Showcasing your Demo/Prototype

Depending on the stage of the startup, expectations of a demo/prototype section of a deck need to be adjusted accordingly. Very early stage startups may just have a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) from which to begin testing, there may be a basic platform in place or there may be a working product that is already generating revenue.

A lot of this will depend on how much time and money has already been injected into the business. Obviously the more time and money, the higher an investor’s expectations will be.

The purpose of the demo is to show what has already been built. Not what could be built in the future or what the founders would really like to build if only they had a software developer. Most investors recognise that early versions of a product are likely to change significantly but what’s presented here should still match up with the problem and solution already laid out by the team.

What should be included in the demo:

  • product walkthrough which showcases user experience (for both sides of the market if a platform)
  • explanation of features
  • explanation of how different customer types might use certain features

Depending on whether the founder and investor are sitting face to face or whether the investor is viewing the pitchdeck on their own will also lend itself to different ideal ways of presenting a demo.

Live Demo

Risky, especially in a demo day or pitch competition situation but when sitting face to face with an investor, it has the benefit of being completely interactive and tailored to the curiosity of the investor. It’s great for investors to see the product actually working in real time… as long as it does work.

Link to register

If the site is already live, founders should encourage investors to sign up and have a play around and investors should absolutely be doing this to get a good feel for the usability of the product. Founders should not rely on investors doing this though and should also provide a visual walkthrough within the deck.

Video demo

Screencasting a product walkthrough is a less risky way for founders to showcase their product and allows them complete control over the features it explores and the bugs it glosses over. As long as the video is offline, it won’t crash halfway through or encounter any errors in the same way a live demo could. Investors should be aware of this though and should make sure to get access to the real product at some point in a later meeting.

Screenshots

This can be OK, especially for a very simple product that doesn’t require a huge amount of technical innovation. It is still able to convey the look and feel of the product, but it should always be followed up with an active demo at some point.


Ideally, the Demo/Prototype section of a deck will be simple, beautiful and sensible… and above all, not confusing to investors! It should answer the following initial questions:

  • Does it work?
  • What does it look like?
  • Does it solve the problem in an elegant way?

The initial Demo should take just a few minutes to answer these questions.