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Why CES Is a Bad Scene For Startups

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the slow-start dept.

Businesses 89

Nerval's Lobster writes "If you're a small-to-midsize tech company, CES isn't exactly the best place to get noticed. Every January, thousands of developers and startup executives flood Vegas with dreams of a big score. But they're not headed to the poker and blackjack tables in pursuit of that filthy lucre—instead, many of them have dropped thousands of dollars on a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), arguably the highest-profile technology conference of the year. (In addition to the tens of thousands of dollars it costs to reserve a space on the convention-hall floor, that money goes to demo units, flying employees to Vegas, and much, much more.) If they haven't managed to secure a spot in one of the Convention Center's massive halls, they've set up a demonstration area in a suite at some hotel on the Strip. And if they're too under-capitalized or unprepared for a hotel, they're lurking in the Convention Center parking lot. Seriously. It's a little insane. But in a certain way, you can't blame the startups: at some point, someone told them that CES is the best way to get their company noticed, even if it means blowing the equivalent of three employees' yearly salaries. On paper, the get-a-booth strategy makes sense—aside from SXSW, CES hosts possibly the greatest concentration of tech journalists in a relatively small space. What many first-timers don't realize (until it's too late) is that startups have a hard time standing out amidst the chaos: there are too many companies at too many booths attempting to sell (at top volume) too many variations of the same core ideas. If that wasn't bad enough, a fair portion of those companies are trying to draw attention with flashing screens, giveaways, music pumping at top volume, and other gimmicks. (Hey, it's Vegas.) So not only does your Nike FuelBand knockoff need to compete against a hundred other 'smart bracelets' on display, but you somehow need to make yourself visible despite the plus-size Elvis impersonator belting out 'Don't Be Cruel' in front of that chip-vendor's booth a few steps away. That's just the sort of quixotic endeavor that would drive even the most stalwart startup founder to drinking before 9 A.M."

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Startups should not be at CES, or CeBIT (0)

vikingpower (768921) | about 9 months ago | (#45881743)

They should put their money into their product, which by definition is heavily under development and **needs** money. They should put it into hiring just the right rock star developer. There, nuff said.

Re:Startups should not be at CES, or CeBIT (1)

ranulf (182665) | about 9 months ago | (#45881867)

That's a bit of a jump, there's no reason to suspect that startup companies turning up to CES aren't quite far along in development. Otherwise they'd not exactly have anything to show.

But yeah, it's pretty obvious to anybody that a massive trade show isn't the best way to get exposure. Getting key evangelists on board with your concept will get you far more exposure in the long run and for a lot less money than a booth at a trade show.

Every company I've ever worked at that's done the trade fair thing has done so simply because they're already high up in their game and they have to go to maintain their image, otherwise everyone just assumes they're not doing as well any more if they don't show or have a small booth. But it's not really about publicity - I know when I've been to the show myself, there's basically loads of people wandering aroudn just trying to get as much free stuff as they can. Possibly only 1% of people you turn up to your booth actually wants to know about your product and most of them won't actually generate any business.

MOD parent UP. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 9 months ago | (#45882363)

These are VERY important ideas about trade shows from the end of the comment above:

"... there's basically loads of people wandering around just trying to get as much free stuff as they can. Possibly only 1% of the people who visit a booth actually want to know about the product, and most of them won't actually generate any business." [Edited for clarity.]

We need better trade shows. We need trade shows that don't allow companies to give away free things, and don't allow other distractions. And no "dry hustle" booth babes; they are, basically, prostitutes.

Re:MOD parent UP. (2)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 9 months ago | (#45883331)

And no "dry hustle" booth babes; they are, basically, prostitutes.

What kind of rule could you possibly make to get rid of these metaphorical prostitutes?

1. No hot girls at booths?

2. Only allow smart/talented people at booths?

3. No slutty outfits?

These are all pretty subjective judgements. I am not saying it can't be done. I just have no idea how.

I think the booth babes will disappear when they are no longer profitable and when this fact is clear to the companies that currently hire them.

Given that CES happens in Vegas at almost the same time as the pron trade show, and that there is a lot of overlap between pron and electronics, a lot of the same people attend both shows. I can imagine this skewing CES to be more erotic and AEE to be more technology oriented.

I've never been to either CES or AEE. I have been to E3 once back when they still had booth babes. I found it to be pretty dumb, but a lot of the people there seemed to be really into it. I guess that's changed since I went.

