Check: Demoing Product at BarCamp?

Having witnessed the over hyped Barcamp4@Bangalore, there is definitely something to learn especially if you plan to demo your product next BarCamp. Learning is in terms of what to expect from the event, what essentially to keep in mind while preparing your PPT.

1. The ratio of newcomers : old Comers is increasing every Barcamp – This potentially means two things; One – Barcamp is getting famous, thus attracting the new crowd, two – Certain amount of unspoken disappointment is not motivating quite a few many good guys to turn down those not-so-important commitments for the Barcamp (I’m talking about local guys, forget non-local).

Reality check – My conversation with Arun PC (One the high energy guy (also my classmate), who can give you real treat with his insightful questions/ confusions!)

Discussion before Barcamp

           me: Are you joining Barcamp this weekend
           Arun: Barcamp is this weekend?
           me: yes
           Arun: yeah, i am going i’ll better register

Discussion after Barcamp

           me: Hey, did you come to Barcamp?
           Arun: i did not. i had other commitments

Definitely I don’t mean that the new comers wouldn’t constitute such people but that it may not be the kind of event you are expecting after reading a lot on blogs. The audience primarily is only good enough for brand building or Beta testing your product.

Somehow we believed to see some investors (rich guys) and therefore, oriented our presentation keeping such audience also in mind. What we received in return was just few developers’s community & some naive audience, it wasn’t like this @ Barcamp2.

2. Increasing non-techie factor

Again, “I’m not against it but it is just to set the right expectations” for the folks who must have heard from lot many pre Barcampers that it is the conglomeration of cool geeks & technical intellect. The definition of Barcamp is getting redefined now.

A surprise – In spite of that fact that ‘Startups collective‘ attracted the maximum crowd in the mornings, they were allocated a small room away from the central auditorium, however, while in L22 room, I heard that the the Un-Band (Music group) – which is not the reason why people come to Barcamp – enjoyed the Big auditorium. Quite interesting!

Thus, either the guys who are already very keen in your product (though very few in numbers) will come early to grab the seat or will be patient enough to stand in case of overflow. Rest of the attendees who remain hopping, may not be your real target. Thus, set the right expectations before planning.

AJAX, JAVA, RoR collectives weren’t at all present the initial day, all it reflects is that the priority the technology factor isn’t enjoying the esteem, it used to enjoy earlier. Again this is just to convey that BarCamps are evolving rapidly, relating with the older experience for the new one, might give you a shock every next time.

3. Increasing unstructurism in Barcamps

Talk to people offline, almost everyone I talked to was cribbing about the inefficient Barcamp this July. Problem however is not that the Barcamp wasn’t good but that a common attendee’s word had no value to improve it. Talk to the Mic. holders (most visible faces) , either your words are thrown away in between a joke or in the name of “audience-defined” event, no serious ear is given.

Mic holders on stage though made a call to bring many people on stage with 30 seconds to speak – A real experience might not be easy to articulate and express on stage. It apparently lacked any good views to be shared. May be over-time they’ll figure out what to improve.

But yes it still is definitely a place where you can hit the chord with the right people who match your instincts. You’ll find all the famous bloggers, entrepreneurial guys around at least the first day (no guarantee for the second day however).

No doubt its an un-conference – which should remain unplanned however little more effort to make it structured wouldn’t dilute the spirit I’m sure (as against the belief).

Lots to improve before Barcamp 5!


17 responses to “Check: Demoing Product at BarCamp?

  1. Hi!

    Yes barcamp had his share of disappointments like any other (un) conference. You found audience not upto the mark and i as a member of audience found most of the marketing talks to be the lousiest of the lot.
    First of all, barcamps do target technical people. If you were expecting Investors then you should have gone for or whatever was the name of conference for investor and entrepreneurs. Barcamps target audience is developer community primarily.
    Coming back to presentations. Most of the marketing guys presenting the products were lousy and I have no doubt about this. If the audience profile was not according to your imagination, you guys failed to adapt the presentation on the fly. I for instance prepared my presentation according to hardcore developers ( I was not demoing anything) whereas I faced not so development oriented audience. Result i adjusted my presentation accordingly and talked more about user oriented stuff instead of development.
    This was first time I attended such disappointing presentations by marketing people. In one of the demos we had three guys trying to sell a product and they cant even show one live demo of the product. To add to disappointment, one of the guys got upto to stage next day and announced that he is going to repeat his presentation (read torture audience) as he did not received good response. How about learning some presentation skills dude ?
    Overall I think barcamp suffered from lousy speakers more than anything else. yes there were problems organizing the stuff but the hard fact still remains “Quality of talks were not upto the mark” and organizers cant be blamed for this.

  2. I agree with most of the points that mentioned here.
    i) Past attendees not coming back.
    ii) Yes there were quite some crowd who were out of place, but were there just for checking out.
    iii) Some amount of smart scheduling needs to be done. Point taken.
    iv) A place to meet great folks. I vouch for this.

