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Highlights from Demo Day 2012

Excelerate Demo Day 2012 brought over 500 investors, mentors, and entrepreneurs together for a day of pitching and high energy. Check out the highlights here.

Tickets are still available for the Community Showcase tomorrow (Tuesday the 18th)! If you want to see this year’s class present their pitches lives, make sure to get your ticket before they sell out.

So You Missed Demo Day?

Yesterday was Demo Day: the culmination of a summer of hard work and learning by the Excelerate 2012 class. They presented flawless pitches to a room filled with over 500 investors, entrepreneurs, and press. You can read about it on IncGigaOMFastCompany, and many others later today.

Excelerate companies have raised over $25 million in total and have had two successful exits in just three years. So what do these pitches look like, and how can the community get involved?

This year we are throwing the doors open to the startup community and presenting an Excelerate Labs Community Showcase. Companies will present their pitches from Demo Day to the community, emphasizing their experience throughout the summer and opportunities to get involved.

You should attend if:

1) You are an entrepreneur and you are curious what top pitches look like

2) You want to be an entrepreneur but are just starting to learn what that means

3) You want to work at an amazing early stage startup and are wondering what opportunities are available

4) You want to support the Chicago startup community

5) You’d like to learn about new technologies and concepts coming out of our great city

REGISTER NOW: The Community Demo Day will be held at the UP Comedy Club at Second City on September 18th. There are a limited number of seats available so make sure to get yours today.

What’s It Like to Pitch Dave McClure?

The other day, the legendary Dave McClure came to Excelerate to impart his wisdom and advice to each startup. Entrepreneurs were nervous but prepared to meet the startup hero…knowing this meeting would be unlike any other. Many people have asked exactly what a meeting with the f bomb dropping startup guru would be like, so we decided to ask our teams how it went.


BabbaCo’s Jessica Kim: The Business Model Pivot

BabbaCo began as an innovative baby products company, but founder Jessica Kim discovered a more fitting business model. Check out her journey and how participating in Excelerate….accelerated her learning.

Top 3 Tips from Excelerate Alumni

During the first week of Excelerate, the alumni gather to share their sage words of wisdom to new companies. This year’s wisdom sharing was exceptional, with about twelve alumni from the last two classes sharing their successes and shortcomings frankly. Here’s what they advised (and what you can incorporate in your startup regardless of where you are):


1) Stay on Top of Relationship Building- The first month of Excelerate, companies meet with over 100 mentors. Some are potential investors, while others are industry experts and all of them offer their expertise openly. Justin Massa from Food Genius was infamously organized when dealing with so many relationships.

“I kept mentor month self contained. No matter how late I had to stay, I wrote every thank you note to that day’s mentors. It was imperative not to fall behind.”

This strategy can be applied to any new relationship you make. If you’re planning on writing a follow up, take notes during the meeting and follow up as quickly as you can.

2) Tap Into Your Community- Almost all alumni wished they had gotten to know each other sooner. I can attest to this: my Excelerate Class (’10) became exponentially closer AFTER the program than during it. There is always work to be done, but being close to so many amazing people is a short term phenomenon. Take advantage! If you work in a coworking or shared office space, are you friends with everyone around you? Make sure to reach out and make connections with the people you see every day…sometimes if we are not mindful of this, these relationships are the ones that are ignored.

“Make friends sooner. Take lunch away from the laptop and talk to someone new every day!” – Ethan Austin, GiveForward

3) Do Your Research- Before mentor meetings, alumni all agreed that doing research on each mentor truly optimized the interaction. It may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but it happens more frequently that one would imagine that entrepreneurs get caught up in work and forget to look up information on a contact before they meet. Avoid this by using Rapportive, or having a LinkedIn app on your phone.

“Mentors are exceptionally busy, accomplished people so assume they know nothing about you, but know everything you can about them.” -Seyi Fabode, Power2Switch

This summer’s teams are prepped and ready to take on whatever challenges this summer will bring. If you’re working on a startup, are you ready for Summer 2012?