Every person must be technically knowledgeable. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 9 months ago | (#45883751)

"What kind of rule could you possibly make to get rid of these metaphorical prostitutes?"

Just say that every person must be technically knowledgeable about the company's products. Have each company rated by everyone who goes to the show.

The show managers have strong reasons to demand the availability of real help and understanding. Otherwise a show can get a poor reputation.

Re:Every person must be technically knowledgeable. (1)

CapOblivious2010 (1731402) | about 9 months ago | (#45884207)

Have each company rated by everyone who goes to the show.

Seriously? Most people won't even bother to fill out your surveys, and the few that do will probably "grade on the curve(s)" and give the hottest women the benefit of the doubt, at the expense of the those who are "plainly" more knowledgeable. You'd probably get lots of technical people voted out and even more bimbos voted in.

Re:Every person must be technically knowledgeable. (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about 9 months ago | (#45884969)

You'd probably get lots of technical people voted out and even more bimbos voted in.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Trade shows need major improvement. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 9 months ago | (#45886073)

Most people won't even bother to fill out your surveys...

Trade shows need major improvement. People don't take them seriously. They are, mostly, a waste of time and money.

Re:MOD parent UP. (2, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 9 months ago | (#45884065)

I think the booth babes will disappear when they are no longer profitable and when this fact is clear to the companies that currently hire them.

You thought wrong. Both women and men like looking at women's hips and breasts. Youth and beauty are signals for fertility. Advertising leverages this innate human response to associate products with desirability. When you've undone millions of years of instinctual evolution and sexual selection pressure, there won't be any "booth babes", because there won't be any damn booths.

Re:MOD parent UP. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 9 months ago | (#45885661)

How about anyone on your booth must have been employed by your company in a product-development role for at least a year before attending? That would filter out both the eye-candy-but-no-knowledge and most of the sales people, so the people wandering around would actually get to talk to people who knew stuff.

YES. Talk to people who know the products. (0)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 9 months ago | (#45886089)

Good idea. MOD parent UP.

Re:MOD parent UP. (1)

nmr_andrew (1997772) | about 8 months ago | (#45890129)

It would probably lead to a better trade show, but I suspect that if you ban sales people, many companies, especially larger ones, will pull their sponsorship of the show.

Re:MOD parent UP. (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 8 months ago | (#45890585)

I thought of something like this too, but how do you prevent big companies from hiring 1 super attractive person to their product development team whose title indicates some kind of technical knowledge but in reality all she does is visual PR? I don't think this would be a high enough cost to big companies to prevent companies from doing it. There is no shortage of beautiful young girls willing to take a medium paying job where the only thing they need to do is look pretty in front of people.

What if she wears a really slutty outfit to conventions? Are we really going to start mandating dress codes at conventions? Have you ever tried creating a dress code for women to try to force them to look professional? I think the best you could probably do is either a person who kicks out people who are deemd to be obvious booth babes by a "you know it when you see it" metric. Or you have someone kicking people out based on some objective standard that will let in a lot of booth babes in and remove a lot of legitimate women on technicalities.

Re:MOD parent UP. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 months ago | (#45895825)

Depends. If you manage to create the expectation that people in the booth should be knowledgeable about the products, then a booth with attractive but ignorant people will backfire - your company will look like it's full of clueless bimbos when everyone else is able to answer technical questions intelligently. That said, most companies of the size that typically attend these trade shows almost certainly employ at least a few attractive engineers of both genders and so could quite easily put them on the booth. I don't think anyone would object to that though. The problem is not attractive people on the booths, it's people who don't know anything on the booths, who are just there as decoration. Trade shows should be about comparing products and technical competence, not seeing who can hire the best prostitutes or give away the best shiny toys.

Re:Startups should not be at CES, or CeBIT (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 9 months ago | (#45882873)

But it's not really about publicity - I know when I've been to the show myself, there's basically loads of people wandering aroudn just trying to get as much free stuff as they can. Possibly only 1% of people you turn up to your booth actually wants to know about your product and most of them won't actually generate any business.

The reason why? Easy - if I want to know about your product, I'll go Google it, see if your company/product turns up, then maybe call you up if I want/need more information about it.

Trade shows are a vestige of the pre-Internet age. They formed at a time when getting info on new and upcoming tech was actual work, or involved slogging through phonebook-thick magazines containing up to 80% ads, 15% fluff, and 5% actual useful information.