    However, there are few things that you might want to consider.
    i) Barcamp is a place for people with various back grounds, to expect so called rich guys was a misplaced expectation.
    ii) My personal opinion, non-techie crowds are good. They bring the tech. crowds (day in day out we do the same thing) to get in touch with a wee bit of reality and provides us with valuable insights on how they see things.
    iii) I guess it’s not right to blame it on irresponsibility. The organizers have done a great job in getting such an event to run smooth. The issue might be with not sufficient thought behind the sessions itself. (Though a lot went behind the event.). I am sure we will improve it next time around.

  3. Hi Vivek.

    In the first place, May be you are true about the lousy presenters, I think we as presenters do need to learn something i.e. to change content & style on the fly (you said it very truely!). Feedback taken!

    But believe me once you stand on the stage with half the people busy talking, some glued to their Laptops, some even sleeping (during the end of the day), presenters too can’t help it. They tend to get discouraged. But again as most of the startup guys are not marketing guys inherently, they depend a lot on the audience.

    You say Barcamps do target technical people, Is there any standard definition about it? Had it been then why would Biking, UnBand, NGO guys attend? It means to be open for anybody & in fact it looks better with a variety.

    I witnessed fair presence of Investors at BarCamp2 @ Thoughtworks premise because it was also a platform to demo upcoming products. Doesn’t their absence hint something …?

    We did present at Proto as well. But does the very existence of Proto signifies the absence of investors at any other such (un)conference?

    Proto is just two editions old and India is still struggling to create platforms for investors to meet startup guys. Barcamp definitely stands good for the same!

    And about the blame on Organisers – Intention wasn’t to blame anybody! Problem is also not the lack of efforts by organisers, they have been doing real neat efforts else how would we witness the event at all? The issue however is the constructive efforts to improve upon the same. All this entry intended was to bring an awareness that let Barcamp be un-planned but it need to be lot more structured.

  4. “Had it been then why would Biking, UnBand, NGO guys attend?”

    To my knowledge, MOST of the people from these collectives were in other collectives.. None of them were the Primary Collectives for us..

    I was mostly sitting in bloggers, internet, mobile collective.. And attend the Unband only when it happened..

    Secondly, Auditorium doesnt facilitate Interaction and Discussion.. Its a classroom kind of a setup.. UnBand DID NOT use it for the entire two days.. We used the Audi for our sessions only because of the Acoustics.. BCB3 and BCB4 were held at IIMB, at no point of time has the Audi been used for sessions..

    In BCB3, when Lawrence Liang spoke, it was help in L12 with the ENTIRE SUNDAY CROWD, mostly standing.. And no one complained..

  5. Piyush,

    I too felt there is need for some more effort, we all shall work towards it next time.

    Folks of same interests have had their own share of bcb, be it Un-band, NGO, Social etc etc anything in that case.

    Piyush its wrong in saying “BCB’s are meant only for technical talks”. But we need to create an open learning environment for everyone.

    Investors? u expect investors to sit and listen ruby framework? or ajax callbacks?

    The organizers are trying their level best, now its time we should be helping hands to organizers and strengthen them.


  6. Dear Jayanth
    First, all due respect to every individual & collective. I just meant from the context that L22 room went over crowded, people din’t stand coz they started feeling uncomfortable. May be adjusting startup collective in the Audi (at least during mornings) would have made more sense! And it is just an observation tracking the pattern over barcamps.

    Dear Sridhar

    Did I ever say it is only for technical people? Can you hint me to the line where it sounds like this? Looking up at the comments I feel too sorry that people are picking up the instances of the composition not the real essence or the crux of this entry.

    About Investors – Why not? We did have Investor’s & startups collectives. Barcamp is a pretty cool platform to target them as well. Thats one of the most interesting & most valued aspect taking birth today in India.

    However, this is true that we as participants talk much and help organisers less. If you see it from different perspective for a moment, this blog entry is just to bring awareness about this not to criticise. However, not many are getting to understand this point!

  7. Piyush,

    “AJAX, RoR” that particular line says tech should be given “priority”. If I am not misunderstood.

    Investors. Yes as any other participant. They are most welcome. even better as sponsor.

    Now, I really dont understand why is so much of pressure on word “investor”. Yes we can surely have a “Demo Collective” in BCB5. Thats it.

    “On the name of networking- lot of attention & T-shirt seekers”. This line should not be under non-techies title coz even a lot of “Techies” take tshirt and dont show up on 2nd day of the event.

    Yes, we shall work together to help organizers.


  8. My friend it definitely doesn’t mean that it is meant for techies. Probably you missed lots many other statements, where I promote & welcome other people.

    I made changes to my composition based on your suggestion.

    And take it easy!

  9. Hi! PG

    When you are presenting stuff you need to be ready for any situation. If a presenter cant respond to situation that means he is lousy. Sleeping audience, people glued to there laptops e are realities of any (un) conference and a presenter needs to learn accordingly. Responding to a situation is intelligence and a good response to such a situation would be to involve more and more audience. If nothing works start a discussion around your topic. And yes, keep a tap on those nerves.

