Until two years ago, DEMO, a conference franchise owned by technology publisher IDG, ruled the roost when it came to ‘company demonstration’ conferences. It took Techcrunch’s TC50 to really ruffle some feathers before the 17-year-old conference finally had some real competition.
The core differences between the two conferences? Well DEMO charges companies for the privilege of attending (the fee is now more than $18,000), whist TC50 primarily charges its sponsors (as well as companies presenting in their ‘demo pit’). DEMO tends to have larger, well funded companies promoting their goods. TC50 is a less glitzy affair, bringing unfunded companies often with only first versions of their product available to show off their stuff.
Additionally, until now, it was only TC50 that offered a prize to the ‘winner’, an amount totalling a generous $50,000. Now organizer Matt Marshall of VentureBeat, who was recently recruited to organise the event, has announced that DEMO will be stepping up their game with a prize pool of $1 million dollars each for two top winners at DEMO. The prizes will be awarded to the best enterprise startup and the best consumer startup. The catch? The prizes come in the form of ad and marketing material.
According to the blog post on VentureBeat, Matt Marshall says:
“The campaign will include print advertisements, web banner placements, text link promotions, email newsletter promotions, and video ads. The package includes the development of creative content that is to be featured on IDG media properties – another huge value proposition to the winning companies.”
While competition in any industry is always good to see, I can’t help but feel each of these conferences can (if not already) corner their respective niche – in what Center Networks editor Allen Stern calls – “startup-infomercial” conferences..
DEMO with primarily well backed/funded companies, often with established products and/or reputable founders. While TC50 can corner the market for innovative genuine startup companies who have had had little access to funding, little previous experience, but extraordinary ideas and concepts. The fact that Michael Arrington, Techcrunch’s founder, has organised TC50 to fall in the same week as DEMO seems rather pointless when both companies can have the opportunity establish themselves, their own dates AND create a foothold in their respective niches. That being said, its a very clever marketing ploy of Arrington’s to automatically get the media comparing the two…which is actually what we’ve just done here (doh!).