Back in the day, you went to COMDEX, NetWorld, and all those shows because that was the only way you were going to learn jack about the products. You also got something the trade pubs and (at the time) embryonic web could not provide you at the time: a working demo of the damned thing. Even on a non-generic level, you didn't go to Novell's Brainshare to take in the party atmosphere of Salt Lake City in Winter - you went so you could learn something, and to test out the new bits before you committed a purchase order to it.

COMDEX and NetWorld died a long time ago. CES is IMHO an anomaly - a holdover from that era.

Some hybrid trade shows cropped up (see also VMWorld), but the trade-show aspect is secondary to the goal of testing/teaching/advertising by the primary sponsor (VMWorld also had a neat trick of allowing selected customers to speak directly with various developer teams, so that you could suggest features, bitch about stuff that didn't work so hot, and show off tricks and tips you learned independently of them. In return, they got feedback on potential products they were building in pre-Alpha stage.)

Re:Startups should not be at CES, or CeBIT (1)

Wintermute__ (22920) | about 9 months ago | (#45883191)

100% agreed. Excellent points.

I think the anomaly that allows CES to continue is that it is for the journalists, not for us.

Re:Startups should not be at CES, or CeBIT (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 9 months ago | (#45884277)

The reason why? Easy - if I want to know about your product, I'll go Google it,

And how are you going to Google for "the latest, greatest, newest product that I don't know about yet"? Google is great to get more information about stuff you heard about already. These fairs are meant to find stuff you don't know about yet.

Re:Startups should not be at CES, or CeBIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45884595)

And how are you going to Google for "the latest, greatest, newest product that I don't know about yet"?

You think you have a better chance of finding something cool by accident at CES?. The point is that CES is worse that Google -- fewer results, a ton more distractions and it sucks money and productivity out of potentially worthwhile companies.

Re:Startups should not be at CES, or CeBIT (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 8 months ago | (#45888109)

That's the thing - when it comes to the motivation for looking, you usually have a problem and are looking for a solution to it (hence Google), or have come up with (or in reality get stuck with) a project, and you're looking for means to help complete it, so you go looking, and...

The 'gee whiz that's new!' stuff usually comes to you courtesy of whatever new sites you frequent, and again, if something blows your dress up, you can search online for more info.

Re:Startups should not be at CES, or CeBIT (1)

Bo'Bob'O (95398) | about 9 months ago | (#45885117)

If you are looking at a physical product I find it's MUCH easier to gauge both the product and the company by seeing the object, even if just a prototype, in person. Can it still be junk or vaporware if they have a booth and demo? Of course, even from major companies sometimes. But it's still vastly more information talking to a person, getting a card, and looking at the physical item then some random spec-sheet from a company you've never heard of.

Also sometimes searching through a stack of papers for that random product you remember glancing at 3 years ago rather then trying to search through browser bookmarks works a lot better, for me at least.

What i don't need though is a huge stack of paper spec sheets for every single product and iteration, that I can get online, thank you.

Re:Startups should not be at CES, or CeBIT (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 8 months ago | (#45888227)

For physical objects, I agree that hands-on is best.

On the other hand, if you're doing this professionally, it's trivial to have the potential vendor drop off a demo unit that you can test on-site (or if it's a big item, arrange a trip to go see it in action on someone else's site.)

Case in point? A few years back, I wanted something that worked well with VDI on a production floor, but didn't require the expense and upkeep of even a thin-client. We wanted something cheap that you could use and toss into the trash w/o worry when it breaks, because the production floor was sometimes a dirty, merciless place. Literally a couple hours of searching later, I found these little guys [panologic.com] , which were cheaper per-unit than the typical thin-client. I called the company, had a quick conference call, and they happily sent out four of them for me to play with, as did a few other potential vendors with their low-end thin clients. The little units worked perfectly for the task during trials, so we wound up buying a few hundred more. They were on-hand to walk me through what was needed to get them hooked up, integrated and running.

The point is this: I didn't need to spend a week on-the-road while trying to keep up with workload and family demands, nor did I have to try and have a serious conversation about some product in a noisy hall full of literal bells and whistles going off.

Don't get me wrong - once in awhile a junket is a beautiful thing. If I prepared for it in advance, the workload was (usually) light while I was out, and I took the missus along so that she could have some fun while I'm sniffing around the booths and learning about new stuff.

I will admit one thing that the shows had, which I do not find a parallel for nowadays: The chance to talk to peers outside of the local network/bubble.