    I did attended biking, unband and guitar clinic. But fact is they formed a small portion of barcamp. Yes they are equally important as they form the lighter side of the barcamp.
    I dont know about barcamp2 and yes absence of rich guys do hint towards something and I take it in a positive note. Absence of rich guys could be interpreted as a sign that more people are interested in discussing technology at barcamp and less of invetment and market.
    As for quality improvements, i think organizers have done a commendable job and now the ball is in the preventer’s court. Presenters need to improve the quality of talks. We received technical as well as non technical in good proportion but until we improve the quality of presentations we will not be able to hold the audience. This signals towards one of the reasons why barcampers do not repeat themselves.


  10. I was totally disappointed @ BarCamp. I attended with the hope that IIM will do usefull events but it turns out to be different. In the Startup Collective every body talking about FUnding, VCs VCs VCs VCs………. No is talking about Peoples Problem how we can solve them, strategy for hiring @ startups, hot to improve Technology awareness in India and so on. Instead of Letting the Professor to talk about Startup why can’t you guys let Startup Guys, like PicSquare who attended @ BarCamp, to speak about their experience which is more valuable for wannabe entrepreneurs.

    I expect improvements in the next BarCamp.

  11. Mahesh, maybe you should have left the Startups room for a change. All that you lament the absence of was actually happening in parallel elsewhere in Barcamp.

    Second, this was not an IIM event. They only hosted it. This was your event. You had the opportunity to shape the event the way you wanted. You could still do it for the next Barcamp.

  12. It seems liked you targeted Non-Tech Collective specifically for some reason..

    For the record i stood thru two sessions at INternet collective.. This is something you learn at barcamp.. You want to attend the session, you sit by the side, on the ground or stand[IF YOU DONT GET A CHAIR].. People stood thru 2 hours of Liangs talk.. Its not right to say PEOPLE WERE UNCOMFORTABLE TO STAND…

  13. Dear VK
    If a presenter can’t respond to a situation that could probably mean … that could be several many reasons. Don’t make the statements so absolute friend.

    If sleeping people & such problems are the problems of un-conference then why unconference? Why not a conference? However, what you say seems to fit true in conference context not unconference.

    If nothing works, start a discussion … that is definitely a cool & valuable feedback; will definitely keep in mind for next time.

    I don’t know if you attended the talks by Mapunity & Vijay Anand second day, you should have realized that interest in investment and Market did enjoy huge attention.

    May be I’m not the correct person to evaluate the improvement since last Barcamp as I was absent, thus, all I have been able to relate is to Barcamp2, where you seem to be absent. I’m definitely not biased by presenter’s perspective but just wanted to caution other presenters about the situation, even if there’s a single one among the crowd.

    Dear Jayanth
    Man! Please do not get misdirected with the words, none was the target. I only intended to bring the awareness that too for the presenters (especially startup guys) about what to expect while planning their demo. And like Vivek Khurana pointed out, we as presenters have to learn about changing our style on-the-fly.

    And about uncomfortability, I noticed some foreigners getting really uncomfortable in L22 room and struggling to either get out of the room or to see the face od the presenter. May be it doesn’t stand good to be generalized but yes it was one of the observations.

    To All
    If I say X is good, there is high probability that many of you will term X as bad, and some may also term as X as good or neither good nor bad. It am sure goes relative to the observer, therefore, try to avoid any specific conflicts and try to find the essence of all the talk. I’d consider that as a constructive discussion rather than being argumentative over that I said this and you said that.

  14. Pingback: BCB 5 over BCB 4 - What can be better by Living Life

  15. About L22 Vs audi and the Prof vs actual start-up guys
    We started the start-up collective on day 1 at L22. It overflowed and we immediately moved to the audi and stopped the unband. That session was extended at the request of audience upto lunch. There were questions on VC and one of the VCs spoke a lot and we asked him to slot his own session. Due to the extension to Prof Kumar we were eating into the time for sloka, picsquare etc. So we initiated a parallel session at L22 where these guys did speak. We announced it in the audi and almost half the people moved to L22. I’m sorry that I didn’t get the message across to you.

    “At the end of the day the participants decide.” If a organiser responds with this comment, its the opportunity for a participant to show what participants want. All it takes is a show of hands!

    The most heartening sight for me at BCB4 was people discussing things in a self governed manner in corridors, lawns etc. Should have seen the gaming collective where everyone stood for the entire duration right outside the audi and each one just talked for 6 mins each! It reminded me that BarCamp is about the desire to discuss and learn from each other. It makes the constraints of infrastructure trivial and it did.

    We have taken notes ourselves and continue to do so through blogs and comments. We’ll surely improve the next time. The basic tradeoff is to meet expectations of as many as possible with limited infra and our limited legwork etc. We hope to hear from as many people as possible and make this into our conversation and our event. Thanks for this post and the comments. Would love to hear more.

  16. “We did present at Proto as well.” – Did you?

    And from what I could gather from the Investors collective at BCB4, it was about stock market and MF investments, not venture investments.

  17. Dear Vijay,
    We presented RouteGuru at Proto. I was the third limb who took quite a few many permissions throughout to be with my team :). This information should help.

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