Startup Lessons Learned At The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show

6752228397_a6c71e3d3a_z.jpg

By Joanne Lang (Founder & CEO, AboutOne) I spent the last week in Las Vegas, promoting the announcement of AboutOne’s latest release at the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

We chose to attend CES for our announcement because it’s the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow and attracts the “who’s who” of the technology industry. This conference provided us with myriad opportunities to connect with traditional and new media, potential partners, and prospective customers. As I wait for my red-eye flight home, I want to share my lessons learned about being an exhibitor at this amazing event.

Lesson 1 – Establish clear objectives for the event

We had two objectives for our time at CES: to connect with media and to identify and connect with potential partners. As careful stewards of our startup’s limited resources, being clear about these objectives allowed us to focus our efforts where they’d have maximum impact.

Lesson 2 – Look for Alternatives to the Standard Event Booth and Plan Ahead

Attending and exhibiting at conferences and trades shows is expensive, and CES is no exception. The type of CES exhibitor package we needed to meet our conference objectives was prohibitively expensive when reserving directly through CES, so we sought alternative solutions. We discovered Living in Digital Times (LIDT), a CEA partner program offering conferences and events that focus on the intersection of lifestyle and technology. LIDT sponsors several “tech zones” within CES, including the Digital Health Summit, Silvers Summit, Sports and Fitness Tech Summit, MommyTech Summit, Kids@Play Summit, and HigherEdTECH Summit, all at rates that compare very favorably with the standard CES rates.

We chose a small turnkey booth in the Cool Products for Moms exhibit in the MommyTech zone, a focused lifestyle exhibition and conference embedded within CES and focusing exclusively on the newest technology innovations and trends aimed at the $90 billion dollar mom market. Our package also included a presence at CES Unveiled (a pre-CES New York press preview in November), a “speed-dating” press event on the first day of CES, and invaluable support from the CES staff throughout the week to help send media representatives our way.

We also made arrangement for me to speak on the Moms as CEOs of the Household panel about empowering moms with technology that helps them juggle priorities, stay connected with their families, and balance work and life. This panel was well-attended by both press and potential partners who reached out to us afterwards to express their interest.

In addition to making arrangements for your exhibit space, it’s also important to book transportation and hotel reservations in advance. CES partners with a long list of Las Vegas hotels to offer special rates, but these discounted offers sell out fast.

Lesson 3 – Make Contact Before, During, and After the Event

We requested the CES press list from LIDT so we could send targeted emails before the conference to appropriate media outlets for our customer demographic. In addition, we used Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to connect with conference attendees before, during, and after the event.

Lesson 4 – Attend Panels and Keynotes

This is where we were able to pick up on the latest trends that impact our company’s direction. Of particular interest to us this year were Elisa Camahort Page’s presentation of BlogHer’s 2012 Consumer Electronics Study that identified all-in-one consumer electronic devices as most indispensable to women, and the overall focus on consumers’ desire for anytime, anywhere access to their digital information via PCs, smartphones, TVs, cars, and appliances that are smart and connected.

This post was originally posted at AboutOne's blog.

About the guest blogger: Joanne Lang is the Founder and CEO of AboutOne, an online organizer that not only replaces the file cabinets, notebooks, and various tools that families use to store household information, but also saves time by automatically organizing that information so it’s useful and readily available. She is a former software company executive specializing in cloud technology. Follow her on Twitter at @AboutOneCEO.