Re:Startups should not be at CES, or CeBIT (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 9 months ago | (#45881955)

No, if you want to stand out at CES, just use some buzzterms like "3-D printed," "green," "wearable," etc. for your products (whether they apply or not). By the time anyone notices that your tech doesn't actually use any of that stuff, you'll already be the darling of the show.

Amazing... (1)

mha (1305) | about 9 months ago | (#45882007)

...how you can make such judgment calls for companies you don't even know the name of, all you know is "startup". I'd like to have that crystal ball of yours. Personally, because I don't have such insights, I'm left to trusting that people closer to the action, actually working for those businesses know what they are doing - at least better than me who doesn't even know which business we are talking about.

Re:Amazing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882139)

...how you can make such judgment calls for companies you don't even know the name of, all you know is "startup".

By definition.

Long form: The "startup" mentality is one of absurd hours of unpayed overtime developing something that one investor/founder thinks will be the NEXT BIG THING!(TM) Whatever silly app (because the founder is too hip to say "application", "program", "software", or any other real word) is in perpetual development will be advertised by the founder as the solution to all problems, while at as many "free as in free martinis" events as humanly possible. The product rarely ever actually achieves anything, the employees end up with a sub-minimum-wage (when you do the math) job and "stock options" for a company that will never actually go public because the founder will abandon it and move on with his life once he gets 7 years experience as CEO of a multinational (they hired a Canadian and let him telecommute) company.

Um... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45881755)

And why should anyone care about "Nerval's Lobster"'s opinion? What makes him an authority on the subject?

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882053)

Because he's actually Nick Kolakowski, a Slashdot editor (really!), formerly a content-filler for eWeek, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, Playboy, WebMD, Carrier Pigeon, The Evergreen Review, AutoWeek, and Trader Monthly. He is also the author of “How to Become an Intellectual” (Adams Media, 2012), a book of comedic nonfiction.

If that doesn't look like the resume of an expert in small-business technology marketing, I don't know what does.

They're milking the slashdot name! They're trying to turn it into sub-brands of Slashdot Cloud, Slashdot BI, Slashdot Data Center, Slashdot Buzzword. They've targeted a market of mid-level decision makers in small to medium sized businesses, and are pumping out Info-week esq crap with the Slashdot name slapped on in a lame attempt to lend their pablum some credibility. To hell with Dice!

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882077)

If that doesn't look like the resume of an expert in small-business technology marketing, I don't know what does.

I lol'd!

Re:Um... (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about 9 months ago | (#45883701)

I'd seriously wonder about anyone that went to a Slashdot editor for advice. (That is, unless it was on how to keep a news/discussion site within the tiny overlap between "could thrive if we made an effort" and "try harder or it's going under." Their talent for it will probably be harnessed someday to provide the AIneeded to produce drinks that are almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.)

Re:Um... (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 9 months ago | (#45883343)

Why would we care about what you say about what he says? What makes you an authority on the subject of what makes people authorities on subjects?

Tradeshows are bad period (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45881799)

They just give the marketing people some justification for not ending their lives.

Re:Tradeshows are bad period (1)

alphatel (1450715) | about 9 months ago | (#45881815)

They just give the marketing people some justification for not ending their lives.

Anytime you need hot pumping lights and dance music to get 'journalists' interested in tech, you've already proved that CES is a waste.

Re:Tradeshows are bad period (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 9 months ago | (#45881887)

Why do people pay for booths at trade shows?

Because sometimes they actually work. They attract customers and investors. They put you in front of people who might not otherwise see you.

They aren't trying to sell to you personally, Mr. alphatel. They are trying to sell to 1% of the people who will walk past their booth. Or maybe they are going after the 0.01% of people walking past their booth who are looking to invest.

Advertising doesn't have to be on target to 100% of the people out there. It just has to get enough of the message to enough of the right people, at the right time. Trade shows put two out of three of those within the grasp of anyone who can afford to present at one.

Re:Tradeshows are bad period (2, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about 9 months ago | (#45881995)

Right, and it's a demonstration of how poisonous innovative culture in the US is. Everything is about being noticed and spectacle, not about useful ideas, even when targeting so-called experts. Marketing permeates American culture and destroys everyone that doesn't buy into the catastrophic tragedy of the commons it creates.

Re:Tradeshows are bad period (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 9 months ago | (#45884295)

Now how useful is your great idea, if no-one knows about it?

Or, vice versa... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45886973)

Why bother making a quality product when aggressive marketing will bury the bad reviews until you're already rolling in cash?

