By Roger Liew

After a positive initial pitch to Impact Engine, the next step typically involves asking for a product demo, because we love seeing the vision in your presentation come to life. You should put as much thought and preparation into the demo as you did into the pitch deck. Think of it as a continuation of that compelling story about your product and company that hooked us during the initial pitch.

During your demo, I’m interested in the features that deliver the product’s key value drivers, and form the basis of your company’s competitive advantage. Ideally, we walk out of the demo with a clear understanding of your secret sauce, and how your product solves a big social or environmental challenge. Be prepared for lots of questions during the demo process. We love to engage deeply with our companies, and the starting point for us is always to ask lots and lots of questions.

Begin the demo by setting the stage for what we’re about to see. Call out the most critical components of your product, explain why they are important and focus on showing those features to us. However, begin the demo by typing in the URL for the system we will see. Starting right from the beginning with something as simple as login demonstrates care and thoroughness and a complete product. I prefer to see the experience from the perspective of a user rather than an admin, and regular users tend to receive a more refined experience.

Let’s explore a specific scenario, the product demo for an intelligent software platform that manages a portfolio of renewable energy production and storage devices. There’s a summary dashboard with overview performance, capacity, and alerts. I would drill into an active alert with a prediction that based on forecasted clear weather, we expect to produce more energy from solar and less from wind, but still be able to supply needs for that day. Another alert, proposes topping off our battery installation from an excess of wind energy on the market. Our system is intelligent because it learns to improve its recommendations from past performance. I can show you the history of recommendations and outcomes.

In this example, I’m focused on highlighting a key differentiator by creating a scenario that exhibits a compelling capability of the system. My demo scenario is built on an installation of the product with appropriately sized and up to date data sets. Events are happening in real-time during the demo. Even if the demanding and complex customer doesn’t exist yet, it’s compelling to generate data that will allow you to effectively show off your product’s full capabilities. You’re not ready to do a demo if you cannot show us the capability that sets you apart.

Other tips to help complete the scenario include,

  • Have production systems with production URLs, which are always more authentic. We like to see how the system will perform and no customer will use an AWS EC2 instance URL.
  • Use real data, or create data that looks like real data. If your healthy lifestyle software supports ten of thousands of patients, create a database with tens of thousands of patients. Your development team can automate this in order to automate their testing.
  • Create realistic user profiles with diverse histories. It’s hard to create a compelling demo if the systems are full of students with identical academic performance or patients with identical histories. Again, your development team is capable of automating this.

We love to experience your vision manifested in a compelling demo. While our observations are focused on investor demos, our friends at Glimpse validated the importance of these items in the sales process as well. Their founding team continues to observe sales demos to track which features resonate with which audiences. Take the time to practice walking through the system with all the data loaded in advance, so we can see the full potential of your product first hand.

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