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Start-ups Line Up to Launch at DEMO

Kim Hart

Yesterday marked the beginning of DEMO, the three-day conference that serves as a launching pad for young tech companies. Think of it as a Consumer Electronics Show exclusively for start-ups. Thousands of companies vie for booth space here in Palm Desert, Calif. This year, 76 companies came from as far away as Israel, Taiwan and New Zealand to present their companies. Firms from the tech hubs of Silicon Valley and Boston and even a few from Washington are also here.

Unlike CES, where companies of all sizes show up even if they're not announcing new products, DEMO is a true launching pad. Participating companies apply to be part of the conference months in advance and are allowed to be here only if they are launching a new product or service.

Here's the drill: Each company has exactly six minutes--and not a second more--to sell its product to the audience of investors, technology executives and journalists. They also have a booth to further hawk their wares. Many companies are hoping to attract additional funding, others simply want to let people know they exist. DEMO alumni include Roxio and iMeem, companies whose stature has risen considerably since they had a booth here several years ago.

The companies are often so young that it may take years for their products to hit the mainstream market. But to industry insiders, DEMO reveals clues about what's on the cusp of being the next hot thing. This year, anything dealing with video and mobile devices seems to be all the rage. And applications that make the Web more "social" are quite popular.

Is there a company launching here this week that will become the next Facebook or YouTube? I'll keep you posted.

By Kim Hart  |  January 29, 2008; 7:30 AM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
Previous: Live Video Finds New Uses on the Web | Next: The Announcements Keep Coming, Even Before the First Presentation

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