GroupOn founder Andrew Mason onstage at DEMO Fall 2010

Hi everyone, my name’s Luke Stangel and I’m a DEMO newbie.

When I worked as a technology writer, I knew about DEMO — the giant, annual tech conference organized by VentureBeat — but I never had a chance to attend. (DEMO was held in Palm Springs, and my editors were notoriously cheap). Instead, I was forced to attend DEMO the next best way: Watching the online videos the organizers posted from the show floor.

Needless to say, I was excited to go to DEMO Fall 2010, held last week at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I had high expectations, and DEMO didn’t disappoint. My boss, Donna Michaels, is old hand at this DEMO stuff. She’s been going every year for the past 16 years, scouting for a rare mix of talent: Smart entrepreneurs making disruptive technology in a provocative space. Most years, she finds one or two startups that fit the profile. At DEMO Fall, we found six: eM Client, FootFeed, Poynt, Profitably, SeePort and Loud3r.

Here’s a quick overview of what each company does:

  • eM Client makes an Outlook killer that’s already been adopted by more than 70,000 people. eM is designed to synchronize all your calendars (including Outlook, Google Calendar, iCal, Zimbra, Yahoo and more), your contacts (including Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.) and your instant messaging platforms, most notably Skype. Best of all, the software costs just $50.
  • FootFeed makes a check-in aggregator that pulls together your FourSquare, Gowalla, Facebook and Brightkite accounts and allows you to check-in with all of those accounts at the same time. While that’s cool, we’re particularly excited about FootFeed’s ability to aggregate all of the location-aware deals and promotions running on those networks. It’s an incredibly useful piece of consumer tech, and is currently available in the iPhone app store.
  • Profitably makes QuickBooks smarter. If you’ve got QuickBooks, you need Profitably. You share your company’s accounting records with Profitably, which crunches all the data, analyzes your company’s finances, and tells you where you’re doing well, and where you need to improve. At $50 a month, Profitably pays for itself immediately. Click here to watch a video of me explaining what Profitably does, just moments after watching their demo.
  • Poynt is a really cool location-aware advertising platform built by Multiplied Media, out of Canada. Small business owners set up special deals and set the radius for that deal. You can’t redeem the deal unless you’re within the radius. Very smart. We also really liked hanging out with Margaret, Michelle and Evie (who I coincidentally went to college with).
  • SeePort makes a consumer electronics videochatting gadget designed for normal families. You buy a pair of these things at the store and program them to talk to one another. You keep one and mail the other to a family member — say, your grandma on the East Coast, or your kids in Hawaii. These gadgets are always on, super easy to use and require zero technical knowledge. The product’s in beta, and will begin shipping next year.
  • …and last but certainly not least, Loud3r. Think of Loud3r like a blog in a box. You program in the topics you’re interested in, say, “vintage cars” and Loud3r instantly builds you a WordPress blog, with snippets of articles about vintage cars from elsewhere on the Internet, photos and videos of vintage cars and a stream of social media content related to vintage cars. What we liked best about Loud3r was the level of control bloggers had over their new site. Companies can blacklist certain keywords, either to avoid news about their competitors, or negative articles about their brand.

For me, it was great watching these companies demonstrate their products onstage, and meeting them afterward. Donna and I are already planning our next DEMO conference, which kicks off Feb. 27 in Palm Desert.