Re:Tradeshows are bad period (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 8 months ago | (#45886681)

There are an infinite number of useful ideas, almost none of them end up as for-sale products or services. It all comes down to the ability to deliver something people want to trade for, which is far less common than simply having a useful idea.. Think of it like the peacock's tail: a simple demonstration that the bearer is strong enough to be worth considering.

Re:Tradeshows are bad period (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882005)

Having done the tradeshow thing and given up the tradeshow thing and done the tradeshow thing again, I can say that I've never had a single sale at a tradeshow. Plenty of people come by to chat, gawk, etc but not one will whip out their credit card right there and then. They might come back a few weeks later, but our marketing people have said there's no noticable spike after a tradeshow in terms of sales.

The one year we decided not to go, though, our existing customers contacted us to see if everything's going alright since they missed us at the tradeshow...

Re:Tradeshows are bad period (1)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#45882141)

you're supposed to sell to best buy and other retailers at these shows
not to end customers

Re:Tradeshows are bad period (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 9 months ago | (#45882653)

I can say that I've never had a single sale at a tradeshow

Our company has never closed a sale at a show, but we've certainly come back from many shows with leads that translate into business. I staffed a show last year that resulted in one $60K sale alone... Assuming our cost to attend was $20K, that's $40K that wouldn't have been in our pocket otherwise - And that's just one example of many.

Re:Tradeshows are bad period (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882431)

Sometimes it doesn't even have to be a trade show.

Back in the day the university I worked for put on a (face to face) conference to discuss online computer-mediated conferencing (this was pre-web), and also to highlight the in-house developed conferencing system. Byte Magazine sent a couple of journalists -- but at the time Byte was also working on setting up its own computer-mediated conferencing system, and weren't happy with the software they had. They loved our stuff, and ended up licensing it for BIX. As did others. The rest, as they say, is (ancient, now) history.

Re:Tradeshows are bad period (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45883257)

Having done trade shows for 15 years I can tell you they are purely bullshit, a scam and don't worry to collect any noticeable investors and/or revenue sources. Meaning, new customers.

And for young companies with exciting tech, its the perfect place for a rip off.

Re:Tradeshows are bad period (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 9 months ago | (#45882311)

They're good for the big guys - Microsoft, Google, Apple, et al. For smaller companies, I don't see the point - people usually aren't there to see them.

That's why they should have a startup section (5, Insightful)

mveloso (325617) | about 9 months ago | (#45881827)

Back in the day Macworld used to have a small company area ("ghetto") so the public and press could easily find them. Was it in the south convention center?

They should do the same thing for any of the big tech trade shows.

Sometimes startups have to go, because one of their investors forced them to. When they money man insists, you go. The above idea should make it a bit more practical...though a targeted show is probably a much better use of your startup's money.

Re:That's why they should have a startup section (1)

drfishy (634081) | about 9 months ago | (#45881857)

It's called Eureka Village.

They do, kind of (5, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#45882027)

CES has a "New and innovative Technology" section (not the actual name I think), in the Venetian (the main show is in the convention center). It's where a lot of smaller and more interesting companies hang out.

CES has done what they can to separate smaller companies with new stuff from the establishes behemoths of the show that have blocks of display space. The real question is, what value can a company gain even if they are noticeable there? For the money you spend going to CES you could reach so many more people in other ways I think, virtual and physical...

Re:They do, kind of (2)

westlake (615356) | about 9 months ago | (#45882389)

For the money you spend going to CES you could reach so many more people in other ways I think

Reaching more people is easy.

Reaching the right people in the right places is hard.

Re:They do, kind of (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#45882683)

Percentage wise though, a wider net hits a higher absolute number of the "right people". And certainly a more diverse set of people than the people that attend CES. In fact I almost wonder if you couldn't blame the absolute wasteland of gadget quality or usefulness to CES itself creating a horribly effective echo chamber in which the same ideas just bounce back and forth in a very insular community. I've been attending CES for years and it's literally the last place on earth I would go to launch a product or get feedback from real consumers. I would instead drive to the middle of Iowa and pay for a beer fest for an entire small town, then get feedback from them about your product after they had knocked back a few. You want feedback?

You probably can't handle REAL feedback...

Re:They do, kind of (2)

vux984 (928602) | about 9 months ago | (#45882777)

I would instead drive to the middle of Iowa and pay for a beer fest for an entire small town, then get feedback from them about your product after they had knocked back a few. You want feedback?

I think that tends to backfire too... show up and throw people a party and give them a product and you'll get lots of glowing reviews based on them being happy for a party and free stuff. As long as the product doesn't actually injure them you'll get limited useful feedback.

