. Product, marketing, funding: all the important topics are tackled and boiled down into an actionable list of targets.

5. Enjoy the moment

DemoDays are a stressful experience: so much is at stake over such a short period of time. But the truth about building a startup is that it’s not played on such short cycles. Being able to pull through DemoDay is hardly a statement on your ability to make it through the next couple of years. What will get you through that phase is a tight-knit team.

So enjoy the moment. Part of the excitement of being an entrepreneur isn’t just the thought of making it big, it’s also being in the early phase when everything still needs to be worked out, and you’re still getting the team in gear to work it out together.