Even if we do say so ourselves, Matter Five’s Demo Day in San Francisco was a roaring success. After a week of intense rehearsals, our teams delivered confident and compelling pitches. Live demo after live demo went off without a hitch. People who attended testified that Matter has consistently raised the bar when it comes to the quality of startup pitching.
What a year of growth, @mattervc. Great job today, #demoday teams. Welcome @TribPub to our community. http://bit.ly/21PJDpH
Great to see such a diverse group of strong founders on stage changing media for good. @mattervc is a leader in the industry. #matterdemoday
As ever, I leave very impressed by a @mattervc #matterdemoday. High level on crafting the products and their stories.
We are proud beyond words, but there’s little time to bask in the (reflected) glory, because we’re off to New York. A mad dash from coast-to-coast that’s become something of an institution. So why do we bundle our startups on to a plane and send them to the Big Apple?
In 2013, two weeks before Demo Day SF, inspiration hit Matter’s Managing Partner Corey Ford: he wanted to take the Matter entrepreneurs to the East Coast to pitch their ideas to a fresh assortment of investors, mentors, media executives and startup CEOs. “I floated the idea,” he says, “where people could work out of our space for two months. At the end of the summer we’d have a Demo Day in New York to cap it all off.” He threw together a “prototype in motion” and Matter Demo Day New York was born. This time around we’re holding it just two days after Demo Day SF rather than two months later, but our reason for having a presence in both cities remains the same.
When Corey founded Matter in Silicon Valley three years ago, he firmly believed nowhere else would do. People come to the Valley from all over the world on a mission to disrupt existing institutions and build the institutions of the future. Every mistake is a learning experience. Failure is a rite of passage. That culture of irreverence and of “failing forward” is one Corey wanted Matter to exemplify.
At the same time, he knew it was New York City, rather than San Francisco, that was the beating heart of the global media industry, home to many of the venerated media organizations Matter companies often seek to serve.
Matter hosts a mix of startups, some B2C, putting the new in new media for end users, and some B2B, offering products and services to traditional media outlets. That’s why, Corey says, it’s really important to get Matter startups in front of diverse audiences on both coasts — it increases their chances of meeting the right investors and customers: “The B2C platform companies tend to do really well in San Francisco, whereas it’s the B2B media companies that get the audience in New York really excited.”
New York-based media executives have given Demo Day NYC a warm welcome. Jim Kennedy, SVP of Strategy and Enterprise Development at The Associated Press, praises the fresh perspective Matter’s events have brought: “The Demo Days in New York have given media companies in the city a test of the Matter brand of media development, which is hands-on, focused, distinctive in its approach and impressive in its results.”
In years past, Matter teams have spent a week in New York touring the offices of big media names such as Quartz, The New York Times, The AP and Vogue. The entrepreneurs have given elevator pitches, met with the companies’ leaders and held follow-up meetings with investors.
Due to the density of its media outlets, New York has been a popular destination for many Matter alumni after graduation. Stringr recently relocated to the Big Apple. Co-founder Lindsay Stewart says of the move, “People here are major publishers and broadcasters and know what media companies need. And the same network effects apply here for media that they do for technology in Silicon Valley. So having the Matter portfolio present in front of media executives on Demo Day — is just as important, maybe more so, than Demo Day in San Francisco.”
Corey wants Matter to further deepen its ties to the city to help our entrepreneurs access its ecosystem. He believes our culture — cultivated in the world’s entrepreneurship hub — is different from the East Coast’s and can “add a lot of value” to its media landscape. Jim Kennedy agrees. He says twin hubs would add “rocket fuel” to Matter’s accelerator program and that Matter is uniquely placed to “help bridge the gap between the startup communities on either coast.”
We have ambitions to open a sister office in New York City by the end of 2016. We’ve started that process by building our team, which has now gone from 2 to 5. Next we’re laying the foundations for the right media partnerships so that we can create the kind of unique ecosystem we’ve cultivated in San Francisco, in New York. Ultimately we’re going slow to go fast because the most important thing that needs to expand across the country is our culture of experimentation.
“It’s about making one plus one greater than two,” says Corey. “If you have Matter within a stone’s throw of the world’s top media companies and establish relationships then you truly have opportunities for human-centric, prototype-driven design.”
He likens the idea of our expansion to a Stanford program called Bio Design, where Stanford Hospital is opened up to entrepreneurial teams. They have a free rein to wander round, observe and find problems to solve. He’d love to see traditional New York-based media firms with a hunger for change opening their doors to Matter innovators.