How we built Asia’s largest Demo Day - in Japan

Mar 22 · 6 min read

We achieved several firsts on March 18 — and it was awesome on three dimensions. Let me briefly review.

28 startups:

#Z04 Hong Kong — From Left to Right: Bestshot, DeepTrace, GrayChain, Strint, Dapp and EasyChat. PC @jonjonjapon
#Z04 Bengaluru — From Left to Right: Vizzbee Robotics, Kvinna Life, Unreal AI, DeepSight and Deepsync. PC @jonjonjapon
Zeroth Alumni — From Left to Right: Laboratik, Scry, DT42, FRM, SpoonShot, OliveX, Utu, SmartPeep. PC @jonjonjapon

28 tweets on each:





Deepsight Labs:



DT42 with Numbers Protocol:



Generalized Intelligence:




Matar stars:











We hosted over 600 registered attendees with 28 startups demoing and over 40K people followed the event on social media. This level of scale in terms of startups has never been done before on this side of the planet. What this means that throughout the day, our startups received constant exposure from potential investors and partners.

We had Nikkei cover us in the press. This is absolutely spectacular as a startup and just to give some reference: the Nikkei is the world’s largest financial newspaper, with greater circulation than the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal combined (the next two most circulated papers).

We had Japanese investors come up to us and say we’ve never heard this type of pitch quality and startups ever in Japan. That made us proud.

Even more tangibly, this is what we did for our new LP Japanese public company Silver Egg’s share price — a whopping 25% increase right after CEO Tom Foley’s announcement at the event:

How did we do this?

Practice makes perfect

The previous two Demo Days in Hong Kong and Bengaluru helped in coordinating the startup pitches and internal operations together. We had feedback for the pitches and what worked and didn’t, and the same goes for the operational part. That feedback was critical for the final stretch.

Actively shape people’s perceptions

Our venue was definitely not traditional by normal standards. But our Japanese partners made the decision to try to shape people’s perceptions by doing things differently and in a different place. I think it was the right decision as it sets the bar to think differently and push the scope — but not in an extreme way.

Execute the ambition to scale

During my Japanese speech, I shared my personal story of pitching to Masayoshi Son, and the response to not settle on 10x, but to go 100x. So when we had this insane idea to scale our demo days, we never imagined the effects — but we rose to the challenge and it has changed us positively.

Unleash a vision

We believe that our vision of building an ecosystem in Asia is the future. We set our strategy from day one to build upon that thesis, and the Tokyo demo day was a clear manifestation of that strategy. Our choices of Bengaluru, Tokyo, and Hong Kong as locations are the cornerstones of how that strategy is to be built. We unleashed our vision of how we see the world, and the public responded enthusiastically.

Of the entire Demo Day Series, we hosted 1350 attendees and 55 startup demos. Again, that type of scale is unprecedented in this part of the world.

This was supreme coordination from the entire team — and the product reflected a little bit of everyone. We developed a product that combined each individual team member’s strength in design, social media, operations, hustle, intellectual debate, and local knowledge. This was truly a team of misfits coming together for one goal.

And that goal is to our Zeroth startups. You are the lifeblood of what we do and why we do what we do. In particular, thanks Jason Eisen from Utu for being a part-time volunteer.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the volunteers. Cali Matsunaga, Emily Clearwater, John Matthews, Kanna Sato, Liana Huang, Lisa Hasegawa, Lisa Renee Williams, Mai Otsuka, Melvin Charles Dy, Miho Tanaka, Tomoya Ishizaki, and Vinod Vijay. This event would not have run as smoothly without you, and I hope we work with you soon in the future. Shin Chen, Gen Kenai, and Tatsuya Nagata also made huge contributions from their day jobs to support us.

Next - our speakers, many of whom came from out of town. Thank you Katsumasa Niki from Deepcore, Ken Inoue from all Turtles, Mikihiro Yasuda from Hike Ventures, Takashi Hongo from Fringe Ventures, Jung-hee Ryu from Future Play, Yoshitake Ishimoto from DBJ, and Junichi Nakajima from Digital Garage.

Next, a thank you to our investors and partners for your contribution. They are, in alphabetical order, Amazon Web Services, AngelHub, our main investor Animoca Brands, Artesian, Blink Smart Workspace, Cowrks, Cyberport, Deepcore, Digital Ocean, Google Cloud, HK Uptown, IBM Blue Hub, Kernel, Microsoft Explorium, Sendgrid, Stripe, Teamz, Tencent WeStart, and Whub.

Last and most significantly, our wives and partners for tolerating and supporting us. We all know who the real leaders are here.

We’d love to hear from you if you’re an ambitious team solving problems. Ping us below!


Written by


Tak Lo. Investor of the future.

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