‘Demo Day’ highlights new apps
By Elizabeth Mc Nally
Published on Monday, November 12, 2012
At the College’s first “Demo Day,” representatives from Mitosis Undergraduate Accelerator, a program started by Riley Ennis ’15 and Matt Ross ’15 to support young entrepreneurs at the College, and Barris Incubator Program, a platform for Tuck School of Business students to promote their business ventures, presented their companies’ products and business plans to an audience of 120 undergraduates, Tuck and Thayer School of Engineering graduate students, faculty members and investors in Tuck’s Borelli Classroom on Friday.
Presentations included mobile phone applications currently under development, including SquareOne Mail, which provides users with an interface to solve email problems such as information overload and disorganization; SqrShare, which allows users to share their personal experiences through social network outlets; and Puddleworks, a digital gaming startup that incorporates news stories and current events topics into user-friendly games.
Puddleworks uses “real world information to create rich gaming,” such as “Peoplemon,” a parody of the well-known “Pokemon,” that allows animals to catch celebrities such as Charlie Sheen, according to co-founder Terrance Bei ’13.
“Through Demo Day, we want to help the ventures that we, Mitosis, have and that Tuck has,” Ennis said. “We want to give them mentors and alumni to help them shine and to help them get to the next level. I expect it to be really great in terms of providing Mitosis with the funding and everything else necessary for powerful ventures to come.”
The event afforded participants the opportunity to showcase their efforts to a large audience. The experience prepares aspiring businesspeople to better market their products, Ennis said.
“I am really happy with the event — everything went super smooth, everyone’s pitches were unbelievable and I foresee good conversations to follow, but it’s too early to tell what kind of connections will be made,” Ennis said.
SqrShare founder Chris Woods ’13 said that many presenters attended the event to share stories, hear new ideas and exchange feedback. The event enabled entrepreneurs to meet alumni and investors who could assist them with their future business ventures, according to Woods.
While planning Demo Day was not difficult, Ennis said that the only challenges organizers faced were encouraging people to attend.
“We affiliated with [Barris Incubator], and once that fell into place it was easy to get people to want to come up,” Ennis said. “The hardest part was starting Mitosis and creating a network and research database. The event planning was streamlined, but we really want Mitosis to be sustainable.”
Organizers emailed multiple venture capital networks and investors in the Upper Valley and Boston to raise awareness about the event, according to Ross.
Although he does not know if Demo Day successfully expanded students’ personal business networks, Ennis said he was pleased that a variety of venture capital companies, including the New Hampshire Granite Fund, abi Innovation Hub, Borealis Ventures and Google Ventures, distributed contact information at the event.
“I think this is the future,” Ennis said. “We have a lot of interest and talent, and a lot of important people [who] will help develop a new model to make the program sustainable. It’s going to add a lot of value to the ventures, educationally and from a resume standpoint. It will impact career and educational experience.”
Although organizers did not initially expect to hold a Demo Day in the winter, Ennis said that the high attendance may have persuaded planners to host the event in subsequent terms.
“We’re hoping to do a Demo Day once per term, but it depends on how many ventures apply for next term,” he said. “It’s a 10-week program where we connect the ventures with mentors, resources and lawyers. It’s a program where you can walk up to us with an idea and apply, and if we think you are a good fit, we will tell you our plan of action for the term.”
Ennis said he expected fewer students to participate in a Demo Day in the winter because Mitosis would have less time to recruit those who are interested in pursuing their business ventures, he said.
“Mitosis isn’t just about the ventures and research — it’s about impact,” Ennis said. “We collaborate on ideas that make an impact. There is no real place like that at Dartmouth — everyone has to do it on their own.”