Getting good feedback is just plain hard. The film and music industry has professional critics at least... but even they aren't a great barometer on what the public at large will like.

P.S. You is not YOU (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#45882709)

By "You can't handle REAL feedback" I meant the :"royal you", as in every company ever, not just you personally.

Re:They do, kind of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45885585)

Ooh, baby, yes, there, there, THERE, YES, YES YES

cheaper to pay robert scoble (0)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#45881877)

or one of the other dozen gurus to tweet or post you gizmo to google plus or wherever. or call their "journalist" buddies to have them write an article on their website or blog

What cost Failure (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#45882043)

Judging from what Scoble has done for (or to) Glass, why would you pay for that exactly?

Scoble should start a racket where you have to pay him monthly not to publish pictures of him and your product in an illicit shower encounter.

Re:What cost Failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882279)

I'd pay him to trash Glass and "Nike FuelBand knockoffs" all the live long day if they were crap... Nothing wrong with that. Just because you're a startup doesn't mean you deserve to be; is this youth rec-league soccer where everyone gets a trophy?

Vegas may not be a good place to get noticed (4, Funny)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 9 months ago | (#45881917)

But it sure is a great place to get laid. And since men go into business to make money so that they can get laid I think disintermediating the process and jumping right to the 'get laid' part is a better business decision.

Re:Vegas may not be a good place to get noticed (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about 9 months ago | (#45882041)

You seem to almost and actually have a point here.... But but but how will this developer I know convince his startup founder ( incidentally also his boss ) to send him to CES so he can get laid ? Simply by quoting JoeyRox' quip on /. ?

Re:Vegas may not be a good place to get noticed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882049)

But who are the real whores here? Is it the young ladies who will let you have access to their source code for $300? Or the guy standing in the parking lot pushing the internet of jockstraps.....

captcha: sadistic

Re:Vegas may not be a good place to get noticed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45884157)

But who are the real whores here? Is it the young ladies who will let you have access to their source code for $300? Or the guy standing in the parking lot pushing the internet of jockstraps.....

Whatever you do, do not insinuate the real whores are the women who value mates having high social rank and capability to provide for her and hers.

You think men make more money than they need to live comfortably, and have shorter lives, just for themselves? You think peacocks want to have big expensive plumage that makes them easier targets to predators, or do you think it's there because the peahens refuse to screw any cock without it?

Re:Vegas may not be a good place to get noticed (1)

antdude (79039) | about 8 months ago | (#45887249)

Does that work for nerds and geeks like at Defcon? :P

Nothing New (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45881997)

So, what you're saying is it's exactly like every single major tradeshow for every single industry in existence. The competition for the eyes and minds of tradeshow attendees is a challenge no matter what the industry and no matter what the venue. Welcome to business. Deal with it.

SXSW sucks (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 9 months ago | (#45882021)

It's the same "Makerspace" or "Maker Faire" mentality. Put enough geeks in a room and magical things happen because technology.

Re:SXSW sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882599)

Hey, Foursquare came out of South-by so it's not totally useless for a startup.

Re:SXSW sucks (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 8 months ago | (#45901053)

I think you have a strange definition of "not totally useless".

In general terms (3, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | about 9 months ago | (#45882055)

We live in a world of constant information flow. Betting anything on one big discrete burst of information is an anachronism. Trade shows are just one example. The other one that always leaps to mind is quarterly releases of financial information such as employment or sales for corporations. Sales data are being aggregated every second. You know that there is something to be gained from jumping the gun on quarterly releases, and you know somebody is doing that.

Anyway, trade shows are an anachronism. There's no reason to--what? Vegas? Holy crap. Forget everything I just said. Vegas, Baby!

Re:In general terms (1)

fermion (181285) | about 9 months ago | (#45882291)

This reminds of of the definition of a meeting minute I once heard. A meeting minute is not what happened in meeting, as what happens in a meeting is dynamic process, but rather what the people in the meeting intended to have happened or decided after the full consideration of the events of the meeting.

So the constant data steam is dynamic and is not representative of the reality that we, in the fullness of time, find useful. We want a sanitized version of reality, like the Dow Industrial average even though we can get by second stock prices, though delayed. Likewise a trade show is the best that a company can produce, with swag and furniture.

