If you haven't: the presenter "live codes" a quick Twilio application in front of the audience, showing a server-side program which serves TwiML (Twilio markup) that does some trivia action, like "Say hiya to the caller." They then have one person call a number which connects them to the application. It says hiya to them.
People clap a little.
Then they ask the entire room to call the same app. It says hiya to everyone.
People clap a lot.
Then they say "We can get the list of numbers which just called our number from the API, in one line of code. Here, let me print some on the screen with the last four digits covered." Nervous laughter happens.
"And then I'm going to have it call all of you, and bridge you into a teleconference."
Presenter hits enter. Every phone in the room rings at once. Crowd goes wild.
I've seen this demo 15 times and it never ceases to be absolutely magical.
The best time ever was when I presented to Bob Metcalfe's class and he heckled me:
I got him back in my closing though:
Fred Wilson also wrote about that one: http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2010/08/how-to-pitch-a-product.html
Circa 1992 and seemed strangely appropriate.
I remember Twilio giving this exact demo in 2009, though I can't find the video. There were audible gasps from the audience back then, the moment people realized their web development skills suddenly applied to telephony.
Here's a copy of his presentation, it was pretty awesome to watch. https://github.com/RobSpectre/Talks/tree/master/SMS%20For%20...
I'm sure Twilio's success is due in no small part to dev evangelists like Rob, I hope he's well rewarded for it.
The problem is: how do you follow these principles for less obvious applications? For example, how do you impress your audience if you sell a database engine? It is a good startup exercise to think about it. I would be impressed with a tool to quickly design a web application in the same way Visual Basic did 25 years ago instead of talking about Bootstrap, Foundation, AngularJS, React, etc.
Me too! So we built one - https://anvil.works
The "Hello World" app takes 45 seconds (there's a video on the homepage).
The "Display a slideshow of images from Google Drive" app takes a whole five minutes, because I talk through it slowly (video at https://anvil.works/learn - scroll down).
If you want to demo (eg) a DB engine, you'll want the "uplink" that lets you call code on your workstation from your app. (There's a three-minute demo of us controlling a Raspberry Pi that way: https://anvil.works/blog/uplink).
I recommend to do a "Show HN" to get invaluable feedback from HN users.
I know it can be painful but listing your competitors will be useful.
Python lets us implement simple, idiomatic APIs for things that would require multiple frameworks, nested lambdas and async hell in JS. (We translate into async hell in the compiler :D)
Expect an HN post or two before long...
You don't even seem to have basic auto-completion at the mo. Even hinting the names of your declared controls would be a start.
I love every time I go back to c# to write a tool or test harness. Autocomplete and intellisense allow me to barely type and let the code fly out from my fingers getting my production closer to the speed of my head figuring the stuff out. The difference is amazing.
"we have taken the entire messy and complex world of telephony..."
Twilio _chose_ and solved a problem that sucked. If your product doesn't solve a tough problem, it will be almost impossible to get the same "wow" factor that Twilio does.
Maybe the answer is that less obvious applications will simply be at a disadvantage right out of the gate.
This, I think, is the core truth behind the oft-repeated observation that you should "pay attention to the startups with a few customers that absolutely LOVE their product". Not all valuable problems are ones that a general audience is likely to comprehend, but when you narrow it down just to the audience that does, how do they feel about what you're doing?
Put differently: the Twilio demo is so effective not just because they have a very good problem, but because it's an exceptionally common one as well. They have an impressive solution to a tough problem, sure, but they laos did a very good job aligning "the people who have this problem" with "the people listening to this demo", and that's what makes it great.
I found that quite impressive. Was it Rethink or MemSQL or some such?
Anyone else remember that video?
Edit: or it's just a common demo. :o)
It's called ASP.NET Web Forms. Version 1 was released in 2002. Demos of it back then were quite impressive.
Could you please point me to some modern demo?
Instead, they had something to show, and touch, and feel. They actually had a product. That is the key to a good pitch.
I also heard the CEO of SAP (I think) talk about a sales call he made while he was a JR sales rep at Xerox. It was also pure salesmanship but the end of the story was that he closed the deal without the woman who owned the company even turning on the copier or typewriters.
So, I think the thread that ties these two pitches together (one that was all demo and the other that was zero demo) is probably that the salesman got the decision-maker to trust him.
I have given similar demos. You first explain what you are going to do. Before the demo, they go all go into "no, it is impossible. I have been in this business for 20 years. Blah blah." You demo it, and once in a while, they get it, their jaws drop and they appreciate it. But mostly, it is a suspicious disbelief, followed by adversarial challenges where they insist you disclose everything under the covers right then and there.
I have even heard this: If this was possible, why hasn't IBM done it?
Sometimes, it is pretty depressing.
"Personal computer technical support", for instance, is almost certainly referencing the scam where someone cold calls you and tries to explain that your computer is infected. There aren't a lot of legitimate businesses that could be called "personal computer technical support", and I suspect of the ones you may even be thinking of that Stripe may classify them differently. I imagine the mom & pop shops are classified as hardware vendors who happen to also offer services and the more serious versions of that business are "consulting". (And at that point, probably not using Stripe anyhow.)
That's easy to say right? Oh it's a scam.
I can't use Stripe because my business falls into the "Scam" area. Am I a scammer? No because otherwise my business would have failed years ago.
I happily use another competitor. I haven't had any issues with them and since I am not a scammer, I don't foresee any either!
Remember. One mans ITS A SCAM, HE'S A SCAMMER is another mans very successful business which people don't have a problem with.
You may not be a scammer, but that's a horrible argument. Bernie Madoff's scam started in the 1970s. He wasn't caught until 2008.
In addition, they are pretty useless in some regions where they do not support locally dominant payment methods.
https://stripe.com/us/prohibited-businesses <-- US list is much more clear-cut
The whole story is a fascinating tale of human nature more than technology. Maybe one day...
What was the thought about where the "marketing stunts" would lead? More consumer-focused product would lead to your company becoming the next AT&T or something?
And yes - I would take B2B any time. B2C is hard and requires twice the luck B2B does. When you provide a service to businesses, if your service adds value, they will buy it. When you deal with consumers, you have to be trendy, at the right place and time, cool, exciting, amazing, talked about, add value or not - who cares, etc.
That startup started as a B2B idea, and morphed fairly arrogantly to a hip wannabe consumer app.
Just show how it's done. Be simple and clear. Don't try to spin. Don't inflate the future or past.
Definitely going to dig up some of Twilio's demo videos and study them.
Is there any further information on the warning?