We caught up last week at the Business Insider start-up conference/competition last week at NYU where Matt was a judge. He is co-producing the show with founder Chris Shipley, who leaves after the fall event. DEMO will be held in San Diego, CA from September 21-23, and this year, unlike last, it won't overlap with the TechCrunch 50 event.
Matt told me that the number of companies presenting this year at DEMO will be expanded with a second tier earlier-on of less funded start-ups in a category titled AlphaPitch.
Matt, a former foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and business reporter for the San Jose Mercury News started VentureBeat in late 2006. The site had nearly a half a million uniques in May, according to Compete.
Andy Plesser, Executive Producer
Andy Plesser: Hey Matt, Matt! Welcome to the show. Great to see you man.
Matt Marshall: Yeah, great to see you Andy. How are you doing?
Andy Plesser: Doing great. So tell us about DEMO. What are the plans and it's really, congratulations on this whole new gig. Tell us about it and what we can expect in September.
Matt Marshall: Yeah. DEMO…we've got some exciting things waiting. We just announced a new feature called AlphaPitch, which lets younger companies get on stage and present in front of the same class audience that's been there year after year. Basically it gives them a place on stage that they haven't had before because before you've had companies that are paying a lot more money for full, full market offering and this gives smaller, younger companies a chance to get up there as well.
Andy Plesser: That's great, great. So tell us about what you saw today and the sort of the venture back start-up scene here in New York and…it's always been a backwater to Silicon Valley, but what of your take on it?
Matt Marshall: You know, I thought it was really refreshing. We have these conferences all the time in Silicon Valley and it gets a little tiring, frankly, because you have the same people, same lessons talked about. And here, you just got this notion that it was a lot more fresh. Some of these lessons were being said, but more freshly. I think we saw some encouraging start ups today, we saw Article One for crowd sourcing research on patent litigation, PathOne [HRPathOne] for jobs, but you get the sense that there's a lot of companies out there that are on the tail end of the cycle, that are a little too late. There are still companies that are launching to serve as ad networks, for example, with no clear value proposition that exceeds what's already out there. For example, there's a company that wanted to do ad networks for health sites and it wasn't very clear what more they were bringing to the table when there's already twenty companies doing the same thing. Right.
Andy Plesser: Tell us, you know, briefly, this is like a whole long story about the success of VentureBeat, but, you know, how you got to where you are, briefly, sort of, and where it might be going. You know, what your hopes are for VentureBeat.
Matt Marshall: You know, I'm very humble when it comes to talking about success of VentureBeat because every day–and you know this Andy, running your own site–it's a fight because there's a lot of noise out there. So you just have to stay really focused and, well, I've found incredible fulfillment and meaning in providing really, you know, articles, reporting that mean something to people out there. And I'll think that's what's fueled its growth. So we continue to grow and continue to focus as you get more readers you have to make sure that you are focused and that you don't get to a point where you're trying to do everything. So, we're gonna focus on doing what we do well, which is writing about innovation that's out there–the most exciting innovation in the Valley and beyond, and writing specifically about how that innovation should be applied to people's lives. So business people, such as yourself, and tech savvy people in non-tech companies. How can they use Twitter to get ahead, for example.
Andy Plesser: Let me ask you one last question. Getting back to the question of, uh…getting back to the question of DEMO. So with all the events and all the conferences, how do you expect DEMO to be different? What is its unique value as you see it?
Matt Marshall: I think, DEMO has a twenty year history of sorting through, vetting through all the companies out there, and we're seeing thousands of companies a year. So Chris Shipley has a great reputation for being an incredible vetter of these companies, bringing them on stage with great production vaues. I mean, you've been there. The internet works, the stage works, the organization works, and the media come because they know they're going to see the best companies there are. And so I don't intend to change that. I intend to make sure that we're gonna continue to see these great companies, vet the best ones, you know fifty or so companies, and get them on stage so they can present to the market. Now, you know, if you're asking, okay there's a lot of…companies that are launching at places like this. The proposition that we have at DEMO is that we're really focused on the product, right, products that are ready to launch. A lot of these guys weren't ready to launch. Some of them have products that have launched, but what we're talking about is launching to the full market with a big bang.