I liked this quote
And if they're too under-capitalized or unprepared for a hotel, they're lurking in the Convention Center parking lot. Certainly some people go to conventions underfunded and under prepared and certainly some think that is an advantage. But it is not. Especially in this day of constant information people make an effort to go to these places to see a SHOW, not just the tech. MS can afford to put on show. The challenge is can a smaller firm compete with less funds. If not at a trade show, then how does anyone think that they can compete in the open market?

Re:In general terms (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 9 months ago | (#45882503)

So it's like peacock feathers. At first glance they're a useless frill; but it's part of the standard mate selection process for peahens.

Re:In general terms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882861)

> This reminds of of the definition of a meeting minute I once heard.

Perhaps you are thinking of Yes, Prime Minister:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85fx0LrSMsE

Around 1:10 onwards, for the impatient.

Re:In general terms (1)

hubie (108345) | about 8 months ago | (#45887267)

I loved those shows. I liked Yes, Minister more than Yes, Prime Minister, but both are wonderful shows.

Re:In general terms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882407)

Most people seem to forget that CES is more about the companies reaching the sales channels than the news media. It's all about the actual meetings not the bloggers.

Re:In general terms (1)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | about 9 months ago | (#45882571)

Most people seem to forget that CES is more about the companies reaching the sales channels than the news media. It's all about the actual meetings not the bloggers.

What are you talking about? It's all about teh bloggers:
http://gizmodo.com/344447/giz-banned-for-life-and-loving-it-on-pranks-and-civil-disobedience-at-ces [gizmodo.com]

I think a good plan is for (1)

mandark1967 (630856) | about 9 months ago | (#45882059)

a small startup to hire Darl McBride to stand in front of their booth yelling, "I want my $699 you cheap motherfuckers!" It'd definitely get press notice, and I hear he needs to pad his resume with at least one successful gig lately...

Re:I think a good plan is for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882157)

Dude, it's basically been about a decade since anyone cared. Just give it up, FFS.

If CES is bad, where is good? (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 9 months ago | (#45882133)

CES is just the physical manifestation of the market in general, which is tough to crack wherever you go. If you think CES is noisy, try hanging out a shingle on the WWW, or hawking your stuff on ebay. The economy is a big casino with not that many big winners.

Re:If CES is bad, where is good? (3, Informative)

iMadeGhostzilla (1851560) | about 9 months ago | (#45884227)

I think that is the point of the article -- CES represents the overall technology market, and most startups don't make things for the entire technology market but for a niche. So instead of putting money into trying to crack the general market, it's much better to try to crack the niche market. Eg. if your startup makes best-ever noise cancellation headphones, it's better to show them at a DJ trade show or whatever you pick as a niche than at CES.

I presented my product at CES 2012 as I was invited to show it as a guest in the booth of another company's booth whose technology I used, and all that for free, so my only expenses were my personal plus hiring a demonstrator/dancer and a videographer. About 6-7 reporters approached me and seemed very excited about the software and wanted to write about it, but in the end nothing happened -- I imagine there were just too many things going on for them to actually follow up on it. (CNET ened up showing a picture of the product but without the product name, so there was no value from that either.) A few visitors bought the product after the show but they were just as likely to find it at a more specialized trade show that I went to later. All in all it was great fun but I'd never pay to exhibit at CES.

Paragraphs, please or are we going for TL;DR?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882195)

Slashdot. Where the editors can't even be bothered to break a long submission into paragraphs. Shit, how do I get a job where I get paid to not do anything???

CES is still around? (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 9 months ago | (#45882217)

Sweet, now I can fix all the mistakes I did in high school! Diane! Wait! I really *do* like you I'm just shy!!!

Re:CES is still around? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882909)

It's funny but I don't get it. Back to the Future reference?

PS - "www.dfpresource.org could not be found. Please check the name and try again."

Re:CES is still around? (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 9 months ago | (#45883255)

It's more of a wistful comment; if I could go back to high school I'd change a few things, mostly about girls, what else? And it looks like I have to update my profile...

NOBODY should be at any of the shows anymore (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 9 months ago | (#45882413)

At least from a marketing point of view they are poison. Unless you happen to be the best, cheapest and most innovative around. And nobody is all three.

These shows have two key drawbacks for you as a presenter. One, they are at a certain moment in time. And as Murphy's Law has it, either your Next Big Thing (tm) is not done yet or it was done 8 months ago and nobody gives a shit anymore. And second, you're not alone there, everyone you are competing with is there and your customer can compare trivially easily how you fare against your competitor.

Now why the heck would I want that?

