Friday Demo Days

I spent a few days in Toronto last week and was fortunate enough to participate in "Friday Demo Days" with one of the companies I visited. Here's how it works:

The entire team (16 people in this case) sits around a big table for beers and snacks on Friday afternoon. They begin by playing a fun mind game where everyone opens a browser to the same Wikipedia page (in this case David Carson, Graphic Designer). Someone calls out a random term unrelated in any way to the topic of the page (in this case, I called out Sweater). On the countdown, everyone navigates through internal Wikipedia links and the first person to get from A to B wins. In case you're curious, the winner's route in record time by a sales candidate visiting the company: David Carson > Surfer > Surfboard > Polyester > Textile > Clothing > Sweater. Nobody else was remotely near finished. Let's see if he gets the job.

After the game, they fire up a projector on AppleTV and everyone in the company takes turns connecting to AirPlay and presenting what they've accomplished in the past 14 days. They go around the room randomly from sales to engineering to product to customer success, etc showing a visual and explaining what they've done. After each 2 mins presentation, everyone cheers and claps and the person speaking chooses the next presenter. They ended with the CEO summarizing it all and prepping the team for the next week.

We all know how important it is to foster healthy and collaborative culture in the early days of a startup. I've been involved with and seen dozens of startups up close, but this was one of the best weekly team meeting formats and overall work cultures I have experienced. The meeting format instills a spirit of fun, collaboration and transparency, which is rare and wonderful, but also supportive accountability - nobody wants to be the guy who loafed and has nothing to present. I suspect these Friday Demo Days are closely correlated with the success this company has enjoyed in its early days.

By Josh Guttman

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