Why I Do DEMO

A couple of days ago, Carla wrote a post about why she is part of the DEMO team. Forgetting for a minute the overt flattery (sorry, Carla, but I told you a raise was out of the question this year), she is in this game for much the same reason I am: the companies and entrepreneurs we get to meet.

I was talking about that on Friday when I got an email from Tim Musgrove, founder of TextDigger. The company launched at DEMO 07, and Tim was writing to me more than a year later to tell me that the company had closed its funding. Now, I don’t post email messages in my blog without express permission, and I’m glad that Tim said it was okay to share this one:

Hi Chris,

Just thought you’d like to know that TextDigger closed a VC round last week.

We had an interesting journey from garage stage to VC funding. The DEMO 07 appearance was *very* valuable getting us in to a lot of VCs.

What we found out, in the weeks following that, was that we were *not* ready for the VC community at that time. Their fear of Google was so great (and our application tied so strongly to search), that investors balked at “going up against Google” — the much-hyped Powerset funding notwithstanding (every VC we met literally *rolled their eyes* at the mention of Powerset).

So, we used the rest of 2007 to revamp our business. Instead of launching a destination site of our own, we instead provided plug-in search-enhancement service to 3rd party websites. These sites now invoke the TextDigger technoogy to make their site search better (by adding automated semantic tags, and more intelligent related search recommendations based on semantic analysis of user queries, etc.) In early 08 we hit the VCs again with this new business model (and with big name beta customers to our credit) and they liked it.

So even though our funding didn’t come directly out of attending DEMO in> 2007, nonetheless our very valuable lesson-learning did. We have strenuously recommended DEMO to the handful of other startups that have asked us about it.

So, thanks again.

Best Regards,

-Tim.

There’s likely a lot of commentary about Tim’s experience in a hyped investment segment and the path from garage to growth to venture. But for now, I’m just happy to congratulate Tim on the growth of his company, the successful navigation from concept to customers, and the closing of funding.

The fact that entrepreneurs like Tim look back at DEMO as an experience that positioned them to find their center and grow from it, and that they feel compelled to share their stories back, even after a year or more, is much of the reason I keep doing DEMO. I get attached to these companies and I’m invested emotionally and intellectually in their success.

And when one of them hits their stride, as TextDigger has, I’m really proud of them, and delighted that DEMO is a part of their story.

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