You are paying an insane amount of money to put yourself into the shark pit. Instead, if you're a big company, you can easily launch your own private "we have done it" party and invite a ton of journalists where they may report about you, and only you, where you can bombard them with the awesome new features of your gadget without them being able to see that your competitor has all that and more. And if you're small, well, the last thing you need in the first place is to be put next to a monster gorilla who outshines you in every aspect. It's like trying to get noticed with your hot dog booth next to the worlds biggest food court.

Re:NOBODY should be at any of the shows anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45882491)

"Unless you happen to be the best, cheapest and most innovative around. And nobody is all three."

Valve Corporation is.
Maybe that's why they'll be on CES.

Re:NOBODY should be at any of the shows anymore (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 9 months ago | (#45882921)

And why will anyone else?

Counterpoint: Why startups *should* be at CES (4, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | about 9 months ago | (#45882457)

On paper, the get-a-booth strategy makes sense—aside from SXSW, CES hosts possibly the greatest concentration of tech journalists in a relatively small space.

That's exactly why a startup should be at CES.

So not only does your Nike FuelBand knockoff need to compete against a hundred other 'smart bracelets' on display

And thats exactly why if your business model relies on being a copycat product, you should probably rethink your startup. If CES is truly your wakeup call in this regard, well, at least you found out before shipping a product...

But in a certain way, you can't blame the startups: at some point, someone told them that CES is the best way to get their company noticed, even if it means blowing the equivalent of three employees' yearly salaries.

The important thing (for any conference) is to realize why you specifically are there, and what you specifically want to get out of it. If you're going just because it's your industry and you think you should be there, then your priorities are messed up and you're wasting your money.

think THAT'S LOUD...try the Vegas Shot Show (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 9 months ago | (#45882689)

yea...this: http://www.shotshow.org/ [shotshow.org]

It depends (1)

aiadot (3055455) | about 9 months ago | (#45883215)

Contrary to popular belief CES is not 100% about consumer electronics. The company I work for is currently at CES and have been for the past 2 years(as long as we existed). And guess what: we have no consumer products at all. Everything is B2B. And based on our experience it's been a good place(although not the best) to find big corporate clients. Unless you're a small company/start up trying to get in to a red ocean, you'll be fine.

I pity the wide-eye start-up entrepreneurs (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 9 months ago | (#45884439)

Being investing in many start-ups for 2 decades or so, and been couple of times played that wide-eye start-up entrepreneur role, I really pity the current crop of entrepreneurs.

There have been too many con-artists in the investment scene.

Yes, many of us are there to invest our real money for those with solid ideas - but there are those who went in, pretending to be interested in investing, but some how, for whatever reason they pulled out at the last moment, carry with them great ideas that they often transformed into a sell-out end product.

I know few of them, and I also met with some of their victims.

I count myself very lucky that when I *was* starting up there wasn't so many con-artists rubbing shoulders with us who were looking for funding.

All conferences, sort of a let down nowadays (1)

recharged95 (782975) | about 9 months ago | (#45884707)

CES, CEBIT, NAB, IBC, TED, DAVOS, SXSW, Emerge, E3, any ski resort movie festival....

All overrated nowadays, more press motivated, more advertising vaporware, more ideas with no meat, more opinions, more show and dance to potential investors. There's no learning, discovery or real discussion of where tech [or most other popular topics in economics, business, media and 'coolness'] is taking us. They are all cliques of social groups and expensive. In some ways I think running a kickstarter is a better option. But then again, there's no BS filter in that medium.

All have jumped the shark...

Other shows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45885817)

That's why a lot go to Pepcom.

Crystal Ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45886711)

When I attend trade shows it is to see the future. Not this year, but next year and beyond. I skipped the flashy booths in the middle of the floor and wandered the periphery, seeking out the guys in the suites or the parking lot. One or two might be meaningless, but when you see three or more little guys with the same thing it's time to take notice.

I remember the year I saw 3 card tables on the edges of COMDEX, all offering ISP services. I had to ask what that was, and their descriptions still didn't help, but I took their literature and realized that ISP's were something to explore.

I had friends that showed me their "free" T-shirts, all they had to do was watch a 30 minute presentation on something they weren't interested in. When I asked how much their entire trip cost and what the cost per hour of actual floor time was, they realized that the T-shirt was anything but free.

Drinking at 9am (1)

FryingLizard (512858) | about 8 months ago | (#45893665)

...you say that like that's a bad thing? This is Vegas!
Just make sure you have some potential customers with you and it's your card behind the bar (or in the stripper's hand, etc)

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