Demo Day Impressions
Once the presentations wrapped up, I walked around and gathered some impressions from the crowd; here are a few highlights:
Heather Brundage of Apportable commended the third class’s teams for their high level of presentation polish: “They were all great, but also very consistent with each other; you could tell they’d been very well-coached.” Her standout pick: Moxxly, for rising to meet a challenge “most men not only no concept of, but have never even stopped to think about.”
Highway1 mentors Ron Evans and Adrian Zankich of the Hybrid Group proclaimed that they felt like “proud uncles” seeing each team present. “They came off as seasoned, professional veterans,” Zankich said. Having worked with many of them from the start of their time here, seeing how they’ve evolved, particularly since the trip to China, was especially rewarding. “This is the end of Act One,” Evans said, “they’re ready for their close-up now, and we’re delighted to see what’s next.”
Just about every response included something about how smoothly the event itself went, for which PCH’s Nina Wright could probably take a healthy chunk of credit. “We did three run-throughs,” she explained, making sure to clearly define things like the placement of demo units and sound/video cues. The most important part? “Keeping the energy up so that everyone speaking feels good going onstage.”
Ash Martin of Lensbricks, looking forward to starting in the next Highway1 class, said Demo Day was “really inspiring, especially knowing where some of these teams were when they started.” He couldn’t pick just one particularly impressive pitch, singling out Cargo (“like an OS for cars”), Peeple (“great use of small form factor to solve a real need”), and LookSee (“an interesting take on wearables and artistic content”).
The variety on display was also something Erin O’Malley of the PCH sustainability team found refreshing, but she was especially excited by “the potential applications of products beyond their immediate pitch — FishBit, for example, could be used not just for consumer tanks, but eventually in factory environments.”
Birdi’s Justin Alvey, a Highway1 alum, said he felt this third class was “reaching to see what they can do with tech beyond four inches of pixels to solve meaningful problems in the world.” Moxxly was his chief example: “I can only imagine how much of a pain point that is, and it’s been abandoned by the people traditionally responsible for tech; the greyhairs of the world aren’t going to build something for young women.” This Demo Day, he said, felt “more intimately human.”